Thursday, October 15, 2015

Smashwords Announces Distribution to Gardners Books: Expanded distribution to over 400 retail stores, 2,000 public libraries and 400 academic libraries

Smashwords today announced a comprehensive distribution agreement with Gardners, the UK's largest book wholesaler. 

The agreement significantly expands the global footprint of the Smashwords ebook distribution network, enabling Smashwords authors and publishers to reach hundreds of online retailers, public libraries and academic libraries.

On October 22 Smashwords will begin delivering 230,000 ebooks sourced from the over 100,000 indie authors and small independent presses to 400 ebook stores powered by Gardners operating in 32 countries and serving customers in 138 countries; 2,000 public libraries in the U.K.; and 400 academic libraries in the UK, Europe and Middle East.  The agreement excludes Smashwords erotica titles.

Gardners clients and their customers will gain access to many of the world's bestselling indie authors, including numerous New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. The Smashwords catalog features a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction titles, and is especially strong in popular genre fiction including romance, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy and science fiction.

Agreement Spans Retail and Libraries

The comprehensive partnership covers both retail and library distribution.

1.  RETAIL

Gardners Extended Retail Distribution - Gardners powers the online ebook store operations of over 400 small and medium-sized booksellers globally as part of its white label ecommerce and digital content fulfillment & distribution services.

Notable retailers with ebook stores powered by Gardners include www.hive.co.uk, www.books.telegraph.co.uk , www.indieebook.co.uk in the UK, www.bokus.com in Sweden ,  www.takealot.com in South Africa and www.saxo.com in Denmark.  Hive.co.uk, which is owned and operated by Gardners, is interesting because it features and supports hundreds of independent brick and mortar retailers.  Every sale benefits the consumer's selected shop. Hive features a large range of titles from the Gardners catalog of over five million items which include ebooks, print books, DVDs, audiobooks, stationary supplies and more.

Smashwords authors and publishers will earn 60% of the after-VAT list price at Gardners-powered ebook stores, the same terms as they earn with Smashwords at iBooks and other major retailers.

2. LIBRARIES

Gardners library ebook distribution will allow Smashwords authors and publishers to reach both public libraries and academic libraries.

Askews & Holts Library Services - Askews & Holts (A&H) is a sister company to Gardners, and operates the UK's largest library ebook service.  A&H currently powers the ebook checkout systems of 81 public library authorities in the U.K. comprised of 2,000+ public libraries.  This represents over half of the UK library authorities, serving a local population of 17 million people.

The A&H library service is really interesting.  Unlike conventional library ebook services that require the library to purchase the book prior to allowing the patron to discover and sample it, A&H offers libraries a truly patron-driven service.   All Smashwords titles will be available and discoverable to library patrons.  Patrons can search the catalog and when they check out a book it triggers a purchase by the library, assuming it wasn’t previously purchased or checked out at the time.  This patron-driven approach to library ebooks solves a significant budgetary challenge faced by all libraries - namely that libraries under other systems routinely waste precious budget to purchase books that are never read.  Libraries can set monthly budgets to control costs.  Once budgets are met, library patrons are given the option to purchase books that aren't yet in the library's catalog, or that might already be checked out.  Also in a significant first, A&H will include all Smashwords books priced at FREE so library patrons can access the books at no cost.  By contrast, Smashwords partner OverDrive, the world’s largest library ebook platform, doesn't support free books and prices all sub-$1.99 and free Smashwords ebooks at $1.99.  This minimum pricing requirement has disappointed some Smashwords authors and publishers that want to show their support for libraries by offering their books at lower-than-retail prices including FREE.  With the Smashwords Pricing Manager tool in the Smashwords Dashboard, authors and publishers can set custom prices for libraries.  Similar to our library distribution deals with OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Smashwords authors and publishers will earn 45% of the list price for all library sales.  Also similar to our other library deals, once an A&H library purchases a Smashwords title, they own it can check it out to one patron at a time.

VLeBooks - Smashwords titles will also be accessible on the VLeBooks service, the ebook platform for Browns Books for Students, another sister company of Gardners that serves academic libraries.

VLeBooks is used by 400 schools & colleges in Europe, the Middle East & Asia and 78 universities in the UK, with over 200,000 students registered on the platform. More than 16,000 academic librarians and teachers utilize the platform for their digital and physical book orders.  The terms of sale for VLeBooks are the same as for Askews & Holts.

How to Distribute Ebooks to Gardners

Smashwords shipments to Gardners will begin on October 22, seven days from today.  If you want your books distributed to these new Gardners channels, your Premium Catalog-approved books (excluding erotica) will automatically flow to them starting in one week.

