Got this today in email...
Interesting stuff - including mention of a plan to use the EPUB for generating other formats in the future.
Over the last two years, one of the most common feature requests we received was for Smashwords to allow direct uploads of professionally designed .epub files. As you know, .epub is the open industry standard ebook format that is sold by every major ebook retailer except Amazon.
When you upload a Microsoft Word .doc file to Smashwords, formatted per the instructions of the Smashwords Style Guide, our free Meatgrinder conversion system automatically transforms your manuscript into up to nine different ebook formats, including .epub. Our multi-format approach makes your book accessible to readers of any e-reading device.
If you carefully follow the instructions in the Style Guide, you'll produce a professional quality ebook for your readers. Meatgrinder's Word .doc conversion works great on most books, especially fiction and narrative non-fiction. Although Meatgrinder supports a wide range of professional styling, some of our authors and publishers wanted the ability to upload their own hand-coded, professionally designed .epubs.
This is what Smashwords Direct now allows.
Although Smashwords Direct opens up new possibilities for some authors and publishers, I expect the majority of the Smashwords community will continue to favor Meatgrinder's Word .doc conversion system as their preferred publishing workflow. It's fast, free, easy and flexible. You don't need to be a programmer or computer nerd to produce a high-quality ebook with Meatgrinder.
Smashwords Direct is exciting to me because it allows Smashwords to accept and distribute books with more sophisticated formatting than is possible with Meatgrinder. It also sets the stage for us to one day accept future file formats that simply aren't possible with Meatgrinder.
Smashwords Direct is now in live beta. This first iteration of Smashwords Direct supports two methods of direct .epub upload:
1. You can replace your Smashwords-generated epub with your own epub. To do this, click to your Dashboard, then click "Upload New Version," then upload your file.
2. If you're preparing to publish a new book not yet at Smashwords, sign in to your Smashwords account, click the regular Publish link, then fill out the publish page as you would normally, but upload your EPUB instead of a Word .doc. Later, if you wish, you can add more ebook formats to your book page by uploading a Word .doc, formatted to the Style Guide.
It's important to note that if you upload a direct .epub, we do not yet use it to produce other formats. We will likely add this capability in future iterations of Smashwords Direct (most likely for Kindle .mobi) although I don't expect we'll ever be able to match the broad multi-format options already possible when you feed Meatgrinder a Word .doc.
If you're interested to learn more about the Smashwords Direct feature, here are two pages to study first:
1. The original blog post, announcing SWD: http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/12/s...oads-with.html
2. The online documentation for SWD: https://www.smashwords.com/swdirect
We will continue to enhance Smashwords Direct based on your feedback and suggestions.