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smashTwo eBook companies are creating an alliance that will help democratize eBook publishing for authors and small independent presses around the world. Smashwords and Shortcovers are teaming up to distribute eBook content in international markets.

shortToronto, Canada-based Shortcovers, an eReading application owned by Indigo Books & Music, will distribute eBooks published by Smashwords on a worldwide basis. Shortcovers will distribute the eBooks in 189 countries. Smashwords has more than 5,000 original eBooks from 2,300 self-published authors and small publishers from 20 countries.

Since February, Shortcovers has operated a mobile and web-based eReading service with almost a million downloads. It has apps on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, and Google Android smartphones. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords in Los Gatos, Calif., said that a Smashwords can upload a book today and have the book purchased by consumers in the U.S., India, or South Africa next week. In September, Smashwords announced its books would be available on the Sony Reader. Smashwords also has a deal with Barnes & Noble.

Smashwords authors and publishers get royalties of 46.75 percent of the digital list price of their book sales on Shortcovers, nearly 10 times the royalty rate that authors earn on print mass market paperbacks, and four times higher than royalties on hardcover books. Smashwords’ rivals include, and Scribd.

Coker was an aspiring novelist, but major New York publishers rejected his novel. So he founded Smashwords and launched it 18 months ago. He funded it with his own money. The eBook market is starting to take off. Amazon.con has seen good sales of its Kindle eBook reader and digital books have now exceeded games as new releases on the iPhone, according to Flurry.

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