NFTs in the Publishing Industry

By Priyal Maheshwari

The publishing industry has seen a lot of ups and downs.With the rise of media readily available, to the shift in digital books (or e-books), the traditional publishing industry is constantly fighting between keeping its rich heritage alive and merging with the new technological trends. The rise of self-publishing (i.e. cutting the middle-man, the publisher, or the publishing house), has allowed authors to publish their own books and enjoy all of the profits earned. A major difference between self-publishing and publishing via a publishing house is that the publishing houses are well established and have operational, marketing, and distribution resources.

That being said, the biggest advantage of self-publishing books is that the profitability for the authors increases significantly. In this digital era, the biggest book market is online – via Amazon and other online options, surpassing physical bookstores sales. We are seeing a rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs are unique digital assets on blockchain technology that can be anything from art, and music, to your brain downloaded and converted into an AI. A lot of the hype around NFTs currently exists in the art world. For example, Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT is one of the most successful NFTs right now. NFTs can be used for all sorts of digital assets, including e-books. In fact, in 2021 the first NFT comic book called Mermaid Eclipse was released, since then many “Special Edition E-books” or “Rare collectibles” have been released. 

But why would NFTs work in the publishing industry?

  1. Resale Revenue: Once the NFT is purchased, the reader can resell the NFT (just like second handbooks). However, as NFTs are digital assets, some percentage of the resale price will actually be transferred to the author! This way authors will make a profit with every resale.
  1. Bundling Files Options: An NFT e-book is essentially just a .zip file with not only the novel but videos, unique art, audio, or any other special items related to the books. This is easy to do for e-books on NFTs and is also beneficial for the author as it would increase the books’ value.
  1. Better Pricing/Higher Profit Margin: As mentioned before, self-publishing is better for cutting out intermediaries. However, up till now, even self-published books needed a platform like Amazon to be sold on. Authors can further overcome this barrier, and sell their NFTs without any intermediaries. This will also increase the price at which an author can sell their books, and lead to a better profit margin for them.

NFT e-books can revolutionize the publishing industry. However, the industry is still nascent, and there is a lot of backlash on NFTs being environmentally unfriendly. NFTs are changing the way artists work but we still need to wait and watch how the majority of the consumers react to NFT e-books.

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