Could blockchain technology play a role in the publishing industry?

As more and more people switch to buying digital books, blockchain in publishing could help authors and publishers to benefit more from their content creation

A number of blockchain projects are now aiming to use decentralisation to help small publishers and self-published authors compete with industry giants. From introducing blockchain-powered content distribution platforms to implementing rights distribution on the network, blockchain in publishing could change the marketplace for good.

This new technology could mark the beginning of a new era in publishing and create new rules for how profits are shared.

Smart contracts for instant payments

In 2017, the US book publishing industry registered revenues of $26.23 billion from publisher sales. This was a decline from the previous year, although it marked an important milestone in the industry. Online retail channels equalled their brick-and-mortar rivals (in financial terms) and were ready to surpass them.

As the publishing industry has become increasingly digital, there’s a need for a new system for buying books and magazines. One that is more transparent and allows readers to pay for what they want.

Blockchain in publishing could help authors and artists in this industry earn more from their work. It would reduce the need for third parties and mediators between content providers and end users.

Smart contracts on blockchains could create a safe working environment for authors and artists that contribute to the publishing industry.

Writers, photographers, and editors could all benefit from smart contracts programmed to release payment every time publishers accept content.

Not only would the automatic system reduce payment processing times, but it would also make accounting easier for all parties involved in a transaction.

The networks could also allow for tracking every contract payment. This would create a complete publishing history for every author, as well as publishing houses and magazines.

Better content distribution platforms

The retail book industry has changed significantly in the past decade. With more brick-and-mortar book retailers retiring from the market, readers have switched to buying books and e-books online. However, the limited number of vendors who control prices and distribution makes it difficult for authors to manage their publishing businesses.

Blockchain in publishing could allow for content distribution platforms that place more weight on end users and their needs. It would allow readers to decide how they want to consume content and pay for it. This would make it easier for publishers to charge for individual pieces of content.

Readers wouldn’t have to pay the monthly (or yearly) subscription to read a limited number of articles. At the same time, blockchain in publishing could give users easy access to more books and magazines and more freedom to choose where their money goes and which authors to award for their work.

Platforms like or Authorship are aiming to disrupt the publishing industry by redesigning the relationships between authors, publishers, translators, and other professionals that contribute to creating books and magazines.

Blockchain in publishing benefits small companies and self-published authors. And at the same time, it could also greatly effect giants like Amazon that dominate the market.

More independence for self-publishers

Self-publishing is a way for authors to distribute their work without a traditional book publisher that controls copyright and distribution. Popular among indie authors in the past, self-publishing is currently an attractive alternative for famous authors as well.

Amazon controls this market as well. Authors continue to depend on a third party to distribute their content, even if they skip the traditional intermediaries. Moreover, the e-commerce giant takes just as much money as the average publisher – around 30 to 40% of the revenues!

Blockchain in publishing could be the beginning of what is known as self-publishing 3.0, which enables content monetisation and micropayments.

Decentralised networks would give authors the possibility of managing licensing and copyright while distributing e-books through blockchain-based platforms. They could keep more than 70% of the revenues and create networks outside of Amazon and its rating system.

Effective tools to counter plagiarism and fraud

Blockchain technology can certify ownership of a piece of content. This means the author can prove that he or she is the source of the content and has the right to benefit from all sales. With a decentralised network in place, there is no need for a central authority to control the process.

Blockchain could also prevent plagiarism. No matter how many users read or share an e-book, you would still be able to track it back to the author. Any new content that uses an e-book as a reference would automatically connect the reader to the person who owns the original piece.

CERTO, for instance, is a blockchain-based project that uses this technology to verify the content origin of digital assets. Once the author registers the document on the blockchain, the CERTO app provides them with a certificate of authenticity. In time, this model could become a way of preventing forgeries and copyright violations.

Blockchain in publishing could start a revolution

The industry has seen an increased number of start-ups using blockchain technology to build platforms and tools that permit sharing content. Authors, publishers, and readers can easily read, write, publish, sell, and buy e-books in a secure environment.

Every author has the right to be the only owner of the content he or she has created and be rewarded for their work. Blockchain can increase transparency in the industry and streamline publishing processes, with greater benefits for authors and end users.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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