Book.io CEO Josh Stone is a publishing startup veteran. He started BookShout in 2012 and ran it for two years before selling the company to an investor. He then created an online learning platform on behalf of two authors. Then, in 2017, Stone began to delve deeper into blockchain and cryptocurrencies, leading to this new venture, which he launched in 2022 — originally as Book Token — with co-founder Ben Illian (who also worked alongside him at BookShout).
Book.io describes itself as “an NFT marketplace for buying, reading, and selling e-books and audiobooks” (although, so far, it has only published e-books). Blockchain infrastructure offers a wide range of benefits to authors (and by extension publishers), book buyers and, to a lesser extent, readers. Authors can create new revenue streams through limited-edition NFTs and earning a percentage of revenue when their digital work is resold. Blockchain also offers unique ways to create communities of readers.
Authors and publishers can take advantage of Book.io’s unique “decentralized encrypted assets”, which create an essentially unbreakable style of DRM. The company is also launching “$BOOK tokens,” a unique cryptocurrency that is earned by readers based solely on the amount read, a way to incentivize readers to become more involved with authors and their work.
Ingram Content Group President John Ingram was a member of BookShout’s board of directors, and that connection ultimately led to the company’s investment in this new startup, which is among more than 1.6 million dollars that Book.io has raised. Ingram’s investment is tied, in part, to another unique Book.io feature called Mint & Print, a print-on-demand service for digital books purchased on Book.io and delivered through the vast infrastructure. Ingram International. Commenting on the investment, Ingram Content Group President and CEO Shawn Morin said Books.io “naturally aligns with the global reach of our business and our mission to provide the infrastructure and services needed to help content reach its destination, from content creators to consumers.”
Book.io has already published (or rather “created” in the jargon of the NFT world) 12 titles, and all of them have sold out, some in as little as 11 seconds. First, a replica of the Gutenberg Bible. It was, Stone explains, “a tribute to Gutenberg: something monumental to begin with – over 800,000 words – with 70 high-resolution images. Each blanket was unique. It was released in mid-July, at an initial price of 180 ADA (the native currency of the Cardano blockchain, currently trading at around 37¢ each); 1,600 copies were sold. “On day one, we generated $110,000 in sales in 12 hours,” Stone said, adding that the business was already profitable.
The Gutenberg was followed by what Stone calls the “monster series”, including titles like Mary Shelley. Frankenstein (49 ADA) and Robert Louis Stevenson The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (39 ADA). After the monsters meditations by Marcus Aurelius, published on October 8, was priced at 100 ADA in an edition of 400 copies. These are now available on Jpg.store, which advertises itself as “the largest Cardano NFT marketplace”, at prices ranging from 400 ADA to over 100,000 ADA. Copy #17 was resold twice, the last time for 1,200 ADA, or over $500.
To better understand how it works, let’s follow the path of an author on Book.io. Gina Azzi has written 27 romance novels in a specialized category, “sports romance.” His next publication on Book.io is titled The Hot Shot Mistake: A Workplace Hockey Story, the first in his Tennessee Thunderbolts Hockey Romance series. The Book.io version of The Hot Shot error will contain the exact same text as the Kindle edition, but it will feature 10 different AI-generated covers, each, Azzi pointed out, “illustrating a different point in the book that has special emotional significance.” The book will be struck on October 24, in an edition of 3,000 copies. The price will be around 25 ADA.
Now let’s follow the book buyer’s journey on Book.io. To purchase a digital book, a consumer must first convert a few dollars to Cardano blockchain ADA. Cardano is an alternative to Bitcoin and Ethereum, and like those currencies, its value has recently plummeted, dropping more than 80% in the past year, from nearly 25% in the last month. It adds an exciting element to the book buying equation. To buy ADA, a person must sign up with a cryptocurrency exchange as well as a “lightweight” wallet provider that connects to something called dApps. Once done, users can purchase a book from Book.io.
Stone said he’s committed to simplifying the process for book buyers until he reaches a point where, as he says, his mother can buy and read a book on the company’s digital platform. ‘company. Although he still has some way to go to get his mother on board, the company’s technical mastery inspires confidence that the goal can be achieved.
Azzi is excited as she prepares for the launch of her first book. “I think it’s going to become a lot more mainstream,” she said. “It may sound scary. But Book.io does a great job of connecting where we are now and where things are headed.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 10/17/2022 issue of Weekly editors under the title: Ingram Backs Book.io