Stepping up its support of self-published and independently published books, the Apple iBookstore has launched a new category called Breakout Books. While the iBookstore has always accepted self-published works, the new iBookstore category gives publishers and authors a new platform for marketing and promoting their books and highlights both the growing sales of self-published titles and the increasing significance of the category.

The bulk of the titles featured right now in the iBookstore’s new Breakout Books category are from Smashwords, the self-publishing platform founded by Mark Coker. Smashword e-books are distributed through Apple devices to the North American market and globally to about 50 countries. Smashwords distributes about 120,000 e-book titles via Apple devices. According to a spokesperson for Smashwords, “Since Christmas, iBookstore customers have downloaded an average of more than 1 million free and priced Smashwords books a week.”

Titles in the new iBookstore Breakout Books section are priced from free to $2.99 to $10.99 and include self-published bestsellers like science-fiction author Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus ($5.99) and bestselling romance authors like Bella Andre (Let Me Be the One, $3.99). According to the Smashwords blog, the Breakout Books section was launched first via the Australian iBookstore and the Smashwords titles featured in the section were chosen on the basis of “positive reader reviews, author popularity at the store, quality cover designs, sales performance,” and other data driven factors.