It's been about a week since we uploaded our book list to Smashwords. It's a decision I don't regret.
Sure there's still raging debate in the publishing community regarding digital rights management. After reading a great deal about it I've come to the following conclusion: It doesn't matter.
Yep. It's doesn't matter. Digital rights management doesn't matter.
The reason I've come to that conclusion follows this path of logic. In print media, after a book is sold, can we control how many people are able to read that book? No. Even if we were to start a draconian and Orwellian practice of chipping books and then swooping down on avid readers with the authority of the law, how would that affect families who share books, friends, used booksellers and book swaps? The entire argument opens such a logistical nightmare that it's best to leave that djinni in the bottle.
I ask, then, what is the difference between loaning a book to my daughter and loaning a digital book to my daughter? To my view, none.
And I'm surprised as you about that conclusion, because I've been a staunch supporter of protecting authors' rights.
But having realized there is no way to control how many people read a book, or a digital book, and accepting that reality, I've also come to the realization it's in my own, and the authors Five Rivers represents, best interest to maximize exposure in the marketplace. By signing up with Smashwords I believe Five Rivers has achieved part of that goal.
When first Smashwords came into existence in 2008 I don't think anyone realized the phenomenon it would become. In one short year they've gone from a digital publishing platform for indie authors and publishers, to a digital book distributor of considerable clout, enough clout that earlier this year they brokered a deal with Barnes and Noble and Sony to distribute Smashwords' list. Then just under a month ago came the announcement Indigo's Shortcovers would carry Smashwords' list, which was quickly followed by the acquisition of BookHabit, another digital book publisher with 340 authors and over 600 eBooks.
Yesterday Smashwords announced the premiere deal of them all, an agreement with bookseller giant Amazon to distribute all Smashwords' list to Amazon's, thereby making every Smashwords eBook available to the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Android.
And that means all Five Rivers' books will be available not only through older, conventional eBook sellers through our Ingram distribution channel, but the giants listed above because of our Smashwords connection.
It's an exciting, rapidly evolving time to be involved in publishing, and here at Five Rivers we're thrilled to be part of it.