Smashwords has been difficult to access, on and off, in the last 24 hours. Its Read an E-Book Week promotion, in which 3000 authors are offering special promotions and free e-books, has apparently resulted in a run on the site, periodically swamping the servers. Maybe not great news for Smashwords... but great news for e-books.
Hopefully Mark Coker will have a handle on things soon. In the meantime, I'd suggest being patient with Smashwords, as there is plenty of worthwhile content in there... worth waiting for.
Website bottlenecks aren't completely unheard-of in e-book circles, but it has been a rare occurrence, mainly, because demand was rarely that strong. The fact that the number of people looking for e-books is so significant is a clear indicator of the growth of the e-book market. Hopefully that will result in added attention, and resources, from some of the big players looking at the e-book biz.
It might also hint at the value of selling e-books from author and independent sites (like mine, for instance--plug, plug!) that are perhaps less likely to be mobbed by so many people at once... or simply selling at multiple sale points (Smashwords, Amazon, Apple, Fictionwise, etc), to make sure customers can get to your work.
This year's Read an E-Book Week promises to outdo all previous year's events by an order of magnitude, as new authors, new publishers, new reading consumers, and new hardware are all converging into a perfect storm of e-book demand. It's a good day to be an e-book!