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Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker takes a look at the past year and what is planned ahead.

Smashwords Year In Review

Smashwords continued to see growth in 2013. The site began in 2008 with just a handful of books to give writers (including him) an outlet beyond traditional publishing. Every year, the site has gotten bigger and bigger, becoming one of the most influential distribution outlets in the e-book market.

In 2013, 25,000 new authors joined Smashwords bringing the total to more than 83,000 on the site. In addition, it added more than 85,000 book titles.

Smashwords authors found success as well.

Record revenue – Our authors’ sales grew to $20 million, up 33% from $15 million the year before. We’re proud that 100% of our revenue in 2013 came from the sale of books to readers. We don’t sell publishing packages and we don’t employ sales people. Our income is entirely based on our commission on book sales to readers which for most sales is 10% of the retail price.

Smashwords recently redesigned its website – a much-needed endeavor. In 2014, it plans to give authors more control and information such as improving its distribution channels and giving authors better sales reports.

What’s ahead for publishing?

While the last couple of years have been exciting for indie publishers, Coker thinks the road might get more difficult in 2014.

He offered 14 predictions for the coming with year with a feeling that traditional publishers will be fighting back.

“In 2014 their temporary price promotions will give way to a new normal. Discounting is a slippery slope. Once customers are conditioned to expect big-name authors for $3.99 or less, the entire industry will be forced to go there. The huge pricing advantage once enjoyed by indies will diminish in 2013.”

Coker also predicts eBook sales, in terms of dollars, will slow down.

“The nascent e-book market is likely to experience its first annual downturn in sales as measured in dollar volume. This will be driven by price declines among major publishers and by the slowing transition from print to screens. Although readers will continue migrating from print to screens, the early adopters have adopted and the laggards will shift more slowly. … As e-books as a percentage of the overall book market increase, it means the growth of e-books will become constrained by the growth and/or contraction of the overall book industry. Global sales in developing countries remain one potential bright spot that could mitigate any sales contraction.”

Another prediction is that indie authors will face its strongest competition yet – from other indie writers and mainstream authors moving over to the “dark side” (my words, not his).

“The next generation of writers can begin writing their book with the full confidence that one way or another, it will get published. Traditionally published authors now realize they have desirable publishing alternatives they never had before. Once a writer – any writer – comes to the realization that the power in the publishing industry has transferred from publishers to writers, it opens up a new world of possibilities.”

Read Coker’s full list of predictions here.

Also, read Teleread’s Joanna Cabot’s 2014 epublishing predictions.

 
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