The Future Self Publisher

At the moment, Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) dominates the eBook publishing landscape like a tyrannical despot. They control over 70% of the eBook market, and punish you (via KDP Select) if you list your book on some other platform. They charge a premium for you to market and advertise on their platform – a spend of $100 will barely get you one sale, and if you get a sale, they’ll pay you a fraction of that sale depending on how many pages are read. 

That’s it for authors. If you’re not on Amazon, you’re wasting your time.

A few years ago, hope of a better system appeared in the form of blockchain technology. As Bitcoin made inroads into commerce a few avenues appeared for authors. Most were buy and sell services offering sales for products in exchange for Bitcoins. Looking back at all my accounts most are now all extinct, being the most notable one. (I received a small tip from there once, that’s now worth $500) But nothing since has been developed that could be useful for authors.

Until now.

This ICO revolution powered by Etherium has for the first time since the Amazon Revolution in the 90’s offered writers and reader a possible new paradigm for not only books, but for music and films as well. Decentralisation is key. Screw the middle man. Self publishing is about bypassing the traditional publishers and connecting with reader directly. Yet Amazon is the behemoth Third Party Entity on the web that no author, established or not, can circumvent. 

Decentralisation = Hope.

I won’t go into the technical details of how Ethereum and contracts work, I’m still learning the process, but I will list a few application that I’ve come across that seem promising if they actually deliver on what they say they can.


First up, Authorship. This ICO is (at time of writing) currently offered. Based on the Ethereum platform 

“Authorship is one such decentralized platform that aims to redefine the world of books by connecting authors, translators, publishers and readers on a single platform.”

They will be issuing tokens described as …

 Authorship Token. The ATS, an ERC-20 token based on the Ethereum technology, is a unit of exchange on a new Blockchain based book publishing system. Authors, publishers and translators are rewarded with ATS tokens in exchange to book sales, while readers are able to spend ATS tokens in order to purchase books. 

The flow chart is a little complex, but from what I understand it still involves traditional publishing platforms. Without some kind of application or prototype to use it’s hard to tell how useful or effective this could be.


Next up is Publica, it’s ICO is in a month or so. They are a little clearer on what kind of model they want to establish and their flow chart is a tiny bit less converluted. 

Publica describes itself as..

a platform for authors, readers, books of all kinds and the people who make them. And for smart contracts to carry all kinds of transactions and exchanges for the publishing economy.

As for token Publica will be using their own cryptocurrency.

 Publica-the-country has no national debt. It exports more products and services than it imports. It doesn't print new money. In an economist's terms, its money supply is fixed and therefore stable for the long run. Within its borders, Publica's internal money is a token called PBL.


Again, without a working model it’s difficult to tell how this will work.

There’s  – a shared, universal ledger designed to track ownership and attribution for the world's digital creative assets. 

 They have a testnet online so I’ve been playing around with it. Still no way of telling how this can be useful.

One app that has caught my eye is Musicoin. Even though a music portal, this model and format if used for an ebook, is potentially an author’s dream distribution network. What Musicoin lacks, however, is the ability for promotion. If they can introduce a way to allow an artist to offer incentives for consumers to sample their work, this kind of business model could take off, astronomically.

For established authors, an ebook model similar to Musicoin could free them from third parties altogether. For new authors, a decentralised/crypto portal where writers can promote themselves by offering incentives for readers to sample their work, who can use the tokens to then go and buy full works, this could be the catalyst that ends Amazon’s reign of terror. 

In the 1990’s freeware had revolutionised marketing for software creators, and free betas are used today to test and market games and so on. As a writer, something like a eBook version of Musicoin, that allows for incentives for sampling content, can be a game changer, far greater than the Print on Demand concept from over a decade ago.

If there are new decentralised publishing models out there, I would be certainly interested in road testing them.

Supernations, Mega City-States and Virtual Countries

Writing science fiction gives an author the opportunity to have a go at predicting the future. For me, the best tool I always find helpful is this; in order to build a world in which to set the novel, you start by going back into history. ‘To see the future, one must look into the past’ and follow the trends. In the case of ‘A Hostile Takeover,’ I began by asking ‘What is a nation? A state? A country?’ and then went on to research different types of sovereign nations throughout history.

I followed the trends and discovered the future of the world’s political landscape is obvious and surprising. The one prediction that seems most definite among all the others is that the nation-states we live in today are not static, rigid institutions, but evolving, changing political creatures.

Continue reading “Supernations, Mega City-States and Virtual Countries”


Halfway through 2011, I came across the phenomenon of Bitcoin, and my head went into a tailspin. This was a revolution. I felt it in my bones. But I was reluctant to buy in and profit from it. At the time, it had the aura of an elaborate, hi-tech scam.  The ultimate in electronic pyramid schemes. And the amount of hacking going on against the Bitcoin exchanges (run from servers in people’s garages) didn’t help things either. I felt it was never intended as an alternative currency. Who in their right mind would trade commodities online or shop with them?

