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).
The wonderful people over at The Book Depository have rolled out a free ebook program. Kieron Smith, Managing Director of The Book Depository, said [in their press release]:
We wanted to give our customers a really wonderful present this Christmas. We’re continually working to increase the number of books that we have available on our website – 2.4 million at present, which is an unparalled number. Ebooks are much talked about at the moment but difficult for people to try, this gives people a chance to experiment, read something new and try ebooks all at no risk and free of charge.
We’ve not launched ebooks for sale as yet, but will do soon, this promotion is a great way for us to start talking to our customers about what they want from the format.
Quite wonderfully in my opinion, the program uses PDF. After all most people who don’t know anything about ebooks, know about PDF and feel confident in downloading them. I think the ebook program is nicely executed. It is smooth, fits into the rest of the site where you would expect it and offers something very interesting to readers.
I’m hoping this also drives print sales for The Book Depository’s Dodo Press. I’ve downloaded these two (1,2) for free, what will you get?
In retrospect, this revised talk by Michael Tamblyn from Shortcovers at TOC Frankfurt was one of the most positive and enjoyable! Thankfully following some pressure on Twitter and such like, he put it up on Blip.tv! You should watch it!
This is a very clever post on building a channel (read niche if you will): Here
Mike Cane on Apple’s long term strategy for ebooks! You’ll like it: Here
It bears repeating because at times I fear people have missed the reality that If you have a Blogger or a WordPress.com blog, if you Tweet, Tumbl or Flikr YOU are a publisher.
That carries enormous implications as Guy Gonzales points out in a Tweeted response to me:
What you do about it is up to you, and it doesn’t guarantee success but it IS a fact.
That is why the tagline of this blog is:
It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.
It’s a line from a rather excellent article in Fast Company by Tom Peters. The article is called The Brand Called You and it’s about branding. It is deeply relevant to this discussion. You should read it.