The Path to Decentralize Knowledge
13 min readJun 22, 2021,

Abstract: Next to banking, book publishing is one of the oldest industries on earth with some companies being hundreds of years old. Many of these publishers still operate under centuries-old business models. While the digital side of the book industry is relatively new, in technology terms it is very outdated and built upon non-scalable centralized technology from 15 years ago.

Anyone who has “purchased” an eBook or Audiobook to date from any retailer did not actually purchase the digital book. Instead they were only sold a license to view the book which is revocable anytime by the retailer, publisher, or author. There is no actual ownership. Once you have read an eBook or listened to an Audiobook, you are stuck with it on your digital bookshelf — unable to sell it or transfer it to someone else.

With the invention of blockchain and Web3 technologies like NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) we now have the ability to create unique and individual digital objects. Early iterations have been primarily focused on collectible digital artwork, where the NFT acts as a receipt of purchase with a meta link to a publicly viewable image.

By utilizing this same infrastructure along with smart contracts and decentralized storage, Book Token has created the ability to have unique digital book assets that are fully decentralized and also fully encrypted — all stored on the blockchain. We can now store any digital media, text, images, audio or video — without the use of any centralized databases, and with no way to destroy or remove the content. We call this 3rd Generation of utility-based NFTs “Decentralized Encrypted Assets” (DEAs). This is revolutionary because it enables true ownership of digital books and media while not showing the contents of the NFT publicly on the blockchain.

We believe it is a fundamental right that people should own their own books. Historically it is dangerous and bad for humankind when central authorities can control information and take books from people. Books, long-form content, and subsequently humanity’s collective knowledge should not be controlled by centralized authorities who can turn “on” or “off” book titles, while simultaneously preventing users from true ownership and no ability to sell or transfer a digital book after they have finished reading or listening to it.

There are over 100MM cryptocurrency holders worldwide — however, in the next 12 months over 1.1B people will “purchase” a digital book. We believe a shift will occur and that consumers will demand ownership of their digital content — especially as we see a movement towards metaverse products.

We believe that education and books are key to enhancing society — but not if they are merely sold as a consumable product never to be read. So we are also introducing the world’s first Read-to-Earn model, whereby readers will earn a native cryptocurrency based on the amount of content that they read or listen to. Statistically societies with a higher level of education have less crime rates, and less violent crimes. From what was originally, pay-to-read, then to subsidized/free reading (libraries & public education), to read-to-earn, we believe incentivizing reading will radically shift society for the better.


Early attempts at creating eBooks began to disrupt the publishing industry and in 2007 Amazon radically disrupted the publishing industry 15 years ago when it released its first Kindle reader. Since then there have been only minor technology advancements, which is unique for most industries in this day and age. This is in large part due to retailers working to centralize and control the publishing industry. While most consumer believe when the hit a “Buy Now” button they are purchasing that eBook or Audiobook -when in fact they are only buying a license to view the content. Currently, no customer who has ever “purchased” an eBook or Audiobook actually owns one.

There are five large publishers that control nearly 66% of the publishing industry (soon to possibly be only four if the Penguin Random House purchase of Simon & Schuster is finalized). These publishers are prevented by the Department of Justice from working directly with each other to develop any new solutions. So centralized retailers have an effective monopoly on the industry. Additionally eBooks have to adhere to what is called Agency book pricing model which effectively equates to price-fixing, whereby any place an eBook is for sale on the internet it has to be sold for the same price. While this was originally conceived as a possible way to level the playing field for other would be retailers in reality it only furthered the monopoly by large centralized retailers and unfortunately had the opposite effect of helping new marketplaces.

In 2010, centralized reseller reported Kindle sales of e-books outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever, saying it sold 140 e-books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there was no digital edition. By 2011, e-book sales at Amazon surpassed its paperback sales as well. Centralized retailers only report sales data and revenue back to publishers. They prevent transparent and open communication between the Authors who write, own, or sell the content from ever communicating with the end reader — because they seek to centralize and control the ecosystem. This has causes Publishers and Authors to be apathetic to the system readers use, and often times the lack of data and transparency creates hostility towards centralized retailers.

