Smashwords has released its 5 billionth word! Spread out over 138,071 books, those 5 billion words have been amassed in the four years since the site went public back in 2008. There’s no indication of which book contained the 5 billionth word, or what that word might have been.
As the Smashwords blog notes, if a writer typed out 25 word per minute without taking a break, it would take 1,141 years to write 5 billion. 1,141 years ago it was the year 871 AD, when Alfred the Great succeeded Ethelred as king of Wesses, so if Alfred had started writing back then and had somehow managed not to die, he’d have hit his 5 billionth word around now.
On a more serious note, the population of the planet is estimated to 6,894,594,844, so Smashwords’ 5 billion words represent one word for every 1.37 people. And words by Smashwords authors have value: an estimated $20m will be made by Smashwords authors this year.