Promote originals. Allow reproductions. Eliminate piracy.

Initial thoughts on the decentralized publishing experiment III

On July 1st this year, I announced the publication plan for my new book Moneyverse: How money works in the multiverse and will experiment with a decentralized publishing approach, seeking a new paradigm together with readers, the industry and society as a whole.

After more than three months of exploration, with the help of designer Yanliang, editor Joanna and the curation of FAB DAO, the publishing plan is in full swing, and the new book is about to meet everyone.

Let me share the thoughts and production details of the project once again and play a game with you: before the official release, collect the three Writing NFTs of “Initial thoughts on the decentralized publishing experiment“, “Compilation NFT Book: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts” and this article, and you will be among the first to receive an airdropped Moneyverse NFT book.

Web3 or Convenience

NFT marketplaces have always faced a dilemma: whether to hold NFTs on behalf of users or to require users to manage their NFTs with their own wallets.

The dilemma arises because the two are mutually exclusive. Some NFT marketplaces make registration and login very simple and support credit card payments, but as of today, this is often because the NFTs are actually held by the platform on behalf of users. As a result, although the user experience is good, it loses the most important meaning of NFTs: ownership. Conversely, if you insist on users having a wallet first and even requiring cryptocurrency payments, you will narrow the target user base by at least 90%, losing a large number of potential buyers who are interested but unable to participate due to a lack of technical understanding.

Some solutions in the market claim to offer simple registration without sacrificing the essence of users owning their assets. I do not deny the significance of these solutions, but the devil is in the details. A closer look reveals that these solutions have not completely overcome the aforementioned dilemma but have rather exchanged certain elements to maintain simplicity while also allowing the use of web3, or at least “web2.5”.

I have hesitated on this issue in the past, especially in the early years, but as blockchain, LikeCoin, and today’s society have evolved to their current stage, I would clearly require users to manage their wallets autonomously, preferring to empower more people to learn the true meaning of owning assets rather than letting them indulge in convenience and “bag it first”. Especially if users, after getting used to it, are unwilling to learn further about managing wallets and are not aware of the cost of “semi-custody”, while mistakenly believing that they fully own their assets, it may be worse than never taking the first step.

Buy the book first, then claim the NFT

Although our stance is clear, in this decentralized publishing experiment, we have chosen not to require readers to set up a wallet in advance; they can purchase the NFT book with just an email address and a credit card.

At first glance, this might seem contradictory to above, but it is not.

From the beginning of the decentralized publishing experiment, I have defined the nature of the upcoming publication: an NFT book, not a book NFT. Its essence is a book, and its realization is in the form of an NFT. It is a book first, and then an NFT.

Considering that web3 and blockchain are not yet mature and widespread, the majority of potential readers do not have wallets. Since one of the main goals of this decentralized publishing experiment is to inject a batch of seed readers into the ecosystem, we have decided to make the purchase for Moneyverse a two-step process:

  1. Readers first purchase with a credit card, providing only an email address, and receive the ePub and PDF electronic files of Moneyverse.
  2. At the same time, readers will receive an instructional email on how to set up a cryptocurrency wallet. Once they follow the steps and notify us that the wallet has been set up, they will receive an airdropped Moneyverse NFT book. If there are any issues during the process, they will receive technical support from the community and me personally.

In other words, I am not willing to sacrifice the convenience of users buying and reading Moneyverse, nor am I willing to give up the true meaning of owning an NFT book.

Creative Commons: some rights reserved.

So, what is the true meaning of owning an NFT book?

Those who understand NFTs know that their essence is a certificate; owning an NFT often focuses not on the access of the content itself. Applied to the context of NFT books, this NFT is a certificate proving that you own an original, signed copy of Moneyverse. Of course, I’m not signing these original books with a pen or an Apple Pencil, but with my private key using cryptography for a truly authentic signature.

In Cantonese, “pirated” is called “老翻,” colloquially known as “reprint”. Reprinting is regarded “stealing”, which is the general understanding in the traditional world. We often see the (c) symbol in copyright statements, followed by the text “All rights reserved. What exactly does “All” include? Can I read it? Can I throw it away? Those who declare sovereignty always like to exaggerate, as if anything in the world must first ask for their permission.

Obviously, this style does not fit the philosophy of the Moneyverse publishing team. We pursue open access of information and knowledge, and the team is not worried about content being reprinted but about the poor having access to less information and knowledge than the rich. The most valuable aspect of NFTs is that you can own content without hindering its circulation. Moneyverse is licensed in CC-BY, so that reproduction is allowed as long as attribution is provided.

Yes, when you buy Moneyverse and get the ePub and PDF, feel free to forward it to friends and let more people gain related knowledge. Unlike the typical meaning of “reprint” in Cantonese, “reprint” is not “piracy” and is not illegal.

However, although a reprint is not a pirated copy, it is not an original either. Only when you own the NFT of Moneyverse is your ePub and PDF an original. Buying an original copy is a virtue, a responsibility that capable readers should bear, representing support for the author and respect for knowledge, journalism and creativity.

Reprints are for dissemination, originals are for support. While spreading the word, don’t forget to encourage others to buy original copies, letting good intentions pay it forward.

Encourage originals. Allow reprints. Eliminate piracy – this is the core concept of the decentralized publishing experiment for Moneyverse: How money works in the multiverse“.

Extended reading

  1. 《小王子的領悟》番外篇.擁有
  2. 怎麼去擁有一道彩虹?與五月天聊 NFT
  3. The future of DePub – from NFT immigrants to NFT natives
  4. Initial thoughts on the decentralized publishing experiment
  5. Compilation NFT Book: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts
  6. 黃豆泥:回應高重建〈無大台出版實驗的初步構想〉
  7. Cover photo: Midjourney imagining “Moneyverse, how money works in the multiverse book”

My articles are not put behind a paywall and are all open for reading. If you like this article, please collect its Writing NFT to support writing and preserve journalism.


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