Late Friday, Mark Coker of Smashwords sent the following via email:
Smashwords has signed an agreement with Barnes & Noble to distribute Smashwords ebook titles, all of which are self-published or from small independent presses.
As you might imagine, we’re thrilled. Until today, it was difficult if not impossible for independent authors and publishers to gain such mainstream digital distibution. Now with Smashwords, virtually any author, anywhere in the world, can receive broad distribution for their ebook. Additional distribution relationships are forthcoming.
The Smashwords service is completely free. We pay the author 85% of the net proceeds and we take 15%.
We originally hoped to do a formal press release on this news rather than release it late on a Friday afternoon, but we needed to give our 1,200+ authors and publishers advance notice so they can prepare their titles for distribution. It’s tough to ask 1,200 people to keep such an exciting secret a secret, thus the preempted press release and my email to you. We currently publish about 2,600 titles, double the number from just four months ago. The books should be listed at B&N properties within the next 30 days or so.
We posted a link here to inform our authors about next steps: http://www.smashwords.com/distribution
This is a very significant turn, though one that I suspect will be followed by more Smashwords partnerships. The simple fact is that self-publishers are as much a part of the mainstream publishing market as any small house. The barriers have fallen and many authors will test the market without a deal with a publisher upfront. Smashwords makes the market entry very easy and preserves 85 percent of after-retail revenue for the author.
It’s another inventory that, at least now, BN.com and associated readers (Plastic Logic and iRex) can offer directly to readers. It seems certain that Smashwords titles will be available soon in other major online bookstores.