For fun, we added a new word counting ticker to the Smashwords home page. To our pleasant surprise, indie authors now publish over 34 million words at Smashwords.
So I wondered, how do you measure 34 million words? In a silly experiment, I typed 12 point courier text in Word and found it measured 11 words per six inches, or 22 words per foot. Divide 34 million words by 22 and you get 1,545,454 feet of words which equals 292 miles or 471 kilometers.
In the same way authors use word counts as a rough measure of progress, I think word count provides an interesting yardstick of our progress at Smashwords since our launch in May, 2008. We're only getting started. How long until we reach one billion words?
It's important to remember these aren't just words. Smashwords authors have sculpted them to form sentences forming paragraphs forming chapters forming stories forming multi-dimensional self-contained units of words we call books. And they're not just books. These books emerged from the sweat, heartache, joy, passion and life experiences of writers from every corner of the globe.
How many of these words might never have seen the light of day were it not for the wonder of online publishing? How many lifetimes do these words represent? And how many important stories are now preserved for all eternity in digital bits, forever accessible and discoverable?
Words are precious.