By Mark Coker
Smashwords today announced a comprehensive distribution agreement with Gardners, the UK’s largest book wholesaler.
The agreement significantly expands the global footprint of the Smashwords ebook distribution network, enabling Smashwords authors and publishers to reach hundreds of online retailers, public libraries and academic libraries.
On October 22 Smashwords will begin delivering 230,000 ebooks sourced from the over 100,000 indie authors and small independent presses to 400 ebook stores powered by Gardners operating in 32 countries and serving customers in 138 countries; 2,000 public libraries in the U.K.; and 400 academic libraries in the UK, Europe and Middle East. The agreement excludes Smashwords erotica titles.
Gardners clients and their customers will gain access to many of the world’s bestselling indie authors, including numerous New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. The Smashwords catalog features a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction titles, and is especially strong in popular genre fiction including romance, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy and science fiction.
Agreement Spans Retail and Libraries
The comprehensive partnership covers both retail and library distribution.
Gardners Extended Retail Distribution – Gardners powers the online ebook store operations of over 400 small and medium-sized booksellers globally as part of its white label ecommerce and digital content fulfillment & distribution services.
Notable retailers with ebook stores powered by Gardners include www.hive.co.uk, www.books.telegraph.co.uk , www.indieebook.co.uk in the UK, www.bokus.com in Sweden , www.takealot.com in South Africa and www.saxo.com in Denmark. Hive.co.uk, which is owned and operated by Gardners, is interesting because it features and supports hundreds of independent brick and mortar retailers. Every sale benefits the consumer’s selected shop. Hive features a large range of titles from the Gardners catalog of over five million items which include ebooks, print books, DVDs, audiobooks, stationary supplies and more.
Smashwords authors and publishers will earn 60% of the after-VAT list price at Gardners-powered ebook stores, the same terms as they earn with Smashwords at iBooks and other major retailers.
Gardners library ebook distribution will allow Smashwords authors and publishers to reach both public libraries and academic libraries.
Askews & Holts Library Services – Askews & Holts (A&H) is a sister company to Gardners, and operates the UK’s largest library ebook service. A&H currently powers the ebook checkout systems of 81 public library authorities in the U.K. comprised of 2,000+ public libraries. This represents over half of the UK library authorities, serving a local population of 17 million people.
The A&H library service is really interesting. Unlike conventional library ebook services that require the library to purchase the book prior to allowing the patron to discover and sample it, A&H offers libraries a truly patron-driven service. All Smashwords titles will be available and discoverable to library patrons. Patrons can search the catalog and when they check out a book it triggers a purchase by the library, assuming it wasn’t previously purchased or checked out at the time. This patron-driven approach to library ebooks solves a significant budgetary challenge faced by all libraries – namely that libraries under other systems routinely waste precious budget to purchase books that are never read. Libraries can set monthly budgets to control costs. Once budgets are met, library patrons are given the option to purchase books that aren’t yet in the library’s catalog, or that might already be checked out. Also in a significant first, A&H will include all Smashwords books priced at FREE so library patrons can access the books at no cost. By contrast, Smashwords partner OverDrive, the world’s largest library ebook platform, doesn’t support free books and prices all sub-$1.99 and free Smashwords ebooks at $1.99. This minimum pricing requirement has disappointed some Smashwords authors and publishers that want to show their support for libraries by offering their books at lower-than-retail prices including FREE. With the Smashwords Pricing Manager tool in the Smashwords Dashboard, authors and publishers can set custom prices for libraries. Similar to our library distribution deals with OverDrive and Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Smashwords authors and publishers will earn 45% of the list price for all library sales. Also similar to our other library deals, once an A&H library purchases a Smashwords title, they own it can check it out to one patron at a time.
VLeBooks – Smashwords titles will also be accessible on the VLeBooks service, the ebook platform for Browns Books for Students, another sister company of Gardners that serves academic libraries.
VLeBooks is used by 400 schools & colleges in Europe, the Middle East & Asia and 78 universities in the UK, with over 200,000 students registered on the platform. More than 16,000 academic librarians and teachers utilize the platform for their digital and physical book orders. The terms of sale for VLeBooks are the same as for Askews & Holts.
How to Distribute Ebooks to Gardners
Smashwords shipments to Gardners will begin on October 22, seven days from today. If you want your books distributed to these new Gardners channels, your Premium Catalog-approved books (excluding erotica) will automatically flow to them starting in one week.
If you wish to opt out of either the Gardners retail or library channels (NOT recommended), you’ll find the option in your Dashboard’s Channel Manager. Two channels are listed separately, one is labeled Gardners Extended Retail Distribution and the other, which comprises both library channels is labeled Gardners Library Distribution. With distribution beginning in one week, Smashwords estimates that most Smashwords books will be listed at these services within six to eight weeks, although titles may appear earlier or later than anticipated.
Thank you Gardners for supporting Smashwords authors and publishers!