Scribd deal with Smashwords will pay out on 15% partial reads

A unique new twist to the Smashwords deal with ebook subscription service Scribd this week means authors will get paid for partial reads even if only just over 15% of their book is read.

Subscription services generally pay the author for a full read when the reader reaches a trigger point of 30% of the book. The first 10% of the book is considered to be a free sample and then once a further 20% of the book has been read, a full sale is triggered.

For a full sale, a Smashwords author earns 60% of the list price from Scribd, up to a maximum of $12.50 per read.

But Scribd is now offering Smashwords writers a credit for partial reads where the subscriber reads just 5% more than the first free 10% but less than the additional 20% needed for a full sale.

This means that if only 16-29% of a book is read, the author will earn a partial credit and for every 10 of these partial reads the author earns a credit for a full sale.

Smashwords points out that for non-fiction, where readers are more likely to read non-sequentially, they could, for example, read 5% of the middle of the book and trigger a browse credit.

For ebook sales in Scribd’s retail store, the terms are the same to Smashwords standard retail agreements. Authors or publishers will set the price, there will be no discounting and authors will earn 60% of the list price on all sales. The first 10% of the book, from the cover image forward, will be the free preview sample.

The link-up also includes a free Scribd subscription for a year worth over $100, as the firm charges $8.99 a month, and a range of marketing support.

Smashwords and Scribd have started integrating distribution systems and conducting test shipments and Smashwords books are expected to start appearing on Scribd’s service in January. To qualify for Scribd distribution via Smashwords, books must be Premium Catalog approved at Smashwords.

Smashwords founder and CEO Mark Coke says: “Ever since Scribd launched in 2007, I’ve admired their publishing platform, their commitment to content creators and their social reading technology. Scribd has built a massive audience of millions of readers and these readers are now accessible to the 70,000-plus authors and small independent presses that publish and distribute with Smashwords. I’m looking forward to working in partnership to introduce Scribd’s customers to the amazing talent within the Smashwords catalog.”

Scribd’s ebook subscription service was launched this year but the company was set up nearly seven years ago and claims to be the world’s biggest digital library. It is based in San Francisco and features over 40 million books and documents, with an audience of 80 million people a month. It includes a very wide range of content covering books by new authors to court filings and academic papers from scholars around the world.

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