1. I heard that blockchain and NFTs are bad for the environment!?

Blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin depend on computers doing calculations, and if these computers use coal or other carbon intensive fuels then it is definitely a problem.
Every blockchain is different. Chainreads uses Algorand to create NFTs and pay authors. Algorand is low-carbon as it doesn’t require computers to do intensive calculations to process transactions. Algorand is officially carbon negative (due to purchasing credits), but even without the artificial efficiency created by carbon credits, Algorand is thousands of times more efficient than Etherium. We’ve purposely chosen Algorand due to its low-carbon nature. It’s certainly not any worse than VISA or other traditional transaction networks. For more on this, please read the whitepaper.

2. Aren’t NFTs a fad?

They can be a fad. It doesn’t make sense for someone to pay thousands of dollars for pixelated images – it brings back memories of Beannie Babies. But if we look beyond the hype, there are practical real-world use cases.
Chainreads focuses on proof-of-license as its use case for NFTs.
In the traditional physical book business, having the physical book is considered proof that you have the right to read and use that book within the allowances set out by copyright law. Someone can gift or sell a book to someone else (or sell it to a used book store) and there’s little risk of piracy (people don’t tend to photocopy books).
With ebooks, a digital book isn’t physical, and so it doesn’t store any proof of license within itself, and can be easily pirated.
An NFT provides the proof of license. It is a unique token that represents the right of the NFT holder – it indicates that they didn’t pirate the book. When the NFT is transferred to someone else, the rights go with it.
This is revolutionary in terms of the interaction between digital files, authors, publishers, and copyright. It means that the copyright is always respected thoughout the life of a digital work.

3. But NFTs don’t stop piracy!

It’s true. Proof of license is about respecting copyright and enabling copyright to be respected in the digital realm. An NFT is not copy protection – but that is OK because there has never been a copy protection scheme that hasn’t been circumvented. The key is that we make it convenient to respect copyright and encourage people to do so.

4. So how long does it take to get paid?

Currently we are operating on a weekly schedule. This is done so that we can reduce ‘gas fees’ on blockchain transactions by doing weekly batches. It actually only takes about 6 seconds for a payment to be sent from Chainreads to an author’s wallet, once it is initiated.
Compare a weekly schedule to the 30-60 days that self-publishing via Amazon (fox example) makes authors to wait.

5. How much do you take from the authors?

Currently we retain 15% of all sales to cover our expenses. This means authors get 85%, which is much better than the ‘big boys’ who keep at least 30% for themselves.

6. How is this any better than just being paid by a cheque or bank transfer?

Many authors have difficulty being paid. For example, to sell on Amazon.com a non-US author needs to get a US ITIN from the IRS or else have a big chunk of their earnings held back. Now imagine being a non-US author living in a country with a banking system not integrated with the US, with high deposit costs, or poor regulations. The barriers can be insurmountable. Chainreads.com is located in Canada, which does not put tax obligations on foreign authors. And by using Algorand to send payments, we can ensure that an author can receive payment anywhere in the world without the high costs and barriers that are part of the traditional financial methods.

7. But crypto payments are volatile!

A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin can fluctuate quite a bit. We are paying our authors using the Algorand network with the USDC stablecoin managed by Circle. A stablecoin is a crypto currency pegged to a specific price so that it doesn’t fluctuate. USDC is pegged to the US Dollar, and is backed by actual US dollars held by Circle, and regulated by New York State.

8. Won’t someone steal money from authors crypto wallets?

Yes, this is a risk. The risk is similar to having your actual wallet stolen from your purse by a pickpocket. Safe data practices can reduce this risk considerably.

9. Why did you start this website?

I’ve seen the use cases that blockchain can solve for – the important ones like banking for the 1 billion people without banks. Translated to the world of authors, it’s about making publishing more equitable, mainly by ensuring that writers can be fairly paid for their work, no matter where in the world they live.

10. Isn’t this just crass self promotion?

This question comes up because the author of a sci-fi trilogy sold on this site also created this site. Authors have always found new ways to promote their work and get attention. In a world where the number of authors is greater than the ability of the market to support them, self-promotion is essential.
That said, the wider purpose of this site is to show how Blockchain technology can increase equity for writers around the world – by making it easier to be paid regardless of where they are, their banking status, or their ability to avoid US witholding taxes.

11. You’re not an industry insider or expert. Why do you think your idea is any good?

It’s been established that people with deep expertise in a field tend to lose some ability to think creatively (the tendency to create original solutions to known problems) over time. This is because the brain becomes so efficient that knowledge is ‘crystlized’: the brain gets really good at using existing knowledge and isn’t as agile at solving novel problems that lie within the area of expertise. So there’s an advantage to being an outsider or a neophyte in an area – you know enough to see problems and try something new, and you aren’t carrying all the baggage of an insider.

12. Can I publish my work on chainreads.com?

We’re currently in public beta. Please fill out the form on the contact page, and we will review your interest. We may invite some of the people who have submitted to publish with us. Because it’s a beta we don’t have automated systems to setup new books – it’s all manually done, for now.

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