Interviews

Charles Miller

How to publish your book with blockchain and crypto

Sukhi Jutla is a London-based entrepreneur with an exhausting list of activities and achievements to her name: co-founder of a platform for gold and diamond trading, writer and public speaker, winner of various awards for entrepreneurship and a qualified IBM Blockchain Foundation Developer.

The list goes on. And she added an intriguing new one last year: “in April 2018 I became the first author in the world to publish my book on the blockchain”.

Here’s how it happened.

A non-profit called the Alliance for Independent Authors wanted to discover how writers could leverage blockchain technology. Its founder, Orna Ross, contacted Sukhi having read her contribution to The Fintech Book.

At Orna’s request, Sukhi wrote a White Paper called Blockchain for Books, which grew into what she calls “a 10,000 word manifesto” for creating “an author-centric business model”. In the model, “all the payments and royalties are going directly to the author, and so we are essentially putting the publisher, who is the intermediary, out of business”.

At the time, Sukhi was about to publish a book called Escape the Cubicle, which “charted my journey, of how I escaped the corporate nine to five cubicle to launch my own business”.

As part of her blockchain research, she’d come across Publica, a Latvian-based publishing company which wanted to offer writers the chance to publish using blockchain and cryptocurrency. For the writer, it’s not a complicated process, and Sukhi says she began to realise that “this technology can be adapted by just normal regular people”.

So Escape the Cubicle became a Publica publication. As Sukhi explains, technically, the book isn’t actually “on the blockchain”, but blockchain provides access to it, the customer pays in crypto and the writer has “complete control”:

Blockchain publishing overcomes the problem, often discussed, that when you ‘buy’ an ebook, you don’t own it in the normal sense because you’re only buying a licence to access it. You can’t even download it onto your computer. With blockchain publication, your purchasing contract creates the possibility of reselling, as Sukhi explains:

For Sukhi, blockchain publication isn’t only about getting a better deal for writers – though it is that! It’s also about opening up the possibilities for distributing books more widely through the world and perhaps shaking up the market of academic publishing too:

In a future post, we’ll be trying out Publica, to see just how easy (or otherwise) it is to buy Sukhi Jutla’s book on the blockchain.

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