One of the things I think Smashwords has gotten right is their start with Word focus of conversions. It makes SO much more sense than building ebooks from crazily complex design platforms. With the launch of Smashwords Direct, the company has bowed to pressure, but Mark offers a rather nice defence of the “Meatgrinder” tool that Smashword’s has used to date (and will continue to use:
Meatgrinder has been vilified and demonized over the years, despite its proven ability to produce high-quality ebooks. Although Meatgrinder’s not perfect, some of the criticism has been unfair. Many authors have needlessly avoided Smashwords out of misplaced fear.
One author volunteered that they’d heard such horror stories of Meatgrinder from their publisher that they kept their books off of Smashwords for that reason. That’s really unfortunate, both for the author and Smashwords, because the vast majority of Smashwords authors have received professional-quality results with Meatgrinder. Our Meatgrinder-generated Premium Catalog books are pleasing millions of readers each month with rarely a complaint. Our retailers have told us in the past that our books have dramatically lower failure rates (measured in the fraction of a percent) compared to others. This tells me many authors who have avoided Smashwords out of misplaced fear have unnecessarily missed out on up to five years of sales and platform-building opportunity. I suppose if there’s a silver lining to the launch of Smashwords Direct, it’s that maybe we can help writers do the right thing (achieve full Smashwords distribution) for the wrong reason (availability of Smashwords Direct).