Publishing Perspectives Staff Report
Creatokia Is a Sister Company to Bookwire’s CoreAhead of Tuesday’s (March 29) free three-hour “All About Blockchain” program, we’ve had a chance to put several questions to Bookwire co-founding managing director John Ruhrmann.
As mentioned in our previous story on the event, “All About Blockchain” reflects Bookwire’s opening of its own NFT (non-fungible token) platform, Creatokia, announced by the company in May of last year. Programming information is in that story, and the event, in English, starts at 3 p.m. CET / 13:00 GMT / 2 p.m. BST / 9 a.m. ET. It’s open now for registration here.
We start our exchange for our Rights Edition today (March 25) with Ruhrmann with a question that reflects on the fact that the publishing industry several years ago began discussing blockchain. How does the program on Tuesday come to be called “All About Blockchain” instead of “All About NFTs,” the newer element of the issue—particularly with the arrival of the new Creatokia platform?
John Ruhrmann: The “All About …” series is one that we always want to cover exciting topics with movers and shakers of megatrends for publishers.
The overarching theme now is blockchain, although the focus here is NFTs [non-fungible tokens]. We’ll certainly also do another event about audio, also one day about ebooks or about other digital publishing topics. Since NFTs are a blockchain solution, a very exciting solution for publishers, they’ll be covered more in the current online summit. Other blockchain topics may come up again in a future 2023 event.
Publishing Perspectives: When we look at NFTs—still finding their way into the consciousness of many, even in world financial markets—can you tell the Publishing Perspectives readership just how NFTs can work for book publishing? The real question is what is an NFT in publishing? Is it a limited edition of a book? Or something a step removed like the collection of author-themed stained glass you have at the Creatokia site?
John Ruhrmann: The exciting thing about NFTs is that they create originality and can also be traded on a blockchain. What makes them distinct from an ebook or an audiobook is that you can create true digital originals, which serve fans and readers in totally unique ways.
This content can be sold directly by publishers to fans, readers and collectors. In addition, other content can be linked to it. Or access to special areas on the Web can be sold, offering exclusive interaction with an NFT.
What we find particularly exciting in terms of copyright and exploitation is the fact that with smart contracts, the resale of content on a blockchain after the initial sale can also generate income for the authors and publishers. This is another reason why we think NFTs are an exciting idea for content producers.
And yes, they can be combined with other pieces of art. With the “Eternal Masterpiece Collection” on Creatokia, we want to show and test what’s possible. Here, authors of world literature are portrayed iconically and their great sentences and scenes from their epic works are spoken by world-class speakers. These are genuine, limited, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Of course, I’ve also bought digital originals of Jules Verne and HG Wells.
Publishing Perspectives: What seems to be the toughest part for publishing professionals to handle, in discovering and working with blockchain and NFTs? For one thing, is it NFTs or is it blockchain that seems to be the biggest hurdle?
John Ruhrmann: I think publishers just need a strategy on how to deal with the so-called Web3 and the metaverse. We provide the technology with Creatokia, and feel passionately about educating stakeholders through events like “All About.”
Certainly, authors and publishers have an opportunity to influence the changes we’re currently facing in positive ways. Every new technology, every new trend, every new big topic is an exciting opportunity for publishing companies and authors.
Publishing Perspectives: And in terms of blockchain, one of the problems that some have run into in thinking about blockchain for creative work and intellectual property has been the creation of an attribution ledger–the registry that actually holds the definitive identification and ownership details of a product. Where does that stand now? Has Bookwire created its own attribution ledger?—basically its own blockchain?
John Ruhrmann: I’m convinced that database applications on the blockchain can create legal security for rights holders. These will be in demand as a decentralized source of information. These can even function as an aid to licensing content.
At Creatokia, we are currently using an Ethereum connection. We will expand with the Polygon blockchain in the near future. This will open up more possibilities for our customers and collectors. Even now, Creatokia NFT holders are able to show them in our social wallet MY OAN or on OPEN SEA.
And if your reader is wondering what I’m talking about, our free event might be interesting.
Publishing Perspectives: You and Jens Klingelhöfer and Videl Bar-Kar and the team have come so far with Bookwire as a distributor in digital products—especially with the Spanish and Latin American markets expansion. How have you managed the resources to go in this new direction with NFTs and blockchain?
John Ruhrmann: For Bookwire, it’s important to provide our customers with a stable and growing business in ebooks, audiobooks, podcast and print-on-demand titles. For this, we have developed the Bookwire OS platform and our various solutions with our team, and we continue to innovate in this space.
Our mission statement also includes providing our publishers with service and technology, so it’s therefore important for us to master blockchain technology, especially because we want to inspire new exciting talents for the book and content industry.
However, not to burden our core teams, the Creatokia team is a separate entity and will hopefully develop in an interesting way as a sister company. Innovation is anchored in our budget, which is vital to ensuring that our core service continues to develop in the long term.
Publishing Perspectives: And what would you like potential attendees for All About Blockchain on the 29th to know first and foremost? What’s top-of-mind for you and the team in producing this spring’s program?
John Ruhrmann: All the speakers are interesting people with strong expertise. I’m also particularly looking forward to the publishers who will openly discuss blockchain applications. Please feel free to take a look at the program.
Our hope is that participants will go home thinking, ‘That was interesting. I learned something new. I need to think about that further.'”
Publishing Perspectives is a media partner with Bookwire’s ‘All About Blockchain conference.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact is here.