Sunday, April 4, 2010

Smashwords Ebooks - iPad Ebook Publishing Made Easy

2,000+ ebooks from Smashwords authors and publishers appeared on the iPad yesterday. Click here to learn how to publish Apple iPad ebooks in the iBookstore.

Very few people in the publishing industry understand the profound implications of this. It's not just about the iPad - it's about how any author, anywhere in the world, can go from a Microsoft Word document to worldwide ebook store distribution in a matter of seconds or days.

Welcome to the age of fully democratized, instant publishing where the bookstore is moving to a screen near you. Authors can now publish and distribute with unprecedented freedom.

In the old days, like two or three years ago, the best route for any author to reach readers was to find a literary agent who could sell your book to a large print publisher. After the big sale, you'd wait another 12-18 months before your book appeared in bookstores. For many authors, that's when depression set in, because sales rarely matched expectations, and if books don't sell quickly they're yanked from shelves and cast out, condemned to out-of-print oblivion like some unwelcome refuse on its way to the remainder bin.

Imagine spending years or a lifetime to write your book, only to have it disappear for all posterity?

Things are starting to change now. Based on my analysis of the January ebook sales reports from the IDPF, I expect ebooks will account for at least 10 percent of the U.S. book market this year. Unit market share will actually be higher, because ebooks sell for less than print books.

In this new age of ebook publishing, an author's book can be published and distributed in near-real time. A book never need go out of print because it's always stocked on a digital shelf, ready for instant digital printing and delivery to any reader. An indie self-published author can now share virtual shelf space with any other author.

Some folks might find find this idea of democratized book publishing terrifying. I consider it liberating, because now readers - not publisher gatekeepers - determine which books are worth reading. I blogged about the community filter concept last year, here: Inside the Smashwords Community Filter.

Book shelves are moving from the physical realm to the digital realm. Most of the major ebook retailers have opened up their shelves to indie authors. These visionary retailers and mobile phone app developers include such players as Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Amazon, Stanza, Aldiko and now the Apple iPad iBookstore. As an author, you want to be on these digital shelves. Smashwords helps you distribute to these retailers.

Yesterday, after Smashwords author Susan Klopfer (pictured above and below) tweeted a picture of herself holding her book on the iPad, I invited other Smashwords authors to send me their pictures too.

Below is a collection of some of the first Smashwords books on the iPad. In sequential left-to-right order, pictured below are Susan Klopfer and her book, Who Killed Emmett Till?; Patrick Dodson's Psychotic Inertia; Laudizen King's The White Mountain Chronicles; J. Alexander Greenwood's Pilate's Cross; David Derrico and his novel, Right Ascension; and last but not least, an injured Jacob Ray with a big thumbs up for Smashwords and the iPad, showing off his novel, The Undead of the Low Country.

Jacob, who recently broke his hand while playing flag football to research a book on the topic of flag football (that's what you call, "throwing yourself into your book."), tells me publishing on Smashwords was so easy he could do it with one hand.

Do you want to publish your book on the iPad, the Barnes & Noble nook, the Sony Reader and multiple other mobile apps and online bookstores? Learn how by visiting our page, How to Publish Ebooks on the iPad or How to Publish on Smashwords. It's fast, easy and free.

I'll probably blog more about the Apple deal tomorrow, because that's when we issue our official press release.


Shayne Parkinson said...

What a lovely photo gallery!

The iPad won't be available in New Zealand for some time (no release date yet), so I won't be able to see one in real life for a while. But it's exciting to think that my books are already available on this shiny new platform.

Inkling said...

Let's hope Apple quickly follows in Amazon's footsteps and creates iBooks apps for Macs, PCs and the iPhone/touch with synching of bookmarks and where the reader stopped reading. That'd multiply a thousand fold who can buy and read our ebooks.

Many thanks to Smashwords for working out this arrangement with Apple.

Wilson James said...

I wish I had my own iPad so that I could see my 5 Smashwords-produced eBooks come to life on that new screen. However, I'm excited and thrilled to know my books are now available at the iBookstore.

The idea that my multi-format books are available for anyone to read on virtually any type of e-reader is amazing, and I certainly have to give full credit and thanks to Mark and Smashwords for making it possible.

I believe that the hype about the iPad will draw more attention than ever to eBooks in general, and that will be good for all of us authors.


Andrew Mayne said...

I published four. Thanks for making that possible!

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't have an iPad or any other type of eReader, but I am thankful I've been able to publish all eight of the books I've written so far on Smashwords. Glad these others have been able to see their dreams on-screen that way. I know it's got to be a real blast.
Thanks, Mark.

Leslie Allen said...

I published on Smashwords less than a week ago - didn't know boo about e-books - and enjoyed the entire process. Thank you!

