Digital Marketing, eBooks

How to buy and read eBooks from Smashwords

English: A variety of laptops, smartphones, ta...
English: A variety of laptops, smartphones, tablets and ebook readers arranged. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few of my readers have been confused about how to purchase and read eBooks from Smashwords, and I can understand why. How can you know which book format to choose if you don’t know that your Kindle reads .mobi files? One aspect of eBook marketing that I believe Smashwords has failed to recognize is that not all readers are as familiar with our publishing jargon as we publishers are. So, I’ve decided to provide my readers with a quick Smashwords buying guide to help you download and read mine and other indie books with as little frustration as possible.


The first thing you need to know when downloading eBooks from Smashwords is what format your particular device uses. Of course, you can choose to read online, but a dedicated eReader often offers a more seamless reading experience. The following are a few eBook formats that are available for most Smashwords books. I have listed each of them with their corresponding device/app.

  • EPUB: iPad, Adobe Digital Editions, Nook, Kobo, FBReader, Calibre, and more
  • MOBI: Kindle, FBReader, Mobipocket Reader, Kobo, and more
  • LRF: Sony Portable Reader
  • PDB: eReader/versions are available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Palm OS (not webOS), Symbian, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphone, and OS X.
  • PDF: Can be read on iPad and Kobo. However, other formats typically provide a better reading experience. PDF files can easily be converted to most of the above formats using a free online converter. Just Google it.

NOTE: This is in no way a comprehensive list. I have merely made an attempt to provide information on the most common eBook readers that you might use.

Once you have found your particular device or app in the list, you will know which type of file you should be downloading when purchasing eBooks.

Don’t have a device?

Another question I often get comes from readers (like my mom) who do not own a dedicated reading device. The good news is, as long as you own a smartphone or just about any tablet, you can easily download one or more apps to read the file types of your choice. For example, I downloaded both the Kindle app and Adobe Digital Editions to my mother’s phone so she can download the most common eBook formats. Just do a search for these and other eReader apps from your phone or tablet and install them in much the same way that you installed your Facebook app.

What about pre-orders?

As a publisher, one disappointing aspect of Smashwords is the fact that my readers are not able to pre-order my books straight from the Smashwords website. They also do not allow publishers to add links to their books on other retailer’s websites. This makes it a little difficult for the readers of my other titles to pre-order my latest book with one click from the end of my previous book.

Even though you can’t pre-order my latest book, With Envy Stung: Valley of the Bees #1 from Smashwords right now, you can get it from most retailers. Unfortunately, if I didn’t provide you with direct links to those retailers (don’t worry, I’m about to!) you would have to go to the retailers’ websites and do a search for the book yourself.

So, keep this in mind if you find a new novel on Smashwords that you would like to pre-order. If you like, you can add the title to your Smashwords library and purchase the book later. However, authors often offer their books at a special, lower price if you pre-order rather than buying on release day. For example, my book is available for pre-order now for only 99 cents. But on release day (September 1, 2016,) the cost will go up to its regular price of $3.99. In such cases, it would behoove you to search out the book and purchase it now rather than waiting.

With that said, here are the direct links I promised for you to pre-order my newest eBook novel today at its special pre-order price:

You can also order my other books, several of which are now on sale for FREE until July 31, 2016 directly from Smashwords on my author page (look for the coupon code on each individual book page to get this discount).

One last thing you need to know about supporting your favorite authors via Smashwords: To be perfectly honest, I earn a bigger commission from books purchased on Smashwords than I do on books ordered from any of the other retailers. So, if I had my druthers, that’s where I would send all of my potential customers. However, do what’s best for you. Happy eReading!

2 thoughts on “How to buy and read eBooks from Smashwords”

  1. It was confusing to order from Smashwords! But not because of what you cover in your post above. I’m used to a clear path to follow when buying and clear instructions about downloading, etc. That’s Smashwords’ responsibility. Make it confusing and difficult and they lose customers. I thought I could just download it after I paid. Then I received an e-mail with the file attached. So which is it? Very confusing.

    1. That’s really weird. I don’t think that has ever happened to me. But I agree with you that it’s not very user friendly for customers. It’s a great tool for publishers to get their books out to other retailers, though.

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