Feedbooks - better than Smashwords?

Posted by Paul Samael on Thursday, May 17, 2012 Under: Self-publishing

UPDATE 5.2019:  Sadly, Feedbooks has recently closed down its self-publishing platform - see this post.  Which is a shame because, in its heyday, Feedbooks performed quite well in terms of downloads (see below).  If you are looking at this because you are interested in self-publishing platforms generally, I would still recommend Smashwords - and for some other suggestions, take a look at my guide to self-publishing.

Just uploaded couple of short stories to
Feedbooks, to see how they do - and will update this post once I've reached a view on that.  But the download figures for other free, self-published material on the site look very encouraging. They more than bear comparison with Smashwords, where I'm still getting a steady trickle of downloads - but it's certainly no more than a trickle.  

UPDATE 20.1.2013:  I'm inserting this update here, at the beginning of the post, because I now have an answer (of sorts) to the question "Which is better - Feedbooks or Smashwords?" - at least so far as self-publishing is concerned.  When I first put my work up on Feedbooks, I thought it was probably going to prove better than Smashwords in terms of generating downloads.  And for the 2 shorter pieces, that has proved to be the case - but not for my novel, where Smashwords downloads really took off in the second half of last year and have outstripped Feedbooks by some margin i.e. the "trickle" referred to above has turned into a reasonably steady flow (but this took some time to build up).  For the numbers, see this post.  Another reason for being on Smashwords is that there is a greater likelihood of getting reviews/comments.  Although there is a comment facility on Feedbooks, the site overall feels like a review-free zone compared with Smashwords.  So my advice is to use both platforms - because you can't know in advance which of them is really going to perform best for any particular piece of writing.  

UPDATE 27.12.2014:  Finally, it's worth noting that if you want an accurate record of your downloads on Feedbooks, don't trust their running total - which appears to under-count.  You need to go into their analytics page every so often and tot up the daily 
downloads yourself.  Although Feedbooks have assured me that the problem has been fixed, I can assure you that it hasn't been - which is a shame, because it makes a mockery of book listings filtered by the "most popular" tag.

Anyway, here's the rest of the original post, which gives my first impressions - most of which I would stand by today (apart from the implication that Feedbooks was likely to get me more downloads than Smashwords):
I suspect that the popularity of Smashwords with other self-publishers means that it's harder to stand out (there is a tendency to get buried rather quickly under what I can only describe as an erotic avalanche of new material - and no, that's not half as much fun as it sounds). 

Rather like Bookiejar (see
this post), Feedbooks seems to be less popular with self-publishers, so "new releases" remain more visible for longer - but to judge from the download figures, it seems to be doing very well at attracting a lot of readers, possibly by marketing itself as a major source of free books (although it does offer paid-for material).  Its overall look is smarter and has more of a "quality" feel about it than Smashwords. There also seems to be less porn.  All of which may help to overcome the view amongst some readers that material which is both free and self-published cannot possibly be any good (or is bound to be irredeemably smutty).

Generally the upload process was very straightforward and much quicker (and less fussy about formatting) than Smashwords.  What you don't get is (i) the ability to get paid; and (ii) distribution to other channels i.e other ebook platforms, both of which are potentially major advantages of Smashwords.  But for me, getting paid is not an issue as I've decided to make my material available for free (click here to find out why). As for wider distribution, it's hard to tell whether you get many downloads from those sources (so far, the quarterly reports from Smashwords suggest not - or at least, not in my case).  Anyway, watch this space for updates on how the download rate for my material compares with Smashwords.

In the end though, I'm just pleased if anyone at all has read my material - and it's great that there are now so many ways of getting your work in front of potential readers.

UPDATE: 23.5.2012 - In less than a week, downloads on feedbooks for "Agricultural Production in the Sudan" have already overhauled my rather feeble total on Smashwords (52), where that story has been available since the end of January.  So in 7 days Feedbooks has more than matched what it took me 3-4 months to achieve on Smashwords.  The other story I put on Feedbooks, "The Hardest Word", did rather better on Smashwords to start with, and I still get a handful of downloads of that story most weeks - I am currently at 121 on Smashwords, which I think is an OK performance, although nothing to get terribly excited about.  But downloads from Feedbooks are already more than half way to overhauling my total downloads on Smashwords (at the time of writing I was on 75;  books by other authors on Feedbooks often seem to do better than this, so mine is by no means an exceptional performance).  I suppose the real test is whether this rate of downloads continues or whether it tails right off as soon as both pieces become less visible in the "new releases" section.  Even so, I think the numbers speak for themselves - if you are a self-published author prepared to give your material away for free, Feedbooks would seem to deliver better results than Smashwords.  But I intend to continue using both platforms.

UPDATE 13.6.2012 - "The Hardest Word" is now at 181 downloads on Feedbooks - even though it is now on page 4 or 5 of the "New Releases" and one might have expected that to lead to a tailing off in the level of interest.  Although the rate of downloads has decreased, I still seem to be getting around 4-5 a day, which is much better than Smashwords (where my downloads stand at 125 and I count myself lucky if I get 4-5 in a week).

UPDATE 1.7.2012 - My novel is on 108 downloads on Feedbooks in little over a week, which - though not spectacular - is not bad going and easily beats the performance of "The Hardest Word" and "Agricultural Production...".  However, downloads for both those stories have now pretty much ground to a halt.  I'm not sure why this is.  It could be that I made a mistake in putting the novel on so soon afterwards e.g. maybe people are saying "OK, this writer has 3 books on here - I'll download the longest and if that's any good, I'll check out his other stuff."  Or it could just be that after about a month or so, downloads do start to tail off.  But Feedbooks still beats Smashwords, where downloads of my novel are in the low 50s, despite it being on there a week longer.

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In : Self-publishing 

Tags: feedbooks  smashwords  ebooks  "free books" 
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About Me

Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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