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We made hundreds of changes large and small. We also made technical changes behind the scenes that will lay the groundwork for us to introduce many new tools and features for authors and readers alike in 2014.
The new website certainly has a much cleaner and modern style, no longer resembling a relic from the 90s. Coker says that they’ve “doubled the number of books listed on the Smashwords home page”, added new book category filters and live publishing stats, and reorganised navigation. The new design is responsive, with a “dramatically enhanced” mobile experience. Users will also notice that the book pages, user dashboard, user account and library pages have been redesigned.
The next challenge for Smashwords is to move their blog off Blogger and into a more modern platform and bring its design in line with the rest of the site. I’m also keen to see whether Smashwords is going to develop a book upload workflow that doesn’t rely exclusively on Word. I, like a number of writers, use Scrivener, and I would love to see wider support for it in tools and services for self-publishers, as well as the facility to upload epub files.
Scribed distribution deal
Smashwords has also just signed a distribution deal with Scribd, the content upload and sharing site. In another blog post, Coker says that Smashwords will “supply books to Scribd’s new ebook subscription service, where for $8.99 per month subscribers can enjoy unlimited reading” and Scribd will make Smashwords ebooks available for sale “under our standard retailer terms”.
Coker explained how the subscription and sales models will work:
For Scribd’s retail store, the terms are identical to our standard retail agreements. Smashwords authors and publishers will set the price, there will be no discounting, and authors will earn 60% of the list price on all sales. The first 10% of the book, from the cover image forward, will be the free preview sample, similar to most retailers.
For Scribd’s subscription ebook service, authors will earn 60% of the list price on all qualifying reads, and here they’ve added a cool twist. With subscription services, the author or publisher earns credit for a full read when the reader reaches a certain trigger point, measured by the percentage of the book that is read. The first 10% of the book is a free sample, similar to a retailer. Excluding the sample, once the reader reads an additional 20% of the book, a full sale is triggered and the Smashwords author earns 60% of the list price, up to a maximum of about $12.50 per read. In practice, what this means for most fiction writers is that after the reader reads more than the first 30% of your book, it triggers a full sale. For some non-fiction writers, where your book’s content is more likely to be read non-sequentially, it means if the reader starts their reading deeper in the book at Chapter 10, a sale could be triggered after reading only 20% of the book. […]
Unlike any other subscription service or retailer, Scribd has sweetened the pot by added a secondary sales trigger for the author by providing credit for partial reads. If the subscriber reads 5% more than the first free 10% but less than the additional 20% necessary to generate a full sale, this triggers a credit for partial read. For every ten partial reads, which Scribd calls a “browse,” the author earns credit for a full sale. Since most people read fiction from page one forward, this means if 10 people read just over the first 15% of your book but less than 30%, it’ll generate a full sale. For non-fiction, where readers are more likely to read non-sequentially, they can read 5% of the middle of the book and trigger a browse credit.
Coker says that he expects Smashwords Premium Catalogue books to start appearing on Scribd in January. Scribd are also offering a one-year free subscription to Smashwords authors who opt their books in to Scribd before 1 January.
It’s great to see Smashwords developing innovative new distribution channels for indie authors. Not only does it make Smashwords a much more compelling offering, it also helps to knit together previously silo’d reading communities in a way that appears to benefit everyone.
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