If you wish to opt out of either the Gardners retail or library channels (NOT recommended), you'll find the option in your Dashboard's Channel Manager.  Two channels are listed separately, one is labeled Gardners Extended Retail Distribution and the other, which comprises both library channels is labeled Gardners Library Distribution.  With distribution beginning in one week, Smashwords estimates that most Smashwords books will be listed at these services within six to eight weeks, although titles may appear earlier or later than anticipated.

Thank you Gardners for supporting Smashwords authors and publishers!

43 comments:

Derek Haines said...

Nice news after just getting out of KDP Select and returning my ebooks to Smashwords. More good news to come in the future, hopefully.

Mark Coker said...

Thanks, Derek. We're always working to bring our authors and publishers more good news. :) This deal is interesting on multiple levels (I love their patron-driven library ebook model!), but I think it's important we all keep sales expectations low. It can take years for some of these new channels to develop. I think back to the early days of Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Scribd when the sales were a small fraction of what they are today. And then as we saw with Flipkart, some channels never develop.

Paul R. Wonning said...

Will our books automatically get submitted or do we have to submit them to this new market?

Murat Ukray said...

Hello Mark, Congrattulations for this act. But do you think about get submitted the books to the Gooogle Play Store, because this is very huge android ie. market and many devices use it..!

thanks..

murat

Emigh Cannaday said...

I'm in this for the long haul, so I'll remain cautiously optimistic. Thanks for all you've done to liberate the written word.

Emigh Cannaday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.M. Bysh said...

OOOOOO Awesome! This I think will be interesting experience. Thank you Mark for all the hard work.

Ray Kane said...

Great, well done Mark
Do we get a fee for each library loan?
Ray Kane

Rebecca Bielawski said...

great news! Hope you are working on getting epub3 fixed format to the distributers that support it. I republished with the old epub2s but it's just not cutting it as far as children's fixed layout is concerned. It's embarrassing to have to publish through you guys with an inferior format when every other aspect is so positive and forward-thinking.

brickoneil.com said...

Hopefully my books will start selling now with the additional markets.

Mark Coker said...

Rebecca, we've supported EPUB3 for over a year with Smashwords Direct (direct uploads of your custom epub files), so I'm not sure what limitation you're referring to. If you have a specific issue, it's better to work with our support team on it because this isn't a good forum for resolving support issues. Or you're welcome to email me directly at mc@... if you think it's something I need to be aware of. I do know that at least one retailer (Kobo) has been rejecting the epub 3s from some of our authors who designed their own and didn't follow the right design specifications.

Mark Coker said...

Ray, the way library sales work, the library purchases your book once and then they own it and can lend it out to only one patron at a time. If the book is checked out and another patron requests it, typically the library will either purchase another copy or they'll make the second patron wait until the first person checks the book back in.

Louis Shalako said...

It will be interesting to see what happens. The market is very fluid, and it has its ups and downs.

alancporter said...

This is excellent news. My paperback editions are distributed (in the UK) by Gardners, so having ebooks with them too will help bring everything into line and will help with marketting to bookshops (the royalty rate is good too - better than for physical books!)

Ray Kane - in answer to your query about being paid for each library loan, if you are in the UK you should make sure you are registered with the Public Lending Rights scheme (https://www.plr.uk.com/). That way you will be paid for each loan - NOT at the Smashwords royalty rate, but still a little each time. (Non-UK authors should have an equivalent system in their country too.)

Phyllis Burton said...

Dear Mark, All this sounds really good. Thank you. Hopefully I may even start selling some copies now!

abc said...

Mark, Speaking from the low perspective of free Polish language novel publisher on Smashwords (for three years now) I want to thank you for bringing this site to life and keeping it up. Contrary to what I could read in some other threads of this blog I really like the site minimalistic and classy design (and I earn my leaving through design not books). But most of all I appreciate you integrity in holding to virtues you started with.

As a free book author I never followed closely distribution channels you offered us resting solely on a satisfaction coming from downloads of my book which I could check from time to time on my dashboard page. Sure, any authors write to earn but ALL write to be read.

Today, looking at my dashboard I realized that something had to happen because instead of usual one download per day or two I had 0 downloads for two months. So I started to read your blog.

I still don't know what happened but last Kindle Select thread made me aware that some bloody battle is going on in the background. Of course I don't blame authors who subscribed to KDP select due to financial reasons. In the same time I would never go there just to boost my downloads as I highly appreciate that I'm the part of an open market. I can go to Amazon or anyone but never on exclusive bases. Wish you luck and I hope you want stay with free authors only.

Ray Sullivan said...

