Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

Photo of Mark Coker

Mark Coker Founder, CEO Smashwords

This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.

Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords  to change the way books are published, marketed and sold.  In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers.  The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.

Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?

A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.

Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?

old man reading computer

“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”


A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.

Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?

A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.

Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?

“If you build it, they will come.”

A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree.  As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.

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2 Responses to Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

  1. Very interesting point on “the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it”. Definitely a valid argument. Most people who get books or music illegally are going to get it anyways, but at least through this method you have a chance to increase your brand exposure as an author!

  2. ben Cutler says:

    Dear Sirs;

    The book that I am capable of correcting is “Cutler Generation” by Nahum Cutler. I believe it was published in Greenfield, Mass. sometime in the 1880s.

    How do I get to it?

    Ben Cutler

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