By Mark Coker

Scribd pop indieScribd today launched an exclusive front-page merchandising promotion titled “Popular Indie Authors” featuring 18 Smashwords authors.

Congrats to featured authors Kristen Ashley, Brian S. Pratt, Quinn Loftis, F.S. Michaels, Jean Sasson, E.P.  Lenderking, Daniel Alick, John Locke, Amy Miles, Morgan Rice, JD Nixon, Rebecca Ethington, Shayne Parkinson, Julie Kenner, John Rember, Jaden Skye, Chris Dolley and Rachel Astor.

The featured authors represent a diverse cross-section of genres and categories, including fantasy, biography, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, YA romance, and dystopian SciFi.

This curated row of books will rotate among other curated and automatically generated suggested-reading rows for Scribd subscribers.  The promotion runs at least two weeks. View the titles here – http://www.scribd.com/collections/4460621/Popular-Indie or log into your Scribd subscription to view the promotion.

In the last two months, as promised in our original Scribd announcement in December, all Smashwords authors with books opted into our Scribd distribution channel as of early January received a free one-year subscription to Scribd valued at $100.  The activation links were sent out via email, and the last batch went out last week.  If you haven’t activated your account, please do so now before the offer expires (and if you never received the email, check your spam filters). Scribd has kindly extended the original deadline for activation until June 1.

The Smashwords catalog went live at Scribd on February 28, 2014, the last day of the month.  The first full month’s sales (March) exceeded my expectations.  It was the largest first-month sales for any new Smashwords retail partner in the last five years.  I know our friends at Scribd were equally pleased by the popularity of Smashwords titles.

April results were even more impressive, showing a month-over-month sequential gain of 50%.  Although the sales volume at Scribd hasn’t reached the level of iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Smashwords store, they’re off to a strong start by any measure.

Their April results alone represent nearly triple the recent combined sales of Sony and Diesel, two Smashwords retailers that exited the ebook business in March, and already represent 1/3 our Kobo sales. I’m excited to see where Scribd can take this over the next few years.

Scribd is on track to become a major contributor to the bottom lines of indie authors, and like big fishes in small pond, Smashwords authors are there first, reaching new readers, and building platform advantage that will reap dividends for years to come.  If you don’t have all your Smashwords titles opted in to Scribd, you’re missing out.  Visit your Smashwords Dashboard’s Channel Manager screen to make sure all your Premium Catalog titles are opted in.

I think history will show that the new breed of subscription ebook services like Scribd will grow the number of readers who are enjoying and consuming ebooks.  They’ll expand the reading audience and help authors reach readers that aren’t shopping at conventional retail channels where books are purchased one at a time. The two models for ebook consumption are complementary. With subscription ebook services, readers surf books effortlessly, as if visiting a massive online library, and once they hit a percentage threshold of pages read for an individual title, it triggers a full sale.

As I mentioned in the original announcement of our distribution relationship with Scribd, Scribd has repositioned their entire business around the ebook subscription model.  The site is visited by 80 million readers each month. Scribd is working to funnel all these readers into their paid subscription service.  They want to sell books for our authors!

Thank you Scribd for this great promotion, and congratulations to these fine Smashwords authors!

Can’t Get Enough of Ebook Subscriptions?

If you want to learn more about the business model of the subscription ebook services, and how these services might shape the future of reading, here are three opportunities to learn more:

1.  The Smashwords Blog.  Check out my two part blog series starting with my post, Examining the Business Model of Ebook Subscription Services.

2.  Attend a panel.  At BEA in New York on May 29 (happy birthday to me), I’m participating on a panel that will explore all aspects of the ebook subscription model titled, A Substantial Difference: How Subscription Affects the Form and Value of Content.  The panel is moderated by the awesome Peter Brantley.  The panel will be part of BISG’s Making Information Pay conference hosted at BEA.

3.  The Great Debate.  And for those of you who can’t get enough of the subscription model (or you hate it or you love it or just want to learn more), on June 11 at Noon Eastern I’m participating in a webinar debate about subscription ebook services produced by Digital Book World.  The debate is modeled after the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate series on NPR.  This will be interesting.  The proposition is, “The success of ebook subscription services will be good for publishers, authors and readers.”  Arguing in favor of this proposition will be the team of Andrew Weinstein of Scribd and yours truly (woo hoo!).  Our formidable opponents, who will argue against the proposition, are Gareth Cuddy, an ebook distributor, and Jonathan Blum a super-smart journalist for TheStreet.com who will probably cut us to pieces with his wit, charm and oratory skill. The debate is moderated by Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director for Digital Book World.  The debate is won or lost based on the number of listeners we convert to our side of the argument.  They will poll viewers before the debate and ask them if they agree or disagree.  At the end of the debate, they poll viewers again to see which side changed the most minds.  This means that if 98% of viewers agree with the proposition at the beginning, and 97% percent agree at the end, we lose.  It’ll be all in good fun!!  Register for this free event at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/302153160 and learn more at Digital Book World.

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