Mark, great news and thanks for doing such a fantastic job. This is one area I suspect Amazon can't dominate. Thanks also to alancporter for the nudge ref lending rights.

P M Christou said...

This is good news and another postive for opting for wider distribution.I wish Smashwords every success. @Paul R Wonning. We are automatically opted in.

Anthony said...

From the plr site q&a section:

Why are you advising not to register ebooks and digital audio downloads?

Due to copyright law, the extension of the PLR scheme only permits ebooks which are downloaded on library premises to fixed terminals and then taken away on loan to be included within PLR legislation. However, libraries have advised us that they do not have facilities to enable ebooks to be downloaded onto portable devices and taken away from the premises, and that all ebook and digital audio lending is carried out ‘remotely’ to home PCs and mobile devices.

PLR is unable to make payments for remote ebook and digital audio lending as it continues to be covered under copyright law. Due to these current restrictions, we would not recommend that ebooks and digital audio downloads are registered for PLR. We will advise if copyright legislation is changed to include remote loans, or if libraries allow ebook loans to be taken away from the premises.

So to register or not to register?

Anna Erishkigal said...

Yay!

[*Kermit flail*]

[*jumps up and down*]

[*happy dance*]

Thank god! No more stumbling through clunky BookBaby to get my titles into the Gardiners catalog.

Tracy Falbe said...

I love this reader-driven model of library acquistions for ebooks. I just switched my library prices on my already free titles to free for libraries. I only wish I knew how to get links to those library listing pages so I could direct market to library users in the UK.

Alan Porter said...

re PLR: Antony - I don't know! I was under the impression that my publisher had registered all my digital titles for PLR simply to future-proof them. But what you quote from the PLR website seems to be saying something else. I guess it's an area that is fast evolving and has not been fully tested yet legally. I would say, if you can, do, but if not, keep a watching brief on when the law changes. Sorry I can't be more precise, but this seems a very imprecise science!

Jo Robinson said...

Would this guarantee that our books would be displayed for sale at takealot South Africa?

Mark Coker said...

Jo, the books will appear in their ebook store - http://www.takealot.com/books/ebooks - and my expectation is that yes, they will list all our books.

Jo Robinson said...

Thank you for replying Mark. As a South African Indie writer who has no South African platform to sell my eBooks, this is quite a big deal. Will be leaving Kindle Unlimited and publishing with Smashwords too in that case. Thank you for this!

Mark Coker said...

Great, Jo, we look forward to working with you! If you don't mind, could you share with authors here some insight into the South African ebook market? Which ebook retailers are the most popular there? I know our authors have a presence there via our distribution to Kobo and of course the Smashwords Store, though the other majors don't seem to be doing much there yet.

Jo Robinson said...

Thank you! There isn't much happening in South Africa as far as ebooks are concerned, and definitely crickets when it comes to Indie published books. Takealot would probably be the most popular. They sell quite a variety of things online and probably not many ebooks. They used to be called Kalahari, and a while ago they started selling an ebook reader in beta form - not sure what happened to it because it wasn't very good and ebooks had to somehow be loaded manually. Other than Takealot you can buy ebooks from Exclusive books, but they're quite pricey and only traditionally published works. ebooks are quite a new thing here, and I only know a few people who have ebook readers - only Kindle that I've seen so far - you can buy those locally easily enough. Also so far I've only seen others here buying ebooks from Amazon.com. Most of them quite keen for Amazon to open shop here so they can pay in local currency - you pay an extra $2 for every Amazon ebook from here. I have looked around for a way to publish locally, but other than trying for traditional publishing, so far I've only found vanity presses, and they publish on Amazon too. As far as the other languages here go - there are loads and loads of Afrikaans readers and a huge market for books in the various African languages, but so far it's only Amazon or paper traditionally published books for us. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be able to offer mine in my own country now - opens up a whole new world of possibility.

Mark Coker said...

Thanks for the insight, Jo. How popular is the iPhone in South Africa? I'm looking forward to the day iBooks launches there.

henrytobias said...

For me this is good news. I write British English and my book 'Just for Fun' an eclectic anthology of short stories and essays has British humour. I was born in England and raised in South Africa which is also reflected in the contents of my book. I write about Apartheid, and other aspects of life in South Africa.

Jo Robinson said...

