Smashwords Distribution Network

Learn where and how Smashwords distributes ebooks

(rev. 9/29/20)


This page describes the Smashwords distribution network. You’ll learn where we distribute, the requirements for distribution, and we provide a quickstart checklist to help you achieve rapid distribution.

Welcome to the Smashwords Distribution Network

With a single upload to Smashwords, your book can be listed for sale at multiple major ebook retailers and library platforms.

Notable retailers in the Smashwords distribution network include Apple Books (operates stores in 51 countries), Barnes & Noble , the Smashwords Store, Scribd, and Kobo.  Our industry-leading library distribution reaches OverDrive (world's largest library ebook platform serving 20,000+ libraries), Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Tolino, Gardners (Askews & Holts and Browns Books for Students), Bibliotheca CloudLibrary (3,000 public libraries), Odilo (2,100 public libraries in North America, South America and Europe) and Califa's Enki (powers ebook checkout systems for over 100 California libraries). 

Extended Distribution:  Some of our partners mentioned above operate additional digital storefronts, or may power and supply other retailers and sales outlets.  Here's a summary of the extended distribution you’ll receive simply by distributing to the retailers and library platforms noted above:  

Kobo powers the ebook stores of multiple ebook retailers around the world.  By distributing to Kobo via Smashwords, your books will also reach Walmart, WH Smith in the UK, FNAC in France and Portugal, Livraria Cultura in Brazil, Angus & Robertson and Bookworld and Booktopia in Australia, Indigo in Canada, Collins in Australia, Feltrinelli in Italy, bol.com in the Netherlands, Paper Plus in New Zealand, Play in Great Britain, Rakuten in Japan, Buy.com (now Rakuten) in the US, PriceMinister in France, Crossword and WHSmith in India, Eason & Son, Ltd in Ireland, Mondadori in Italy, The Paper Plus Group in New Zealand, National Book Store in the Philippines, Pick 'N Pay in South Africa, La Central in Spain, Dogan in Turkey, participating Booksellers Association Stores in the UK, and participating American Booksellers Association stores in the US, and Orbile in Mexico (Orbile is a partnership between two large Mexican book retailers, Porrúa and Gandhi).

Baker & Taylor operates operates Axis360, a major supplier of ebook checkout systems to public libraries.

Gardners powers hundreds of small white label ebook stores; operates Hive.co.uk which powers ecommerce operations for hundreds of physical stores; operates Askews & Holts, a large supplier of ebooks to public libraries in the UK and other countries; and operates VLeBooks which powers ebook checkout systems for academic libraries.

The former Tolino network, a powerhouse in Germany, powered various retailers that account for approximately 50% of the German ebook market.  The retailers served by Smashwords' previous distribution agreement with Tolino included Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel / ebook.de, Buecher.de, Mayersche, Osiander, Libri, Standaard Boekhandel and IBS.  In 2019, Smashwords title distribution to these former Tolino network outlets is now performed by longstanding Smashwords partner, Gardners.

Status of Amazon

We understand that many Smashwords authors would prefer the convenience of consolidating their distribution to Amazon via Smashwords, rather than uploading direct to Amazon.  If your book has earned over $2,000 at Smashwords retailers and you would prefer to consolidate your distribution via Smashwords to Amazon as opposed to uploading direct with them, please click the "support" link at the bottom of this page and let us know you're in the $2,000 club and would like to be considered for our distribution to Amazon.

 

Checklist: How to Achieve Premium Catalog Distribution

To receive distribution to our growing network of retailers and library platforms, your book must be accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Acceptance is fast, free and automatic if your book meets the common sense listing requirements of major retailers and library platforms.  The listing requirements are fully described in The Smashwords Style Guide, which can be downloaded for free.

Most listing requirements are mechanical in nature. For example, retailers and library platforms expect professional formatting, proper navigation, complete metadata and an acceptable cover image.

Here’s a quickstart checklist

  1. You’ll upload your book to Smashwords either as a Microsoft Word .doc file (the most popular method) or as a professionally designed .epub file.
  2. The Smashwords Style Guide, available for free download at Smashwords and all major ebook retailers, provides step-by-step instructions on how to professionally design and format your ebook so you meet retailer requirements. The Smashwords Style Guide also lists ebook cover design requirements. This essential reference has helped hundreds of thousands of authors and publishers create reader-pleasing ebooks at no cost using Microsoft Word.
  3. If you’d prefer to hire a professional to perform your ebook formatting, check out Mark’s List of recommended low-cost ebook formatters. The list also includes recommendations for low-cost cover designers. All the professionals on Mark’s List are independent freelancers. They work for you, not Smashwords. Smashwords does not receive a commission if you hire them. This helps them keep their costs to you lower.
  4. After you upload your book and the conversion completes, you will receive a confirmation email.  Check the email for “AutoVetter” messages.  AutoVetter is our automated formatting scanner which helps you identify potential formatting problems.  You can also view AutoVetter messages in your Dashboard by clicking the hyperlink under the "Premium Status" column.  If you see AutoVetter messages, correct them immediately to achieve faster distribution.  That page contains additional helpful troubleshooting information to help you identify and repair issues.
  5. Attach an ISBN to your book utilizing your Dashboard's ISBN Manager tool (ISBNs are required for most retailers and library platforms). We offer free ISBNs.
  6. If your book is part of a series, attach it to a series using the Smashwords Series Manager tool found in your Dashboard.  Series Manager increases the discoverability of series titles by making it easier for readers to find your books at our retail partners!
  7. Inspect your .epub file after you upload it.       You’ll download your .epub file from your book page. Epub is the file type we distribute to retailers and library platforms.  You can inspect your file with a free tool such as Adobe Digital Editions.  It’s important to inspect your file because invisible formatting errors in your Word .doc source file can cause unexpected problems in your finished .epub.       Also check the .epub file’s table of contents (technically called the NCX).  If it's not properly formed, Step 20 in the Smashwords Style Guide will help you repair it.  Or, check out this short video that walks you step by step through the simple process of adding navigation to your Smashwords ebook - http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/11/how-to-add-navigation-to-smashwords.html. By inspecting and repairing your file before we review it, you’ll help us approve your book faster.
  8. Usually within 24 hours of upload, the Smashwords vetting team in California will manually open your .epub file and confirm it meets retailer distribution requirements, as described in the Smashwords Style Guide. If we approve it on the first review, you’ll receive an automated email notifying you of your approval. If we identify issues that require repair, we’ll alert you via email and via on-screen messaging in your Dashboard.
  9. To upload a corrected manuscript, click to the Dashboard then click “Upload new version”. To update the cover, description, categorization or other metadata, click “Settings”
  10. If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact the Smashwords Support team by clicking the “?” icon you’ll find at the top of any page. We look forward to assisting you!

 

Additional Helpful Resources

Smashwords FAQ: Here, you’ll find instant answers to dozens of common questions. You’ll also find a glossary of ebook publishing terms.

Smart Author Podcast: This free podcast, hosted by Smashwords founder Mark Coker, walks you step-by-step from the very basics of ebook publishing to more advanced topics. Learn how to publish with greater pride, professionalism and success. To listen over your web browser, or to subscribe at your favorite podcast direction, visit at our podcast hub page for direct links and complete written transcripts of all episodes.