Updated December 3, 2019
Ever since our founding in 2008, the data privacy and security of our users has been core to our mission. This commitment flows to the books you read as well. We believe all readers should have the ability to enjoy legal fiction in the privacy of their own imagination.
We believe you deserve to know what data we collect from you, and you deserve to know how we use and protect this data. We also believe you deserve control over your data.
We use your data to provide our service to you and to continually improve our service for your benefit.
When a user registers to create an account at Smashwords, they agree to abide by the Smashwords Terms of Service, and they agree to receive email communications so we can provide them that service.
Smashwords users span two intersecting communities:
1. Ebook consumers (readers) – We operate the Smashwords.com ebook store that allows readers to browse, discover, sample and purchase a catalog of over 500,000 ebooks
2. Ebook publishers (authors and publishers) – We operate the leading ebook publishing platform that enables authors and publishers to produce, publish, distribute and sell ebooks.
We believe privacy policies and procedures should be clear, transparent, and in plain English.
Personal Data - Personal Data is data about a living individual that can be used to identify, directly or indirectly, the identity of the user. Personal data could be a name, an identification number, location data, a photograph, or any online identifier attached to the individual’s physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.
Usage Data - Usage Data is data we collect automatically based on your use of Smashwords.
Data Subject - Data Subject is any living individual who is the subject of Personal Data.
User - The User is the individual using Smashwords. The User corresponds to the Data Subject, who is the subject of Personal Data.
It’s not necessary to become a registered user of the Smashwords website to enjoy many of our services. This means it’s not necessary to provide Smashwords any personally identifiable information if you do not choose to do so.
For example, as an unregistered user, you can browse the same catalog of books as registered users. You can access and download over 70,000 books that are priced at free without registering for Smashwords.
However, if you desire to purchase or publish ebooks, or you want to download books that are only free with a Smashwords coupon, or if you want to take advantage of our full range of the enhanced service features provided at no cost to ebook consumers and ebook producers, you are required to sign up for a free account.
Smashwords utilizes a number of computer security best practices and procedures to protect access to the personally identifiable data collected and stored at Smashwords. However, the most important access control starts with you. When you register for an account, Smashwords will prompt you to provide a unique and robust password.
Your email address and password will serve as your login credentials. To prevent unauthorized access to your account, it’s important you select an email/password combination that you have never used at any other website. Otherwise, if you’re using the same email/password combination at Smashwords that you use elsewhere, and if that other website or service is later hacked and your login credentials stolen, it could allow these criminals to randomly try logging into other popular websites such as Smashwords to gain access to your account. As a user of the Smashwords service, please help us help you by selecting a robust and unique password. Bottom line, choose a password at Smashwords that you have never used anywhere else.
By design, Smashwords limits the amount of personally identifiable information that could be stolen should a criminal gain access to your account. We don’t store credit card numbers in your account. If you’re an author, we don’t display your Tax Identification Number within your account. We also strive to avoid collecting information we don’t need. For example, we don’t collect or know your phone number, nor do we need to know it.
We require minimal personal information to create an account at Smashwords so that we may provide you the full range of services described in the Smashwords Terms of Service.
For ebook consumers, the benefits of registration include the ability to:
• Purchase, access and download multi-format ebooks;
• Access purchased ebooks forever, even if the author or publisher later “takes their book out of print” and stops selling it
• Access free updates to the book in the event the author/publisher updates the book at Smashwords
• Leave reviews for books you’ve read;
• “Favorite” your favorite authors;
• Subscribe to our optional Smashwords Alerts service which notifies readers when their your favorite authors release a new book
• Access exclusive sales promotions not available to non-registered users
For ebook producers, in addition to all the benefits received by consumers above, registration also gives you the ability to:
• Publish ebooks
• Distribute ebooks
• Centrally manage your book’s metadata, pricing, updates and distribution
• Access aggregated sales reporting, including our attractive Daily Sales report which provides same-day and next-day sales analytics
• Receive payments for the books you’ve sold through the Smashwords distribution network of major retailers and library partners
• There are many other exciting tools and features enabled by registration. For a good summary, check out the How to Publish and Distribute with Smashwords page.
For all visitors to the Smashwords website, we automatically collect aggregated and anonymized data such as browser type, page views, clickstream, and usage. We use Google Analytics for this data tracking service. Because this information is aggregated and anonymized, it’s not visible to the general public. It’s only visible to key Smashwords employees and is used to help us optimize the performance and usability of the site.
In addition to the anonymized analytics collected above, we may also work with similar services to monitor purchase transactions and detect fraud.
We also track IP addresses, account logins, profile views; and books viewed, sampled and purchased.
For book merchandising and promotion purposes, we leverage anonymous aggregated sales data to make automated book recommendations and display content that matches reader interests. We may also use your browsing or purchase history to improve your book discovery experience by recommending books similar to those you’ve purchased or enjoyed in the past.
This section summarizes the data that you directly provide to Smashwords after registration, along with data you will generate through the course of your voluntary use of our service.
Smashwords provides a number of cool features that allow you to customize and enhance your experience with our service. If you choose, you can provide us additional information that can appear on your public Smashwords Profile page, such as your name (can be real or a pseudonym); your bio; your social media addresses; your country; any book reviews you write on the Smashwords site; a profile picture; a Smashwords Interview; embedded YouTube videos; and any books and series you’ve written. You control this data and can remove it at any time.
Ebook consumers – If you choose to purchase an ebook (account registration and login required), we will require a valid credit card or PayPal account number; your postal mailing address to which the card or payment method is attached; and your country location. This information enables us to receive payment, prevent fraud, issue refunds and satisfy our legal obligations.
Ebook producers – If you use Smashwords to publish, promote and distribute ebooks, as mentioned above, a free account registration is required. To receive payment for book sales, and to comply with United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements, we will require you to provide us a valid Tax Identification Number, a postal or digital payment address so we can pay you, and a physical mailing address that we may use for both for payments and for tax compliance purposes. We will track your sales history so we can report it to you, pay you, and so that we may further market and promote your books.
We record several details related to your usage of the site such as reviews you’ve posted, books you’ve published, books you’ve sold, author pages you’ve browsed, books you’ve sampled or purchased, royalties or commissions you’ve earned, and books and authors you have favorited or followed.
We do not disclose your personally identifiable information or usage to third parties except when processing purchases, payments, or for fraud and abuse detection. However, any information you voluntarily upload or post to the site, such as books, book reviews or personal profile information, becomes publicly available to other users of the site.
We do not expose your registration email on the website.
Smashwords allows registered authors to publish their works under pseudonyms also known as “pen names.” The author’s true identity is not shared with customers unless the author shares it themselves through other means.
Authors and publishers who wish to receive payments for their works on Smashwords are required to provide additional registration information, such as their real name, a postal mailing address, and tax ID information to comply with United States Internal Revenue Service tax codes. Smashwords will only use this contact information to fulfill our obligations to you and to any tax or legal authorities who should require it, and we will never sell or rent out this information to third parties.
Smashwords is not in the business of selling personal information to third parties. Instead, we’re in the business of helping readers find and purchase the books they’ll enjoy reading, and helping authors and publishers serve readers with their books.
We don't sell your personal data to third parties. This also means we never sell or rent out the email contact information for Smashwords users. If we provide you the option to share your email address with a particular author or publisher, such option will be clearly presented, opt-in only, and your choice.
If a third party claims to know you and requests your contact information, we will not share your contact information. In these cases, we will forward the inquiry to you privately and leave it to you to reply (we’re pleased to report that over the years we’ve helped reunite parents with their children and helped old friends reconnect).
However, if there's a business reason to share your email expeditiously with a trusted business partner, and we're confident that by doing so we're providing you greater service, then we will do so. One common example of this is when a merchandising manager at a large retailer requests an introduction to one of our hot authors so they can discuss a merchandising feature. Yay!
Smashwords, like many businesses, will collaborate with other companies to perform certain business-related functions. Examples of such functions include data services that host our website or data files; certified public accountants which help us manage tax reporting and compliance, or the customer service software company that hosts our customer service platform. When we employ another company to perform a function of this nature, we only provide them with the information that they need to perform their specific function.
Smashwords gives you control over your data. For example, did you find an error on your author profile page? Click to Account, then click to Edit Account Profile and fix it instantly. Do you want to change the price of your book? Do it instantly from your Dashboard.
Do you regret that negative book review you left the other day? Click to your profile page, scroll down the summary of your reviews, and click Delete.
Is that author you favorited four years ago no longer a favorite, and you don't want them listed on your profile page as a favorite? Unfavorite them.
Your personal library of purchased ebooks at Smashwords is visible to only you and Smashwords. Do you want Smashwords to forget every title you’ve ever purchased? Contact our support team and we’ll make that happen (but fair warning – you’ll no longer have access to the books and we cannot reverse this if you later change your mind).
Smashwords may disclose personal data if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such an action is necessary to (i) comply with a legal obligation, (ii) protect and defend the rights or property of Smashwords and our users, (iii) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of users of our service or others (such as if we receive a threat to harm oneself or others), (iv) protect against legal liability, (v) or we’re compelled to do so to protect our users and partners against fraud.
We may share limited data with our retailers and media partners, such a recent sales rankings or preorder accumulation totals. To promote our authors and publishers, we will share bestseller lists of our top performing titles and authors with media outlets (such as our bestseller lists published by Publishers Weekly magazine) and retailers (such as the merchandising work we do to recommend our most promising titles to the merchandising managers at retailers and library platforms). We believe this is a valuable service to all our users - authors, publishers and readers alike. In no instance will we publicly divulge a book’s or author’s or publisher’s specific sales data (such as, "Publisher XYZ Publishing earned $480,000 last year!") without your written permission.
In the event of a change in control of Smashwords ownership (i.e. Smashwords is acquired by another company), or preliminary discussions to that end, your personal data may be included so the acquirer may continue to serve you.
Earlier we mentioned we don’t sell or rent out the email addresses of our users to third parties.
In this section, we summarize how we use email at Smashwords to communicate with our users.
In order for us to provide you the myriad services described in the Smashwords Terms of Service, we must be able to communicate with you. At Smashwords, this communication takes place almost exclusively over email.
When you sign up for a Smashwords account, you are giving us permission to contact you so that we may fulfill our service duties to you.
Most of these communications are automated or semi-automated based on event triggers (such as you purchase an ebook, we send you a purchase receipt and access information). In all cases, such communications will be germane to the reason you joined Smashwords (to read books or produce books) in the first place.
If you publish ebooks at Smashwords, examples of event triggers for automated email notifications include when you publish a book; when Smashwords approves your book for Premium Catalog distribution; when you sell a book at the Smashwords store; and when your book is reviewed by a customer in the Smashwords store. You will also receive our exclusive “Smashwords Author/Publisher Alerts” to notify you of important service developments, best practices recommendations, and policy changes.
If you purchase ebooks at Smashwords, you’ll receive an automated purchase confirmation containing links to your purchased ebooks. Later, we may send you an automated email reminder to review it.
As mentioned above, if we provide you the option to share your email address with a particular author or publisher, such option will be clearly presented, opt-in only, and your choice.
For ebook readers and producers alike, we will add similar event triggers or email alerts in the future.
You control your communication settings. All subscription-based emails contain one-click opt-outs, and users can also manage their communications settings by clicking to Account: Communications Settings.
However, some emails will not have opt-outs because they’re one-off emails sent manually by a Smashwords employee helping you solve an issue, or it’s a semi-automated email to notify you of a critical issue with your book that’s blocking your distribution.
Smashwords does not allow third parties to send emails to our registered users. Email addresses are never revealed on the website by Smashwords (and we suggest that all users think carefully before posting their email addresses online).
Smashwords does not run third party advertisements on the Smashwords site and therefore does not work with ad services or ad tracking firms that might seek to track your habits as you browse the web.
