In a deal that unites two of the largest independent distributors of self-published books, Draft2Digital has agreed to acquire Smashwords for an undisclosed price. The purchase is expected to be complete by March 1, at which time the combined company will operate under the Draft2Digital name. The combined company will distribute more than 800,000 titles from about 250,000 authors and publishers.
Smashwords was started in 2008 by Mark Coker, and Draft2Digital was cofounded four years later by Kris Austin. In a joint interview, Coker and Austin said combining forces will allow the new company to operate from a single platform and free up resources to develop new tools for authors. “We will be able to reduce redundancies between the companies and look for new ways to grow,” Austin said.
The new Draft2Digital will add “a few” new retailers by combining the companies, Austin said, including the Smashwords Store, which will sell Draft2Digital titles for the first time. According to Smashwords, sales at the store have increased annually over the last five years, including a 20% increase in December over December 2020. Both said that, unlike for traditional publishers, e-book sales for the two distributors rose in 2021 over 2020.
Although Draft2Digital started four years after Smashwords, it is the larger of the two companies, and Coker was effusive in his praise of what Austin and his team have accomplished. “When we began talking, it became clear to me that in teaming with Kris we could continue to be a leader in the self-publishing distribution business,” Coker said. Following the completion of the acquisition, Austin will be CEO, and Coker will become chief strategy officer.
Smashwords is known for its marketing tools, while Draft2Digital has developed a robust print option for authors through its D2D Print service. Austin said the company currently has 11,000 print titles, a number that he said will soar to more than 100,000 this year. “2022 is the year of print at Draft2Digital,” Austin said. He attributed the boom to new software tools that make it much easier to convert an e-book file into a print file.
Austin and Coker will soon begin reaching out to authors and retailers to explain how the acquisition will affect them. “We’re excited to see what we can achieve working together,” Austin said of the deal.