Podioracket welcomes Drew Beatty, the author of Lost Gods, as he shares his observations about e-books and Smashwords. Welcome Drew!
The Smashwords Approach to E-books
While I am not sounding the death knell for books, I think it is important to realize the phenomenal growth of the e-book, and to consider the opportunity that comes with this growth. A recent article on bNet had this to say:
“E-books sales jumped up by 136.2 percent for the month over June ‘08 (to $14.0 million), reflecting an increase of 149.3 percent for the year.”
Okay, what we have here is runaway growth, though not quite as impressive as the nearly 400 percent annual growth rate we saw in Q-1. Nevertheless, e-books continue to grow at rates that traditional books cannot, which is an indicator of which way the wind is blowing.”
I think the biggest takeaway from this is that traditional books cannot maintain the same growth trajectory as e-books. As more and more devices enter the mainstream, more and more people are going to be looking for content to consume on these devices. Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s eReader, and the multitude of portable devices that support e-books are helping to fuel this phenomenal growth, but there is a caveat. Most of these devices use a proprietary format. What that means is that if you want to release your book in an e-format, you have to have several different versions of it. One for the Kindle, one for the Sony reader etc… Formatting your manuscript into multiple versions can be difficult, time consuming, and technologically frustrating.
Fortunately Smashwords.com has come along to make the process idiot-proof, or at least as idiot-proof as possible.
As long as you have properly formatted your manuscript, Smashword’s “Meat Grinder” will parse it and reproduce it in a variety of popular formats. These include common ones such as HTML and Plain Text, but, and this is where it gets really interesting, it will also produce versions for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Palm Reader, Stanza and more. Writers and publishers can, in just a few simple steps, make their work readable by most of the major e-readers, set the price they want to charge, and have a new distribution system in place. The biggest hurdle is formatting your work correctly. They have easy to follow instructions, but depending on the complexity of your manuscript, it might take some time to get everything in order so that the Meat Grinder can do its magic. It took me an evening of playing around before I got everything working well, but there is nothing overly complicated in the process.
For readers, Smashwords has thousands of books in a variety of genres. Most authors choose to freely share at least part of their work, so that you can get a feel for the story and see if it captures your interest. Most are also reasonably priced, ranging from pay-what-you-want to a few dollars. There are some very talented authors who are part of Smashwords, and eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that Podiobooks.com now links many of its titles to Smashwords.
I think that the true winner in this will be the readers. Multiple formats allow for a great deal of flexibility, and the cost of the e-book is traditionally much less than even a paperback. My novel, Lost Gods, costs $15.00 plus shipping through Lulu.com, but if you get the e-book from Smashwords you can set your own price. While there are still many people who love the feel of hefting a paperback, if all you are interested in is the content, Smashwords is a great place to check out! Oh, and did I mention the files they produce are DRM free? They are!
Drew Beatty will be appearing LIVE on Podioracket Blog Talk Radio on September 24th at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern.