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Why Books Are a Good Use Case For NFTs

If Audible gave us NFTs instead of traditional receipts…

  1. Readers could resell their books.
  2. Publishers would earn commission from book sales between readers (it could also be a good way to build a community). I believe 5% to 10% is the range for commission on secondary sales with NFTs today.
  3. Authors would benefit from additional commission — provided they negotiated “secondary sales” as part of their contract. Their commission would come out of the commission earned by publishers.
  4. Industry could automatically rate books based on initial sales and secondary sales. Secondary sales alone, could provide the world with a permanent record for “Bestsellers of all time”.

When NFTs are used instead of traditional receipts, the transfer of ownership and all related payments are automatically triggered with a smart contract, and all relevant metadata contained in the NFT is also automatically updated.

My definition of an NFT

TLDR; an NFT is a new kind of digital receipt

An NFT could also be described as a machine-readable receipt (or a packing list, packing slip, packaging slip, delivery docket, shipping list, delivery list, bill of sale, bill of the parcel, manifest). It’s a machine-readable document that stores metadata on the blockchain, acknowledging that a person or entity has received money or property in payment following a sale or other transfer of goods or provision of a service. While traditional receipts are static records that can’t be changed, NFTs are automatically updated following a resale or other new transfer of goods or reprovision of a service.

  • Every NFT must have a unique resource identifier (URI) that can be automatically interrogated by software so they can be verified/authenticated. Otherwise they’re useless.
  • Some people talk about buying and selling NFTs, but you can’t buy an NFT any more than you can buy a receipt.

I believe an NFT could also be described as a “persistent machine-readable receipt on the blockchain, with fields that automatically update following a resale or other new transfer of goods or reprovision of a service.”

NFTs seem to be very similar to the concept of “Content Labels” — minus the blockchain. In 2004, I co-founded the standard for URL Classification & Content Labeling at the W3C — the standards body for the World Wide Web. In 2007, I wrote a blog post that explains what Content Labels are — machine-readable files that contain assertions about a resource or group of resources in the form of metadata.

More recently in 2010, Tim Berners-Lee used the same example as me during his keynote at the Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 conference — check out his video on YouTube because it’s short and concise “Open, Linked Data for a Global Community”.

Whenever someone buys something in Wubud, a new virtual country I’m helping to build in the metaverse, they will be issue a receipt in the form of an NFT (they won’t buy or sell NFTs).



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Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh


MetaCert CEO. Passionate about Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Crypto, Snowboarding & Red Wine. Part of the AOL team that launched AIM. Co-founded 2 W3C Standards.