In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the first $100 sale of an ebook NFT by an indie author.
In this month’s self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I look in depth at what the partnership between Spotify and Storytel means for the future of reading and writing, and examine new platforms that allow authors to engage with readers more closely. And this comes as ALLi launches a book on podcasting for indie authors which you can read about and order here.
Ebook NFT Sells for $100 on BooksGoSocial
Without a doubt the hype story of the year has been the non-fungible token (NFT). As I’ve reported before, NFTs are a blockchain technology that allow creators to sell “guaranteed ownership” of digital first editions of their digital art. Most notably the electronic artist Beelpe sold an NFT for $69m. This is a highly controversial technology, as you might expect. On the one hand, there are claims of bubbles and emperors lacking attire. What do you expect when you combine the worlds of high art and blockchain?!
Steps to Tackle NFT Issues
On the other hand, there is deep concern about the environmental impact of blockchain technology as a whole. Bitcoin alone is responsible for the equivalent carbon emissions to Argentina. Mostly, NFTs run on the Ethereum blockchain, a major polluter. Ethereum is also notoriously slow. And that means creators often have to pay large up front sums in what’s called “gas” to get their NFTs verified and ready for sale.
This is, of course, a technology that is bound to appeal to many writers. And among the writing community, it is bound to appeal in particular to indies who want to explore new technology. BooksGoSocial has led the way in providing a platform for indie authors to make special editions of their works available as NFTs. They have addressed the environmental issues by using Wax as their blockchain platform. This means NFTs are certified carbon neutral. And they have just celebrated their first $100 NFT sale. The book in question is Caitlin Lynagh's Quantum Messenger. Huge congratulations to Caitlin, and to BooksGoSocial for at least partially proving the concept!
Jane Friedman is always worth reading. And this week she made some very important points about the copyright problems around NFTs. The main takeaway is simple. Don't assume that laws drawn up for very different methods of consuming culture will do what you expect them to do in an entirely new context. I recommend you also (especially if you are in the US) read Passive Guy's comments. He is a copyright lawyer by day job after all.
UK Call for a Gadget Tax to Compensate Creatives for Digital Piracy
A lot of indies, along with other authors, worry about digital piracy. Whether it's people sharing ebooks directly, dodgy pdf download sites, or the practices of the Open Library, there has been campaign after campaign based on the supposition that digital piracy causes lost revenue. Now creators in the UK have launched a campaign for a highly novel way to try and address the issue. They propose a “gadget levy”. A tax of 1 to 3% on the sales value of all technology would have the capacity for downloads would create a “Smart Fund” of £300m to pay creators and address the problem.
Creatives across disciplines are backing the scheme. Heading up authors' voices is Joanna Harris, Chair of the Society of Authors. I have several worries about such an idea. Those that focus on the realities of the book world include wondering about administration. I would not expect indie writers to be near the top of the list. And £300m across all creative industries can become a very small pie by the time we call for our slice. And the focus on downloads is out of touch. I understand we think of piracy as downloaded pdfs. But we really are moving from a download to a streaming culture, and I can see any attempted legislation getting stuck in a quagmire about what a decide that can download material might be.
Amazon: Authorities Investigate Handling of Fake Reviews and New Possibilities on Kindle Vella
I wrote last week about the scale of Amazon’s fake review problem. In the last year alone, they removed 200 million reviews before they reached the site. But that, it seems, is not enough to keep everyone happy. (And that’s before we get into whether it’s actually too blunt an approach that’s removing many of the real reviews on which we rely.
In the UK, the Competitions and Marketing Authority is investigating both Amazon and Google for their handling of reviews. In particular, they are looking at whether the companies are doing enough to punish or suspend sellers who infringe reviewing policies, and whether they’re doing enough to detect incentivised reviews. Both of these avenues of investigation will raise alarm bells. We all know someone whose account has been suspended for suspect activity already. And we know how hard it is to get reinstated. It really feels as though Amazon is trigger happy about removing reviews, and we regularly use terms like “purge” of their practices. So if things are going to get more sensitive, that might cause us all some anxiety.
On a more positive note for Amazon, they have added new features to the recently-released Kindle Vella programme. Monica Leonelle has some great lowdown on the new guidelines. Thanks also to our own Sacha Black for the tip off. The big change is the possibility of bundling. Kindle Vella allows you to sell serial works in easy to digest instalments. It’s now possible, once the last instalment has been out there for 30 days, to bundle 10 chunks together into an ebook and sell it as such. This would add real flexibility to marketing strategy.An NFT of an ebook by an indie author sells for $100 and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers' conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.
Comic Con, 22-25 Jul