NFT stands for Non Fungible Tokens, and it’s making big waves these days. The hype is a bit unjustified, because this is not a new technology (I’m even having a hard time calling it a technology, it’s just a particular use case for blockchain), but when was ever hype justified? That’s why it’s hype, anyways, because people irrationally buy into it.
Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go, and listed on of my ebooks on an NFT marketplace, namely Mintable. You can find it here, if you’re curious. And, just in case you’re wondering, here are the reasons.
To be honest, I’m very curious about this process. Selling online (specifically, selling books online) is not something new for me. I’ve been around since self-publishing on Amazon was for a few initiates. But selling online on a blockchain, using a Non Fungible Token, well, that’s something I never done.
Beyond the selling process, though, there is another type of curiosity, and that’s a technical one. Since NFT is rather new, it means there are quite a few different implementations of it, and each marketplace has its own characteristics. I looked so far at OpenSea, Cargo, NFTMarketplace on Hive and, obviously, Mintable (no links, if you’re curious, just do a search on google). All these platforms are oriented towards digital art, and just Mintable offer the options to have an embedded, downloadable file. I was also curious if any of these stores the content on IPFS (see below why).
The second biggest reason was the desire to learn. I did quite a lot of research before stopping at Mintable, and I even played with the idea of deploying my own smart contract on the Hive blockchain (or, to be more precise, on a layer 2 implementation, Hive Engine). I’m still keen to do this, but I don’t think it’s a good moment. I need to experiment more, to have a better understanding of the processes involved.
I believe there is a huge opportunity for independent authors to have their work sold as NFTs. Although a book is not a unique, unrepeatable piece, like a painting or a sculpture, a certain edition of a book can be regarded as an NFT. This takes me back to the times where there were those things called “princeps” editions, I wonder if anyone still remember those. There were premium, limited editions, and they usually counted as collectibles.
On top of that, there is also the content alteration issue. We live in an age where AI can fool us very easily, and where information is skewed all the time by algorithms, in an eternal search for ROI. So, putting your book on IPFS (something that very few platforms are doing right now) could be a very simple way to prove that you’re actually buying what the author meant, and that specific piece will be inalterable (just like a “princeps” edition).
What Could Happen
Or, in other words, what do I expect from this little experiment?
I if actually sell the book (it’s only one copy in this NFT, so it’s just a one time sale) then I will get an incentive to pursue this area more, and, probably to implement my ideas about an NFT marketplace specifically for books. Something like Apple’s Books app, or Kindle app, but built on top of NFT. This has a few interesting cryptographic challenges, and I’d be very keen to work on a project like that.
If I don’t sell the book, well, that’s it. At least I had a little bit of fan, and will wait to see what the markets and hype are going to do about putting books on sale as NFTs.