Sure, it (kind of) bypassed third parties and fees,  and it seemed easy to use. But once you send off a bitcoin to some address that is it. It’s irreversible. There is no redress. Online fraud using bitcoins leaves no paper trail to physically follow. Although there is an electronic trail, how does one place trust in such a new system?

Hector the Toad: “You want to give me the bitcoins, or do I kill your brother first, before I kill you?”
Tony Montana: “This focking blockchain is 1.5 focking gigabytes. So why don’t you try sticking your head up your ass? See if it fits.”
Hector the Toad: “Okay, Caracicatriz. You can die too. It makes no difference to me.”

Even drug dealers would be hesitant to use this nascent technology. Imagine Tony Montana rocking up to a meeting with the Colombians with a laptop.

Then imagine him having to wait for the transactions to be confirmed. Chain saws. Fun and games. Even gangsters rely on strong banking institutions to keep their wealth safe. And even then these same institutions are prone to nationalisation, or bankruptcy.

This technology has yet to find a proper use, yet punters poured millions of dollars into the “early adopters” pockets. Go to their forums and you’ll find rampant spruiking and fever-pitch excitement each time some Gordon Gekko forks out money to buy these things. Try being negative on these forums and they ignore you, or you get labelled a troll.

Gordon Gekko

This is the mindset I used not to go diving in.

  • If it feels like a scam or Ponzi racket. It probably is. Why? Because the market is a mechanism for people to store value and generate income. In theory anyway. Speculators using the market as the ultimate roulette table may in fact be a healthy thing for a market, guiding investors to where to park their capital. Bitcoins don’t have intrinsic value. They don’t earn anything, and by the time they become useful in the mainstream economy as a currency, the game will have changed. Traded solely for profiteering on people’s greed and fear, nothing influences the value of Bitcoin except speculation (and hackers). At best, this is a form of gambling. Add early adopters to the mix, and you get the perfect pyramid scheme. So if it’s too good to be true, it is.
  • Bitcoin is also a technology that can be easily duplicated. It can be modified and developed, rendering the original blockchain, redundant.
  • Power rests with those who control the client software protocol. So you’re in fact swapping Bankers for Programmers.
  • Hackers. The digital wallets where the value is stored are so easy to lose, destroy or steal. One lapse of personal electronic security and your wallet is gone. One hard drive failure, one catastrophic digital error (i.e. caused by an index finger on the return key) and the bitcoins are gone.

On the plus side.

  • Bitcoins are a good way for kids to learn about trading on the market.
  • The potential for investment in new technology. Potential, since, apart from the exchanges popping up everywhere, there has not been significant investment in anything else. I’d rather invest in a start-up that is actually building a way to make cryptonium useful than speculate on the gambling habits of other speculators.

That was then. The case remains the same today. I see nothing has changed.

The current problem we have with fiat money is hoarding. Existing in a dual state, as a medium of exchange as well as a store of value, fiat currencies are vulnerable to hoarding, which starves the lifeblood out of economies. (which is another story.) Yet fiats are trusted by citizens (or forced upon them, since governments don’t give anyone much of a choice) and are at least designed to “stabilise” economies, Keynesian style. What are bitcoins designed to do? They are perfect for hoarding! They are easier to hoard than fiat cash or gold. At best, P2P crypto-currencies are designed to rob governments of their ability to collect taxes, so no hospitals, roads, and God forbid, no social security. Perhaps governments will find a way to get the early adopters will pay for such things. Fiat currencies are also backed by governments, by law or by force. What will back bitcoins when early adopters decide to cash in, flood the bitcoin casinos and send those Gekko’s screaming for the door? As long as Bitcoins remain deflationary they will be hoarded more zealously than gold or government bonds.

The Future of Cryptocurrency

Right now it’s all about fooling enough punters to part with their fiat cash so it can be redistributed to some other punter. In the future, the technology behind these crypto-currencies will eventually find a way to complement society. Key factor. The technology can be duplicated. e.g. Litecoin, Namecoin, Ixcoin. ppcoin. All corporations have to do is start their own blockchains. e.g. Google Money. Facecoin. Retailers could convert their own rewards and loyalty programs into tailor-made cryptocurrencies. Music and movie corporations could use the same peer-to-peer technology that nearly wiped them out, to create a system of distribution using cryptocurrencies. Sonycoin. Applecash, AmazonDollars. Hell, even governments could start their own bond market and social security blockchain. UScoin, Auscoin. Eurocoin.


In fact, there is no doubt in my mind this will happen. It may be too late to profit from Bitcoin right now, (since I missed out on buying them at 5 cents), but expecting Bitcoin’s value to hit a million dollars per unit is tuliptistic. Once cryptonium currencies enter the mainstream economy in numerous manifestations this whole argument will become trivial. And even then, once quantum computing hits the scene, everything we understand today will become anecdotal. Unless cryptographic hash functions become so large and complex, they start grinding down machines running at light speed, since the speed of light is indeed finite and numbers are… well, infinite.

But that’s also another story.