Works and Creations, As Vivid As Real is going to be republished in the form of an NFT book. Nearly twenty years after the initial edition, the new version has been thoroughly revised and a brand new chapter added as a preface. It is natural to ask: Why not reprint in physical form? Let me assume you are a reader who primarily buys physical books, with the occasional eBook purchase. I will try to explain my reasons for publishing using NFT in a thousand words, and I hope to win your support.
First, let’s talk about the limitations of traditional paper books. No matter how many copies are printed in each edition, there is always a limit to the quantity of physical books. Unless it’s a long-standing bestseller, most books will eventually face a slowdown in sales, cease to be printed, and ultimately go out of print. Add to that the constraints of distribution and sales channels due to geographic, economic, or political factors, it is difficult for books to find readers and vice versa. The Chinese reading community has already globalized, but the distribution of physical books remains semi-closed and regionalized.
Now let’s talk about the limitations of “traditional” eBooks. You might say, can’t eBooks overcome the above obstacles? To some extent, they can. But the main issue with existing eBooks is that readers are only purchasing accessibility, not ownership. The eBook you buy isn’t really yours, it belongs to the eBook vendor. If the eBook vendor ceases to exist one day, all your purchased eBooks will disappear. eBooks also require specific e-readers and cannot be lent out, indirectly obstructing the circulation of books. With books locked in the hands of suppliers, the situation is even more closed off than with physical books.
Whether it’s physical books or eBooks, within the “author-publisher-distributor-retailer-reader” chain, distribution and sales take a disproportionate share of the profits and wield a massive power to manipulate the market. The author’s income is minimal, publishers struggle, and reader’s choice is limited. We need a fairer mechanism for authors, publishers, and readers, and with today’s widespread internet technology, intermediaries for distribution and sales are no longer necessary. Without the costs of printing, transport, and storage, and with the added revenue from sales channels, the share of profits for authors and publishing collaborators (planners, editors, designers, promoters, technical support) increases. This is not only a significant support for creators, but also ensures the money readers spend is put to good use.
The so-called Web3 has no standard definition, but some of its elements are very suitable for understanding the NFT publishing model. 1. Decentralization: taking back control from market institutions (large chain bookstores and online platforms, eBook publishers, distributors). The role of bookstores (especially independent ones) doesn’t disappear, they can become partners, but they no longer hold a monopoly; 2. Peer-to-peer contact: authors and readers transact directly, and publishers serve to assist authors rather than acting as agents (ordinary NFTs can be minted using the DIY process provided by platforms, but books still rely on professional support from publishers to perfect the reading experience); 3. Community building: authors and readers establish direct contact, can form reading clubs to host follow-up events, or airdrop extra gifts, forming a tighter community.
NFT books differ from “traditional” eBooks in two major ways: 1. Readers can truly own the electronic text, and can access and read ePub or pdf files using any compatible software, without being restricted by specific e-readers and vendors; 2. NFT books are registered and certified on the blockchain, each one is original and a legitimate digital asset. The blockchain is a decentralized transaction system established through cryptography and consensus mechanisms, it is open, unalterable, resilient to attacks and interference. And NFT (non-fungible token) is an irreplaceable piece of metadata. NFT books are a composite form of embedding eBook files onto NFTs. Each NFT book recorded on the blockchain, although the content of the same work is identical, each version’s information is unique and cannot be duplicated, hence it possesses rarity value (for collection and resale). This is similar to traditional physical books, but NFTs are more durable, harder to damage and lose, and easier to disseminate than physical books.
Last but not least (forgive this cliché), is my expectation for blockchain and Web3. Decentralization, peer-to-peer, autonomy, bottom-up, consensus mechanisms, community governance, etc., these exciting concepts are not empty talk, but have been implemented by a group of creative and visionary individuals, making steady progress through trial and error. From Satoshi Nakamoto creating Bitcoin in 2009 to the establishment of Ethereum in 2015, using economic incentives to support the operation of digital communities, blockchain is a revolutionary invention. I firmly believe that this invention will pave a path to freedom and openness for a human society in crisis. Only by clearing the fog of speculation in cryptocurrencies and NFTs can we see the true face of blockchain, and the possibilities it brings us. Publishing NFT books is my vote for the future.