Why books?

Publica aims to improve publishing for the blockchain revolution. This is an excerpt from a Q&A with CEO Josef Marc.

Photo Lisa Padilla https://www.flickr.com/photos/lisap/2860772696/

Q: Of all the blockchain-related things that Publica might address, why books?

A: Tokens mean books and books mean tokens. Sounds trite but it’s actually why we’re addressing books first.

Who owns a book or ebook over its lifetime? Look up “First-sale doctrine” and you’ll see it’s complicated, too complicated for this stage of the blockchain revolution. Amazon dealt with it back in the beginning of the Internet revolution and we’ll deal with it for today’s blockchain revolution.

Here’s our starting point. Technically, tokens are applicable to any bearer asset. Whoever holds the token and its keys can count on it as an asset that they own.

[Here’s a good explanation of what “bearer asset” means in the blockchain era] https://shaunhoyes.com/2016/03/06/bearer-assets-on-the-blockchain/

Other examples today could include bank balances, digital wallet balances, ID cards, gambling chips and so on. They’re already popular in blockchains.

But I’m happy to refer to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, recorded at Business Insider 2014. “The Internet is perfect for delivering three paragraphs to a phone.” Bezos elaborated, “Make the friction less.”

In my view, Amazon nailed that for the Internet, and Publica is simply taking the friction-reduction idea to the rest of the publishing economy for the blockchain revolution. Not just ebooks, the whole publishing economy and everyone who works in it. Readers too.

Image from Publica’s white paper http://publica.io/whitepaper.pdf

Q: But why books instead of bank balances, ID cards or gambling chips?

A: Books are real, understandable by everyone, enduring, and valuable objects. They’re becoming mostly digital but more importantly, they’re 100% global, cross-border, and critical to humanity’s welfare and progress. Publishing is a global economy. And I would add, books are future-proof.

Q: Future-proof?

A: Blockchains are, so far as we know, eternal, but that’s not the #1 reason. Personally, I’m enthused by instantaneous machine-driven translation. Software translates what I read, as I read it. I speak a few languages so I software-translate to whatever language, and vice versa, for personal reasons. My money goes to the author, always. If there was a paid translator in the history of the book I’m reading, they got paid at the time they rendered their services. My choices about instantaneous machine-driven translation are mine and mine alone to make.

That’s a future I’m happy to live in, and Publica takes it for granted because we can make it happen.

Q: Why not all kinds of bearer assets including gambling chips, bank balances, ID cards?

A: I refer again to Jeff Bezos. “Start with the narrowest possible focus.” Amazon’s first annual report (20 years ago) mentioned books and no other goods. I would add, today, that evolution happens. Bezos also quoted one of my favorite insights attributed to Barry Diller (QVC), “One foot in front of the other.” Bezos elaborated, “We just take our skill set to a new set of customers” referring to the success of Amazon Web Services.

I think that’s all that Publica is doing, and will do, for the blockchain revolution. We’ll see where it leads!