Publica is "a publisher for the blockchain era" - but will authors bite?

Publica is "a publisher for the blockchain era" - but will authors bite?

Publica wants to bring authors all the readers and profits the open web can offer - but will they be bold enough to embrace blockchain?

The pitch

Publica is an online platform that aims to be the first truly decentralised publisher, by using blockchain technology to enable direct transactions between authors and readers. Publica enables any author, publisher, bookstore, book reader, institution, individual or business to use its own private digital keys to sell, buy, trade, lend, or give digital books, or print them locally as paper books. Every book is its own ICO (token launch) so authors can run their own business models, including crowdfunding.

"Authors want to reach new readers and keep more of the money when they do, selling everywhere the Internet can reach, without signing over their rights," explains c.e.o. Josef Marc. "Publica is a publisher for the blockchain era."

The team

Marc comes from a background working for TV and film technology companies and projects including Sony, DirecTV, Verizon and CBS Olympics. 40 years ago he started a music company to self-publish his band in the USA before being signed by a record label and major producer in the U.K. Most recently he "worked a decade of odd jobs in publishing books, the unsung jobs that teach how bestselling books really get made and marketed."

C.o.o Antons Sapriko is also c.e.o. of Scandiweb, a digital agency with clients including The New York Times, Walmart and Jaguar. Scandiweb provides the technical expertise in Publica and Sapriko is in charge of Publica's daily operations.

Finally, c.t.o. Yuri Pimenov is a data scientist and an early pioneer in blockchain technology.

What's the gap in the market?

"Established channels monetize as well as they can within their business models, but have to take a lion's share of revenue to do so," Marc explains. "What are an author's choices between free e-books and established publishers?" 

Publica aims to fill that gap with what the Alliance For Independent Authors has dubbed an 'author-centric money model.' "We let authors define their own business model. We make their landing page explaining it. We make their author's profile page to sell their books. Publica's own community, called The Publicans, are an avid volunteer army to get the word out. When buyers and readers click "Buy Now" it's a real purchase of the ebook, the buyer's money straight to the author's wallet in minutes, from anyone in the world to the author anywhere in the world."

Success so far?

Publica was fully funded in a crowdsale event last November. So far the platform boasts 10,000 Twitter followers, 1,800 Reddit readers, and 2,000 Publicans in its Telegram channel. "A dozen noteworthy authors" are due to be announced soon - in the meantime, the team is focusing on refining the author user experience of the site. Marc reports that they are already operating ahead of schedule and facing unanticipated levels of demand.

Biggest challenges?

The dreaded b-word.& "Publica isn't Amazon, Kobo, Kickstarter, Smashwords, HarperCollins, or anything you've seen before. We have to explain this to authors and readers. It has elements in common but the differences matter a lot." 

Ultimate ambition?

At the centre of Publica is a hunger to bring authors the readers and monetization that the internet seemed to promise - but that hasn't yet really transpired. 

"That means more and more discoverability - no reader or wholesale buyer has to sign into our walled garden in order to find or buy the books from the authors they like," Marc says. "That means providing support for an author's other distribution channels, including paper books, acting as their gateway to virtual currencies like Bitcoin (although you can buy the books with any currency.) That means making open source e-reader or wallet apps that buy and read books. Eventually, it means support for the derivative products that come from books like movie scripts, games and merchandise."

Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?

Listen to authors. They know what they want and they're articulate. After all, they write books! I'm inspired by Joanna Penn, Ryan Holiday, Orna Ross, Joel Friedlander, and newcomer Sukhi Jutla because she wrote that her goal is to earn a six-figure income from her books. That's our goal for her too. And don't try to control authors or push them to what works for your business model. You work for them, not the other way round.