The iPhone is very popular Mark - in fact cellphones in general are had by everyone. I use the oldish Samsung Galaxy S3, but it's really nice to use to read with when the power goes out - as it does - I've got a basic Kindle with no backlight so that's pretty useless unless there's sunlight or power. I'm looking forward to any new eBookseller to launch here!! There are millions of us around here, and we all love a good read, and absolutely not one decent eBook seller, that's why Takealot sounds like such a big deal here - I would say that they're pretty much the biggest as far as eBooks goes locally, and with a bit of local advertising could really lead to nice local sales. With Takealot part of the Smashwords deal there's no way South African writers should stay exclusive with Amazon. Up to now I've actually been an advocate of Amazon exclusivity because of the perks you get there with visibility and so on - wrote a book about it and all, but this news totally is a game changer for me - will have to update the book :) It will be great not to be the poor relation in the Indie world any more.

Jo Robinson said...

Sounds like an interesting read Henry Tobias. It's great to make sure that the history isn't lost and forgotten.

Bruce McClellin said...

This is a nice reminder of the global presence of Smashwords authors. By expanding the availability of Smashwords books in the world marketplace, local markets will open up or grow and provide more Amazon authors with an alternative to Kindle Select.

henrytobias said...

Jo Robinson, I've been told that my book is very interesting. You can read the sample download on Smashwords. You can see GENUINE reviews of my book on Smashwords, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and Goodreads. The reviews are from friends and acquaintances, but still genuine - you cannot get reviews without giveaways. Several of my stories are about Apartheid, servants in South Africa and other reminiscences.

Bruce McClellin said...

Mark, can Smashwords authors sell preorders through Hive, which Gardners owns, plus the other retailers in the Hive network?

Mark Coker said...

Bruce, we expect they'll be able to do regular preorders, but not "assetless" preorders. We'll have a better sense of their full capabilities with preorders in a few weeks.

Ittyerah Tholath said...

Thank u very much for your efforts to extend the reach of my book to many European countries.books are written for people to read and share the thoughts. I am indeed happy about the new arrangement. Thanks.

Linda Banche said...

Mark, I don't want to lose these vendors like we lost Flipkart because they couldn't honor a book take down request fast enough to suit Amazon and the people who want to switch between Smashwords and KDP Select.

If there is a possibility of a substantial time lag in a vendor's implementation of a takedown request, I suggest you note that in the Opt-in Section. Then people can opt out. And those of us who stay in Smashwords don't lose another vendor.

Bruce McClellin said...

Thanks, Mark, for the status report on preorders. Since you plan to further assess this topic, I would like to add another. Will the Gardners retailers price match the free books on Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Nobel?

Linda, the definition of a "substantial time lag" for a vendor to take down a Smashwords book may vary by retailer. The standard for a retailer in the most developed countries may be faster than for a developing country that is creating infrastructure and determining best practices for e-business. A more viable long-term solution may be technology to verify that all network sites are clear before the author moves the book to Amazon Select.

Ruth Ann Nordin said...

Glad to see more stores being added!

henrytobias said...

Amazon are opening their own bricks and mortar book store in Seattle, Washington, using the statistics from online sales to know what books to stock. Is this a trend? I've heard tell that print books, you know the ones with the nice smell, are coming back into fashion.

James Sterngram said...

Hi, Mark. Great news. I'd rather be listed with Gardners through Smashwords and not BookBaby, and I now see I'm already opted in with Smashwords. I just searched the 'notable retailers' listed above and found my title is offered by all of them (except Hive) through BookBaby. I can tell by the slightly different book description I have over there.

So my questions to you or anyone else are: What will happen to your auto opt-ins who are currently listed with Gardners by other aggregators, assuming they don't opt out with those others before Gardners and their partners try to populate the Smashwords titles? Will we have double listings? Is it soon enough to wait and remove BookBaby distribution after this happens?

Lastly, do you know if Hive will take all Smashwords titles or if they'll curate as they seem to be doing with BookBaby?

Thanks.
James Sterngram
Author, Help for Hysterical Humans Who Hope to Be Happy in Heaven or Here

Mark Coker said...

James, typically when authors are transitioning from another distributor to Smashwords, I suggest they leave the other distributor's versions up until the Smashwords-delivered version appears. This way, you avoid creating an unnecessary period of unavailability.

I tend to always shy on the conservative side when it comes to the timing of these new distribution relationships reaching full implementation. There's always a possibility of delays, especially with our massive volume, and we also do a lot of extra testing and validation once with the partner once shipments commence before we allow them to live. The goal is mitigate potential errors.

Our expectation is that all delivered books will be available on Hive, though it's my understanding that all Gardners-powered retailers have some discretion over which books they carry.

James Sterngram said...

Thanks, Mark. Do you have a rough idea on when the premium catalog installation at Gardners will be complete? I see through your Channel Manager that my title shipped Jan 15th to Gardners Extended Retail, and not yet to Gardners library. The Smashwords-supplied title is not up yet on any of the retail sites--Just the BookBaby-supplied one.