Smashwords Launches Public Beta of Breakthrough Digital Publishing Platform for Authors, Poets and Screenwriters

Free Service Helps Authors Reach a World Wide Audience

Los Gatos, May 6, 2008 -- Smashwords, a new digital publishing startup, today launched a public beta of its breakthrough digital publishing platform for authors. The site is live today at and will serve the needs of authors and readers around the globe.

Smashwords allows independent authors to digitally publish, sample and sell their novels, personal memoirs, short fiction, essays, poetry, non-fiction and screenplays. Authors receive 85% the net sales proceeds from their works, and retain full control over sampling, pricing and marketing.

The site offers authors free viral marketing tools to build readership, such as percent-based sampling; dedicated pages for author profiles and book profiles; support for embedded YouTube book trailers, author interviews and video blogs; reader reviews; and reader "favoriting."

"The idea behind Smashwords is simple," said Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, based in Los Gatos, Calif. "We make it easy for any author to digitally publish their work to a worldwide audience."

For fans of the written word, Smashwords provides an opportunity to discover new voices in literature, poetry and non-fiction. The site offers useful tools for search, discovery and personal library-building. Readers can often sample 50% or more of many Smashwords titles for free before making a purchase decision, and because the books are digital, they cost much less than print books.

To publish on Smashwords, authors simply upload the Microsoft Word file of their work to the site; assign percentage-based sampling rights; and then assign pricing (including the honor system option where authors let customers decide what to pay). Smashwords automatically converts the book into multiple DRM-free ebook formats for online reading or download to ebook reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader, the Irex Iliad, the Apple iPhone, the Blackberry, Palm smart phones or even one’s own personal computer. The supported ebook formats include .mobi, PDF, .txt., .rtf and Palm Doc .pdb. More formats, including .epub, are planned.

Background on Smashwords Founder, Mark Coker

Mark Coker is an entrepreneur, author and angel investor based in Los Gatos, California. In prior and current business ventures, he has leveraged the power of the Internet to bring positive social change.

The inspiration for Smashwords grew out of founder Mark Coker's experience as an aspiring novelist. In 2002, Coker and his wife Lesleyann co-authored a novel entitled Boob Tube that explores the behind-the-scenes world of daytime television soap operas (Lesleyann is a former reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine and a current columnist for Despite two years of representation from one of New York City's most respected literary agencies, their agent was unable to land a book deal. Some publishers said they rejected the manuscript because they questioned whether soap opera fans read books. Coker found it frustrating that a publisher could stand in the way between his book and potential readers who might enjoy the book. Shortly thereafter, he started building Smashwords - an online publishing platform that would accept all authors.

“We give authors the power to determine what’s worth publishing and we let readers determine what’s worth reading,” continued Coker. “Until today, too much of this power lay in the hands of agents, publishers, book distributors and book stores.”

His previous startup,, which he launched in 1999, set out to level the playing field for small stock market investors who at the time were denied access to the earnings conference calls of publicly traded companies. At BestCalls, he championed fair disclosure and argued small investors deserved to receive market-moving information at the same time as big Wall Street investors. His work served as a catalyst for the SEC's Regulation FD, which mandated a level playing field for all investors. BestCalls was acquired in 2002 by and is now owned and operated by the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

Boob Tube makes its debut today on Smashwords.

In addition to his work with Smashwords, Coker serves on the advisory board for, and is an investor in, Flat World Knowledge, a provider of open source textbooks.

Since 1993, Coker has owned Dovetail Public Relations, an award-winning Silicon Valley PR firm. He looks forward to applying his marketing knowledge to create new book marketing tools for Smashwords authors.

About Smashwords, Inc.

Founded in 2007, privately held Smashwords operates an online digital publishing platform for authors of ebooks and screenplays. Smashwords allows anyone to become a published author in minutes. The free service puts authors in full control over the marketing, pricing, sampling and licensing of their works. In addition to receiving exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential readers, authors receive 85% of the net proceeds from sales of their works. For readers, Smashwords offers the opportunity to discover exciting new voices in fiction and non-fiction. For traditional publishers of print books, Smashwords offers a compelling distribution channel through which they can digitize their entire portfolio of frontlist, backlist and out-of-print books. Smashwords, Inc. is based in Los Gatos, California, and can be reached on the web at Visit the official Smashwords blog at