Smashwords Goes From Strength To Strength


Smashwords stepped up their game this week with two major distribution announcements. On Monday Mark Coker kicked off with news that Smashwords are now officially distributing to the Berlin-based ebook retailer ‘txtr.

On Tuesday Coker announced a partnership with OverDrive to get indie titles into digital libraries.

EBUK regulars won’t be surprised by the news, as we’ve reported on both several times over the past months.

At this stage it appears the OverDrive deal is only for library distribution and will not involve OverDrive’s retail partners like Waterstone’s, so there’s still good reason to check out the British aggregator Ebook Partnership, which does get you into Waterstone’s, and also a host of other outlets currently not on Smashwords’ radar. Not least Google Play.

How long before Smashwords adds Google Play to its growing list? Coker’s not saying, but no question Smashwords are, at long last, embracing the opportunities presented by the blossoming global ebook markets.

This will be an interesting year for Smashwords. But Mark Coker, if you’re reading this, what would really impress us would be deals with Google Play, Copia, Gardners and Ingram, and targetting the European markets (esp. Germany and the Tolino stores), Latin America (esp. BajalLibros) and the Far East (esp. Indonesia’s Scoop and Thailand’s Ookbee).

The deal with ‘txtr (no, no capital, no vowels, and the apostrophe is compulsory) is an exciting development that will bring rewards to those indies willing to step outside the Only Amazon Matters mindset and actually try PROMOTING the ‘txtr stores.

Did we say stores, plural? Believe it! ‘Txtr have dedicated ebook stores (local languages and currencies) in, wait for it, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and USA. Plus an International store selling in euros to the world.

The list is worth looking at closely. Amazon forces Belgian readers to buy from Amazon France, expects Austrians to buy from Amazon Germany, only lets Swiss readers uy from France or Germany in a foreign currency, gives the Irish the choice to buy from Amazon UK or Amazon US – both in a foreign currency – and expects New Zealanders to buy from Amazon Australia or Amazon US – both in a foreign currency.

‘Txtr understands that the Swiss use Swiss francs, not euros, the Irish spend euros not pounds, New Zealanders like to pay in NZ dollars not AU dollars and South Africans flash the cash in rands, not US dollars.

As for readers in Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Netherlands, etc… Amazon not only expects them to pay in a foreign currency – US dollars – but charges them a $2-$4 surcharge on top of the list price and on top of the currency exchange fees they’ll be hit with. Amazon even imposes the surcharge on your free ebooks. And no, you won’t see a cent of it.

Google Play does serve these countries too – and yes, Google Play too manages a dedicated store and local currencies – but few indies are with Google Play (you can go direct or via Ebook Partnership) so for most authors the Smashwords-‘txtr will be the first serious opportunity to build a non-Apple readership in places like the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland. Don’t waste it!

And for those wondering if anyone there understands enough English to make it worthwhile, there are 15 million English-speakers in Netherlands, 12 million in Poland and 4 million in Denmark.


Smashwords authors were told they see their titles appearing in the ‘txtr stores at the end of this week, but in fact some titles are already showing. Many have serious pricing errors like $2.99 titles showing at $6.99. If that’s happening with you, email Mark Coker and give them time. Teething problems are to be expected. We’ve had confirmation from indies in ‘txtr stores via other routes that ‘txtr pricing is usually very reliable.

Spend some time now getting familiar with the ‘txtr stores so when your titles do go live you can hit the ground running and let readers know.

The best place to start is ‘txtr UK, as this gets good Google results and is in English. So are the US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand sites of course, but the search engines in our experience tend not to pick them up so easily.

Just search for ‘txtr UK, or go to and then tootle down to the right-hand corner where you’ll find a menu for all the ‘txtr stores and can get the country-specific link and price in local currency ready for your promo.

Don’t expect miracles. The ‘txtr US and Canada stores are obviously insignificant, but ’txtr are picking up steam elsewhere. ‘Txtr are a Berlin-based operator so have a good presence in Germany (45 million English-speakers since you ask), Austria and central Europe. ‘Txtr supply epub files which can be read using the free ‘txtr app on any tablet, not just their own ereader – the ‘txtr Beagle.

In addition to their own stores ‘txtr also act as a feeder for other stores like Britain’s prestigious Foyles, and also the Sony Australia, Austria, UK and Germany Reader Stores, though given the said Sony stores are closing shortly that’s academic.

‘Txtr won’t bring you sales in big numbers any time soon, if ever, but for those of you who value reaching readers globally and building a long-term career, over chasing quick-fix sales from one or two big retailers, the Smashwords partnership with ‘txtr is wonderful opportunity.

If you have an author website then take time out to set up a showcase for your international portfolio of ebooks. We’ll be posting in detail on suggestions how to do this shortly, but here suffice to say if you are with Apple, Kobo, Google Play and ‘txtr you will be able to proudly display your titles with links in local currencies to local retailers in around one hundred different countries.

Then instead of spending time promoting one or two stores over and over you can promo your author website and let readers make their own choice about which retailer they will buy from. And of course you can also sell direct to readers, which is another option we’ll be looking at more closely soon.

If you’re Going Global In 2014 then do keep in mind it’s a two-part process.

Being there is of course half the battle. If your titles aren’t available no-one can buy them.

But the other half is letting readers know you’re there.

Tweet a ‘txtr link a day to build a truly global readership.


Ebook Bargains UK.

Far more than just an ebook promo newsletter.

Far more than just the UK.


8 responses to “Smashwords Goes From Strength To Strength

  1. I am so excited about this, I am in the process of revamping my book page so I can add any new sites to it.

  2. I do hope Smashwords takes on Google Play. It looks like hell on wheels to upload anything.

    • Google Play is a bugger to deal with, but the keyword is patience. I found if I attacked each section a day at a time, it was more manageable. 🙂

    • Google Play can now be accessed through the Italian aggergator Narcissus at no upfront cost. Google Play recently added another dozen coutries to their list – now 57, so offically the world’s biggest ebook store by reach.

  3. So if you had to choose right now, would it be Ebook Partnership or Smashwords? Or is it not a clear and easy choice?

    • Ebook Partnership is for professional indies willing to invest money upfront for future rewards. You get 100% of net proceeds but you pay in advance per title ($40 per year). Smashwords is free at the point of use but will cost you dearly if you sell in sigificant numbers. Typically they take 10% oif list price, but for the OverDrive library deal you only get 45%, so not such agood deal there.

      Most important is the company you keep. Smashwordshas an entirely deserved reputation as go-to place for border-line legal porn. That’s borderline legal in the US. Much of the stuff there would get yoiu arrested in other countries.

      Coker has publicly stated bestiality fiction (doe-eyed blondes having sex with horses and dogs) is acceptabel content at Smashwords. there are currently some 600 titles in this vein on Smashwords all with graphic titles and graphic descriptions. Other so-called erotica involving incest and such is widely available. Coker would apear to have no intention of blocking this, despite concers of retailers.

      Smshwords is a very useful store, and in many ways one of the leading lights of the indie movement. It’s also one of its darkest, bringing indie authors into disrepute by association.

  4. “instead of spending time promoting one or two stores over and over you can promo your author website and let readers make their own choice about which retailer they will buy from” –

    more effective (i hope) and easier to run 🙂

    i include not only links to traditional online ebook etailers, but to Scribd, Oyster, and OverDrive

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