The new Smashwords website, which has been under development for some months now, exited a 3 week long closed beta test earlier this week. The website got a complete facelift which improved the overall site design, added new pages to the back end, and refactored the book listing pages in order to make it faster and easier for readers to discover, sample and purchase books.
The site now features a responsive design that will make it much more usable on small screens like smartphones and tablets. By responsive I mean than the site will automatically adjust the layout so it fits on smaller screens All of the content is rearranged, but it is still there.
Readers will enjoy the changes to the book listings as well as the behind the scenes improvements which makes the library section both faster and prettier while providing better support for power-users who have purchased hundreds of ebooks. Authors and publishers are also getting some love; the dashboard and account pages have been reorganized with a more functional design.
All in all, Smashwords is ready for 2014 to be an even better year than 2013. And with the new deal with Scribd, it promises to be a lucrative year indeed.
Scribd and Smashwords have just announced a deal to add Smashwords' catalog to Scribd's ebook subscription service. A grand total of over 225,000 indie ebook titles from over 70 thousand authors and publishers will soon be available as part of Scribd's Netflix-style ebook subscription service, which launched globally in early October 2013.
Scribd is adding the Smashwords catalog to a collection of over 100,000 titles from major and minor publishers like HarperCollins, E-Reads, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks, and Workman.
Readers can pay $9 a month and access as many ebooks as they like. The ebooks can be read on Scribd's apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad, and in web browsers. Scribd had been in the document sharing business for several years before launching the ebook subscription service, and as a result their apps are more polished than that of their immediate competition, Oyster and Entitle.
Scribd will also be selling Smashwords titles in their ebookstore. In addition, Scribd is supporting indie authors with profile pages, curated book merchandising, and Scribd will also help authors get to know their readership via a reading metrics dashboard. Indie authors will also get a free 1 year subscription to Scribd so they can better interact with their readers.
Those last 2 items are potentially as valuable to authors as the money that this deal may or may not generate; knowing what readers are actually reading (as opposed to buying/downloading) can help authors and publishers refine their work to provide what readers want. This is part of what the ebook analytics startup Hiptype tried to provide as a 3rd-party service, but were unfortunately unable to secure deals with Apple, Amazon, or B&N.
All in all this should give indie authors a new way to connect with readers that should be more fruitful than ebookstores like iBooks, which has shown a clear bias in favor of major publishers.