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Smashwords Wants To Set Books Free

Posted at 7:48AM Wednesday 14 May 2008

Mark Coker, founder of a Silicon Valley public-relations firm that specializes in working with startups, says he started Smashwords.com as a way of trying to help authors deal with the realities of life online. An author himself — of a novel co-written with his wife about the behind-the-scenes lives of actors on a soap opera — he says he realized how difficult it was to find a publisher as a new author, and thought the Web should be able to help.

At Smashwords, authors simply upload their novels as Word documents and then decide how much they want to charge. Users can then download the chapters or books as "e-books" that can be read on mobile devices, including Amazon's Kindle electronic-book reader — all without any digital rights management or DRM controls. Smashwords keeps 15 per cent of the revenue from the book downloads and the author gets the rest, Coker says. Authors are also encouraged to give away chapters as a way of promoting their work.

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