Germany’s Bookwire Announces an NFT Marketplace for Book Publishing

In News by Porter Anderson

The German digital book distributor has an autumn target for its NFT platform for the book publishing sector.

Image – iStockphoto: Igor Igorevich

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ruhrmann: ‘Currently Under Development’
With its announcement today (May 6), the Frankfurt-based digital distributor Bookwire steps into the blockchain discussion, creating what it’s calling a new NFT marketplace “for the publishing and creator industry.”

“NFT” stands for “non-fungible token.” It’s a quantity of data stored on a digital ledger that underlies a blockchain. An NFT then works like an identifier, separate from copyright, verifying ownership of a digital property—especially significant for digital files like JPGs and MPGs which can be easily copied and shared online. While NFTs won’t prevent that kind of sharing, they do provide a framework for proving who owns what.

NFT marketplaces have proliferated in the visual art sector since March of this year, when digital artist Beeple sold a JPG file, as an NFT, at auction for US$69 million. According to the New York Times report on the sale, NFTs “are also being used to market and monetize an ever-widening range of cultural, commercial and personal items, in what some have likened to a digital gold rush.”

In a report on NFTs at the Wall Street Journal (March 19), Jason Zweig wrote, “By connecting the blockchain to art and other creative work, NFTs bring the objectivity of computer code to fields that are notorious for subjectivity.

“Artists, writers and musicians struggle to find audiences and make a living. Curators, dealers, collectors and art historians bicker nonstop about the quality and value—and the authenticity—of major works … Until now, buyers often had to take the answers to such questions on faith. An NFT, however, can integrate reams of information about an artwork into an authoritative, permanent digital record.”

Bookwire is announcing its intent to open its platform–sometime in the autumn–as an option for collectibles and digital originals “such as first editions, original manuscripts, and exclusive audio recordings.” At this point, the platform has not been completed or tested.

And it’s interesting that the company’s leads on the project quickly concede that buzz around the “non-fungible token” may not be lasting. They say they nevertheless see a practical application for blockchain activity in the publishing place as making sense.

As today’s media messaging has it, “Publishers and content creators can use the platform to offer their target groups attractive and exclusive products that meet the needs and habits of new generations of digitally influenced readers,” those digital originals being “linked to true digital ownership” which cannot be duplicated.

John Ruhrmann

In a prepared statement, Bookwire’s co-founding managing director John Ruhrmann, is quoted, saying, “For a long time, we at Bookwire have been thinking about using blockchain as a technology for the publishing industry.

“The potential uses of blockchain are huge. The hype around NFTs may die down, but the technology is here to stay.

“We want to enable blockchain solutions for our customers and the market as a whole. The NFT marketplace currently under development is a way for us to start bringing collectors, readers, users and listeners together with publishers, labels, authors and creators.”

The first of the so-called “drops”—digital sales events in which NFTs are offered for sale—should come with the opening of the platform in the fall.

Bookwire’s staff says it will support its publishing clients “in both production and sale of NFTs that guarantee ownership and anti-counterfeiting of digital goods.”

‘All About Audio’

At this point, further details aren’t being offered, but there may be more information presented later this month, when Bookwire presents its annual “All About Audio” program. Last year’s program is said to have drawn at least 1,600 attendees from 38 countries.

The event is set for May 20 and—as in last year’s inaugural outing—is expected to present a round of enthusiastic specialists looking at various aspects of the market in audio and audiobooks.

Speakers anticipated include:

  • Ani Attamian, Google
  • Steve Carsey, Storyglass
  • Mark Mulligan, MIDiA Research
  • Albee Dalbotten Romero,
  • Shelly Sundag, tonies® (Boxine)

A special feature this time is a panel on Spanish-language markets with Juan Baixeras of Audible; Carmen Ospina of Penguin Random House; and Juliana Rueda of Miutbooks.

Free “All About Audio” registration has opened here, and we’ll have further details on the programming.

Publishing Perspectives is a media partner with Bookwire’s ‘All About Audio’ conference. More from us on audiobooks is here, more on subscription is here, and more on Bookwire is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.