Smashwords is an ebook retailer and distributor. We market our service to adults. We do not market Smashwords to children.
Like any ordinary bookstore, Smashwords hosts children's books but also adult books that may contain themes and situations not appropriate for children. We take multiple steps in partnership with our authors and publishers to prevent inappropriate content from being exposed to children.
When authors and publishers publish at Smashwords, they state whether their book is appropriate for those under the age of 18 years. Per the Smashwords Terms of Service - which all publishers are required to reassert their agreement to prior to publishing a new book at Smashwords – we require that they provide accurate categorization information. Violators face possible account closure and lose the ability to sell books through our service.
During site registration when a user signs up for our service, we ask the user to inform us if they’re under or over 18 years of age. If they tell us they’re under the age of 18, we will block them from viewing adult content.
All first-time visitors to the website will automatically have adult content blocked until they register as an adult or explicitly click the "Adult Content" button to view it. This provides yet another layer of protection for children to reduce the chances they might stumble across inappropriate content.
In addition to relying on age suitability classifications provided by the author or publisher, we also provide “report this book” links on every book page at Smashwords so concerned Smashwords users can notify Smashwords of books they believe are improperly classified.
Children, should they wish to join, are allowed to become members but our preference is that they do it under the supervision of a parent or guardian. The above online information we collect from children is the same we collect from all members. Their email contact information will only be used to support the user and respond directly to their requests.
If Smashwords learns that a child has posted personally identifiable or private information that would allow others to contact or identify the child, Smashwords will remove the information.
Smashwords applies multiple best practices and techniques to protect the personal data of our users from misuse, or unauthorized access, disclosure, or destruction. However, no Internet business or email transmission can ever be fully secure or error-free, and therefore we cannot guarantee its absolute security.
Security tip: Email communications are inherently insecure. We ask that Smashwords publishers never transmit sensitive personal information over email, such as tax identification numbers. Instead, we provide secure encrypted means to collect this important information over secure web forms on our site that use industry-standard encryption. In the case of the tax identification numbers, you can enter them under Account: Payment Settings.
You have the option to close your account at any time. By closing your account, all publicly visible information about the user on Smashwords will disappear.
Users who wish to close their Smashwords account can do so by clicking with the “?” support icon at the top of any Smashwords page or the "Support" link at the bottom of any Smashwords page.
Please think carefully before requesting account closure. If you have a specific concern that might prompt you to want to close your account, please share it with our support team. Often, our team can suggest even better options that will meet your privacy needs but still allow you to continue benefiting from the Smashwords service.
At Smashwords, we welcome the intent and purpose of GDPR. We hope it inspires a renaissance in terms of how all Internet companies use, respect and protect the personal private data of their users.
If you have questions, comments or suggestions to share about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, or your dealings with Smashwords or our publishers, please contact our support team by clicking the “?” icon at the top of any Smashwords page or the "Support" link at the bottom of any Smashwords web page. We look forward to hearing from you!
Please don't contact us by postal mail. We'd much rather hear from you online so we can help you faster and more effectively.
For postal deliveries, our mailing address is listed below. Please do not use the postal mail to send us paper books, query letters, customer support inquiries, takedown notices, books on disks or to send general questions. For all such inquiries, the online form above is best.
All written snail mail correspondence should include a working reply-to email address that matches your Smashwords account, otherwise, we cannot respond.
15951 Los Gatos Blvd., Ste 16
Los Gatos, CA 95032
December 3, 2019 - Immediately before the launch of Smashwords Presales, we added a mention that the only circumstance in which Smashwords will share a customer's email address with an author or publisher is if the customer explicity requests such sharing. This is to recognize the permission-based option of Smashwords Presales in which customers purchasing presale books have the option to subscribe to an author's private mailing list, operated by the author.
May 23, 2018 – Reorganized to address GDPR privacy compliance. Added additional information to improve transparency.
March 3, 2014 - Added clarification regarding postal communications to encourage communications through our online channels.
October 26, 2012 - Added mention of Google Analytics, fraud detection systems
December 5, 2009 - Minor updates