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Great job, Mark! Your distribution system has made it so easy to self-publish ebooks.

Any chance that B&N, Kobo, and Sony will switch to a royalty structure like Apple's? Love the 60% so much more than the 42%.

And what's the deal with Amazon? We know that they are changing their royalties at the end June so that if your ebook is priced according to their guidelines they will pay 70% instead of 35% (working directly with Amazon). That's great. But I could be happy with Smashwords distribution to Amazon if I could get 60%. Any chance of that happening?

Gee, we don't ask much of you, do we, Mark? :)

Thanks again. Please keep up the great work!


Dan McGirt said...

Great job making this deal with Apple happen and continuing to expand opportunities for independent authors and publishers. I know you & your team put in many frantic hours getting ready for the iPad launch and are right back at it today working to move Smashwords to the next level of awesome. Kudos to you, Bill, and whole team.

Alex Greenwood said...

Cheers to Mark and his team--revolutionaries all.

Mainely Marla said...

I have two books available for IPad. How exciting to know that my books can be read on all the devices. Thank you Mark and Smashwords!

Anonymous said...

This is terrific news for e-publishers! Kudos to Smashwords for your leadership in ensuring that emerging writers would quickly have a strong iBook presence on iPads.

Unknown said...

Mark - I'm with you 1000% on your comments, and very grateful to Smashwords for giving us a superb publishing platform. But I have a little cautionary tale.

Electronic publishing has encouraged me to experiment with book formatting. For a cleaner, easier read I leave a single-line space between paragraphs and in dialog exchanges, with each new speaker. (In a printed book that would waste paper; with e-publishing no such problem.)

My novel, 'The Lebanese Troubles' looks fine in HTML and Javascript on Smashwords. But according to those who have seen it (I can't because I live in the UK) the iPad version looks pretty terrible, with line-spacing of 3-4 lines between each paragraph.

Almost certainly this is a problem with the CSS file that's been prepared from my Word submission to Smashwords. The way to overcome it would be to use <br/> between paragraphs, instead of <p> in HTML. But we can't submit in HTML, can't preview ... and at present I can't even tell whether the feedback I've had from the US is correct.

I'm left wondering whether I may be putting my potential readers off - perhaps permanently - by leaving a poorly rendered edition in place on the iPad. In future, I'll always make sure I can preview before publication.

Any advice anyone can give about how to deal with this would be welcome. And Mark, I'm still behind you and Smashwords all the way. You did after all warn us that there would be glitches.

Maria said...



Unknown said...

The changes brought about by Smashwords may not be as revolutionary as the introduction of the printing press but the comparison isn't totally outlandish - the multitude of writers have free access to the entire world of readers!
Well done Mark and team!

Dovetail Public Relations said...

Hey everyone, thanks so much for the generous words! It's because of you that we're here and that we were able to pull this off.

We're shipping another ~1,385 tonight and still prepping an even larger shipment, now approaching 7,000, destined for Sony. Still have a few more technical hurdles to overcome but we're getting closer.

@Alan - strange anomalies like that are most likely caused by something inside your Word document. For example, we've discovered several books that have page breaks after each paragraph. Your suggestion is interesting, and is certainly something we could consider for our scrubbers, though we'd much rather have folks supply us a cleaner file, formatted to the Style Guide. Unfortunately, Word is such a beast that folks *think* they're supplying a clean file, exact to the Style Guide, but underneath it's a mess. Often the only solution is to truly strip out all all formatting by cutting and pasting to Notepad, pasting back into a clean Word file, then reapplying the necessary formatting. This latter "nuke" option always works.

GaryTaylor said...

Is there any way to tour the Apple ibookstore without using an ipad? I have visited the site on my PC but I don't see any of the titles from the Smashwords Blog photo gallery listed in the library available with that format.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen said...

Question: how do you handle book samples for shorter works?

Nicola said...

These is terrific, Mark et al, thanks!

I'm with Gary. Can anyone tell those of us without an iPad (sigh) how we can determine if our ebooks are available in the iBookstore? Appreciate it.

Nicola Furlong

promodesign said...

How to Publish Ebooks on the iPad

Link doesn't work

Unknown said...

I want to put up a children's picture book at Smashwords, for pre to early readers. The word count is very low

Each page is prepared as an image - the text and the illustration are both included in the image file,
one file per page - sounds simple because that way its pre formatted, no formating to do. Just import an image file to Smashwords, one per page

I think what i have to do for Smashwords, is post my image file into word first, and from there send it too Smashwords, correct ?
Thats my questiion, about that process

Anonymous said...

I came across this article while Googling how to publish from Smashwords to iPad. Great site! I'll tool around a bit anc check out other articles.