Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Smashwords Optimized for Stanza and the iPhone

If you're one of the 10 million or so iPhone and iPod Touch users out there, you know it's sometimes a pain to visit web sites on the Safari browser that aren't optimized for the iPhone's screen size and slow download rates.

We feel your pain, which is why we're excited to announce today that we've optimized the Smashwords web site for iPhone users.

Simply visit the site and we'll automatically recognize you're an iPhone or iPod Touch user, and then we'll serve you pages optimized for your device.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can now easily browse our small but growing catalog of independently published ebook authors. All of our books are available DRM-free and multi-format, including the increasingly popular epub format used by Stanza, the leading ereader app for the iPhone.

And speaking of Stanza, Stanza fans are in for a real treat.

We also today introduced full integration with the Stanza ebook reader (see image below). Stanza users can now easily access the complete Smashwords catalog on their iPhone or iPod Touch, download book samples and free books, access their personal Smashwords library, and even download full books they've purchased online at

Visit the website by entering the URL "" in the Safari browser. You can add all Smashwords books available in ePub format to Stanza's online catalog by tapping the "Stanza" link at the top of any page, and following the instructions there.

To purchase Smashwords books, tap "Join" to sign up for a free account, or tap "Login" if you already have an account. Find the book you wish to purchase, or just tap the link at the end of the sample copy right inside Stanza to launch Safari, and click "Add to Cart". You can pay with a PayPal account or credit card, all right on your iPhone.

To load the books you've purchased into Stanza, tap the "Library" button at the top of any page on the Smashwords website. A list of books you've purchased will appear. Tap the book's title, and tap the "Download to Stanza" link on the page that appears. Stanza will launch, download the book, and you may begin reading instantly.

Alternatively, you can also access your entire personal Smashwords library directly within Stanza, by adding it as an Online Catalog. From the Library or Stanza pages on, tap "Access your Library in Stanza." Stanza will launch and add your library as a new menu item under "Online Catalog." Be sure to name your catalog, otherwise Stanza will give it a default name of "". Any books you purchase or add to your Library -- whether on your PC or Mac, or while browsing on your iPhone -- will appear there automatically.

If you're an indie author, there's never been a better time to publish your books on Smashwords. And if you're a fan of indie ebooks, there's never been a better time to start enjoying our small but growing catalog of books.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fun with Word Clouds: If Words Could Speak

Writers wrestle words - it's one of the never ending joys and anguishes of authorship. When we write a book, we turn words into sentences forming paragraphs forming pages that magically create stories, ideas and images that have the power to move the spirit.

But what if you were to take your precisely placed words and jumble them up? What story might your words they tell if given the chance?

Now comes Wordle, a cool little web service that takes your words and converts them into eye candy for wordies. Wordle generates randomly organized word clouds of unlimited shapes, sizes, colors, fonts and layouts. To create your own word cloud, simply visit the site and paste a bunch of words into the space provided and click go. To create the image above left, I copied the text from the About Smashwords page into Wordle. Once you create your masterpiece, you have the option of publishing it to Wordle's public gallery to share with the world.

Wordle might have interesting application for authors who want to find new ways to engage the senses of readers. Wordle, simply by accentuating words with the highest frequency in a sample, tells its own story about the words. By looking at the word cloud at left (an excerpt of a random page of my own novel Boob Tube), can you guess anything about the story?

You can even feed Wordle a web page, a blog, an RSS feed or your bookmarks. Below is what the Smashwords blog looks like on Wordle. Give Wordle a try for yourself. You might never see words the same way.