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Mel Hopkins

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Blockchain Technology may cause the next disruption in book-selling and "Put Authors At Center of Publishing Universe".

Blockchain, the underpinnings of the bitcoin launched in 2009, "is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network.  Using this technology, participants can confirm transactions without a central authority. 

Potential applications include fund transfers, settling trades, voting and many other uses. " Source:  PwC (see the infographic)  





As we all know,  one of the centralized authorities in bookselling is an online retail store, namely Amazon. 


With blockchain technology, books will contain smart contracts between the author and publisher.  Also spelled out in the block,  will be subsidiary rights, payment etc, essentially cutting out the middlemen (maybe even bowker's isbn too!  But I digress.  


From Publisher's weekly:


So how would blockchain work for books?


Basically, a digital book created in the blockchain holds both the text, and also all the terms of a book’s contract—referred to as a “smart contract”—including but not limited to commercial terms of sale (and even resale), author credit and other information.


The Alliance of Indepedent Authors (ALLi) has published a white paper on blockchain for books.

When a user purchases a blockchain book, the transaction is direct between author and reader—no middleman, like Amazon. The reader gets the text within an app. The text cannot be tampered with or transferred outside of the contract terms coded therein. And the author is paid immediately, with payments divvied up according to the smart contract—for example, the contract might call for 10% of the book's price to go the author’s publisher.

And yes, payments are made in cryptocurrency directly to the authors “digital wallet.” 


By the way, this isn't years away; it is happening now with one of the first books launched in April at the London Book Fair. 

Also from Publisher's Weekly:

Josef Marc, CEO of upstart blockchain publisher Publica, announced that the company had just gone live in the Google Play Store with author Sukhi Jutla’s Escape The Cubicle: Quit The Job You Hate.

Without getting too technical, Publica offers the service to authors to crowdfund their publications through ICO (initial coin offerings).     

So who knows, maybe , @Troy will use a blockchain platform to publish authors and create AALBC tokens too? 


Decentralization is putting the power back into the hands of the people.  


For the times they are a-changin'.



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  • 3 weeks later...

At the IBPA Publishers' University I sat at a table where a small group was listening to a speaker talk about block chain. We did not get anything like the detailed explanation that I just read in your post, Mel. Whenever someone asked him to explain how it would help us sell books, he just said, "Put it in the Blockchain!"


We walked away with the feeling that this was a scam. Now, it's true maybe this person had more enthusiasm than knowledge, but he reeked of con man.


The articles that you have posted give a much clearer picture of what Blockchain is and how it can help people sell books directly  to readers and cut out the middle person. However, when I saw it was based on bitcoin and digital currency, I once again smelled a scam.


I will look for cautionary tales to post about bitcoin. I don't expect anyone to be persuaded because of my skepticism without any evidence to back it up. I also know that everyone reading our posts will do their research before they leap into this. But so many of us writers and publishers are so desperate to get our stories and our books out, it would be heartbreaking if some of us fell into a trap.


Yes, I am sure I would have been the last to ride in let alone buy one of those "new-fangled autoMObiles," so you should know that about me. But let's all look carefully before we leap.


All the Best,



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3 hours ago, Wendy Jones said:

I will look for cautionary tales to post about bitcoin. I don't expect anyone to be persuaded because of my skepticism without any evidence to back it up.

@Wendy Jones  T

Thank you for responding!  What exactly has you squeamish about bitcoin?  My mother says she doesn't trust anything that she can't hold in her hand. lol.  Anyway, here’s a good resource.   https://bitcoin.org/en/getting-started

Bitcoin is the original decentralized cryptocurrency.   Altcoins (alternative coins) are cryptocurrency coins that are not bitcoin.  Cryptocurrency coins can be traded (bought and sold) and stored on a cryptocurrency exchange such as Coinbase, Bitstamp, Kraken et al.   These digital transactions are secure because Blockchain technology is difficult counterfeit or hack.   Every block in the chain serves as verification for the block that came before it. 


If someone adds a wanky block to the chain that doesn't include the transaction information of all that came before it; it will be rejected.

Aside: this is where bitcoin mining comes in; which is a lot like a lottery because any available computer can mine bitcoin but only one will get the reward.  No one knows who will be awarded  bitcoin for processing the transaction either.   Also, there is a total of 21-million bitcoin available for mining period. 


Bitcoin (or altcoins such as Ethereum Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash) rise in value based on demand.   Yes, cryptocurrency trading is volatile.   And no, it's not regulated by a central banking system.  Decentralized means there is no middle person.  Blockchain technology is what makes bitcoin cryptocurrency possible.  After the housing crisis of 2008, the bitcoin creator wanted to make sure the world wouldn't have to depend on the central banking system ever again.  With bitcoin we don't have to - well as long as we can communicate via wireless technology.   


See this article: bitcoin without the internet

You and I can make a transaction through our digital wallets without ever involving centralized agencies.  We are virtually anonymous to the centralized banking system unless they can track us through our cryptocurrency address. 

Now, once the transaction is made; it's final.  Our transaction is subject to a mining fee - but it’s a trade between you and I.  If you say, I change my mind, oh well.  But since you and I know each other I could send you the value you sent me. -Note: The value we originally exchanged could be worth more on less on the day the new transaction is made. 


For example, I bought $5 of bitcoin - and minus the transaction fee (mining) I ended up with $4.20... at the time I'm writing this my bitcoin share value is $4.02 USD - I need to include 1 – bitcoin is currently valued at $6,146.30
But I digress.

There are also tokens in the cryptocurrency system and that's where it gets tricky.   Tokens are NOT cryptocurrency.  Cryptocurrency exchanges won't except tokens for trading.  


But to understand the concept of a token, consider this; a token represents something of value in the system. 


For example, in the 90s, you needed a NYC subway token to ride the train. You gave the token booth clerk $1 and s/he gave you a token coin to ride the subway.  That token had value but only in the NYC subway system. Take that token elsewhere and it isn't worth the money you paid for it. 

That's how tokens work in the cryptocurrency system.   A token is programmable digital asset that has value within the owner's system.   It can serve as a utility, equity, security or service token. For purpose of this post we'll discuss utility tokens. 


The token functions within newly created software application built on blockchain technology.  But tokens aren't mined like bitcoin or Ethereum.  A founder of a startup can sell tokens for cash or cryptocurrency to fund their cryptocurrency or technology projects. 


It appears startups such as Publica is using utility tokens. When startups sell tokens to fund their project it is called an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).  In this case, Publica is offering a Book ICO to would-be authors.    The author sets the price for the token in their crowdfunding campaign.  Once the book is finished it's published on blockchain technology. 

Patrons investing in the author's proposed book will purchase tokens with centralized cash i.e, dollars. They will receive something like a digital coupon in return.  

The author gets the cash to work on their manuscript. When the book is complete the patron will receive a copy.    


So of course, trust is factor.  We are writers/publishers not software developers building an application on blockchain technology.  We must trust that all these moving parts will add up to actual cash for us and a book for our readers. I also need more information on publishing on blockchain.  I will continue to publish updates here.

I'm new to cryptocurrency and blockchain but this represents my current understanding.  Feel free to ask me anything - but please understand this is information is not for investment purposes. It's just an overview. 

But if you choose to sign up for a Coinbase account – here’s my referral link.

https://www.coinbase.com/join/5b11cf8faa08ff01f4db26b8  Thank you!


Edited by Mel Hopkins
typos corrected and added a referral link
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