However, now for the first time in history, a digital item can be a unique, single, and trackable item. Leveraging recent developments in 3rd generation blockchain technology, it is now possible to create NFT-based eBooks and audiobooks that can be moved in an economically scalable way thanks to recent Smart Contract and Proof-of-Stake developments. This will disrupt the current digital publishing industry due to its incomparable advancements and ultimately move from a license-based industry to a digital ownership model, whereby:


  • The ability for readers to see a real-time value of all of the digital books they own
  • The ability for readers to sell back their eBooks or audiobooks to an open marketplace
  • The ability for readers to earn cryptocurrency based on reading/listening progress
  • The ability to share or transfer a digital book much like a physical book
  • A unique book purchase could contain embedded multi-language support — and combined audio
  • NFT marketplaces (including eBay) are rapidly expanding and this will become commonplace — giving readers multiple places to resell their purchases
  • Ability to exchange BOOK Token for other cryptocurrencies on decentralized exchanges
  • Fundamentally change the education system with verified reading and an ongoing historical record of consumption

Publishers & Authors:

  • The ability for Authors and Publishers to get paid via smart contracts on all second-hand sales opens a completely new revenue stream in perpetuity
  • Next-generation security and Digital Rights Management will prevent what is currently very easily breakable, preventing lost revenue from digital counterfeiting
  • The ability for Publisher Sales Rights to transfer instantly from one Publisher or Imprint to another
  • The ability to produce unique digital collectible editions of books
  • The ability for anonymized Author-to-Reader communication, along with Publisher marketing tools that do not currently exist
  • Publisher/Authors can see holistic data about how their content is being consumed to inform future resource allocation
  • The ability for Print, eBook, and audiobooks to truly be securely bundled and tracked
  • The ability for Independent Authors to earn enormously higher revenue splits

Education & Business:

  • Universities and schools can verify exactly how much content a particular student or employee read, with an irrefutable record of these activities stored on the blockchain forever
  • Own digital books and learning materials that never decay, and can easily be transferred between students
  • Buy in bulk directly from publishers and authors to reduce shipping costs
  • Enable NFT-publishing of works that they can then monetize

2. The Team:

The BOOK Token team previously created and sold an eBook platform and distribution company that had over 6,000,000 registers users. As the first eReader to be device agnostic it grew quickly. Choosing to work with, instead of against Publishers, the catalog contained over 186,000 Publishers and Imprints worldwide, including all of the Big 5 Catalogues (Penguin/Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan) and represented millions of book titles. The team was featured multiple times in technology publications and led the way for creating the most innovative reading experiences — many components of which were emulated by large centralized retailers. It became the world’s largest bulk eBook distributor with enterprise partnerships with Wall Street Journal, Intel, T-Mobile, Apple, Microsoft, Google, AARP, CBS, General Mills, over 50 universities including Stanford, and hundreds of others entities. This unique end-to-end digital publishing experience positions the team in a way that would be extremely difficult for newcomers to compete with or easily replicate.

Joshua Stone, Co-Founder & CEO. Josh has over 25 years of experience in tech, from startups to enterprise. In 1999 he worked on the first version of, later he lead the interactive marketing teams for AT&T, and following the Product/UX team for Josh has had two startup exits, Big Jump Media (, and, where he was President and Chief Product Officer. Most recently he served as CEO for a NYT-BestSelling Author’s digital training platform.

Ben Illian, Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer. A natural entrepreneur, Ben has been drawn to tech and startups since 2004. He has led teams as a VP of Marketing & Sales, Product Owner, Social Media Manager, and Chief Growth Officer. Working with Josh, Ben was part of two start-up exits, and now works full-time as a Chief Growth Officer, coming up with innovative ways to maximize revenue, lower acquisition costs, and provide the best customer journey.

3. The Opportunity

Digital Publishing presents an exciting opportunity due to the abundance of problems that exist in different areas. We will categorically break down each of these issues.


Problem: Over the years authors have been at odds with the Publishing system and have been trying to navigate the shift to a digital-first ecosystem. Digital books have zero quantity control — they are either an eBook or Audiobook that gets distributed an unlimited amount of times with no transparent and verifiable mechanism to audit. Book advances and author royalties have gone down steadily- even though the production costs for eBooks have reduced the cost of distribution exponentially. Authors receive no information about who is purchasing their books and unless they create their own social media following organically, they have no way of communicating with their audiences. Additionally, once a physical book has been sold at retail the Author never receives a royalty on a second-hand sale of their book. This is because most are independent resale shops. So as their intellectual property continues to be sold time and time again they receive nothing for it. For Authors willing to go the independent publishing route, generally terms can be a bit more lucrative but they lose the marketing and PR engine along with the distribution mechanisms and infrastructure that a Publisher provides.

Solution: Authors need better terms and better incentives. The egregious fees incurred under the strong grasp of Amazon squeezes out the margins for Authors. Quantities need to be controlled and Authors should be allowed 1–1 contact with their reading audiences. They deserve access to a suite of marketing tools and completely transparent data. Authors should receive higher splits as well as residuals on the resale of their books in perpetuity. Authors should have the ability to create special releases and collectibles just like any other unique digital media.


Problem: Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology is currently extremely weak. It’s susceptible to security breaches which lead to pirated eBooks and Audiobooks, creating long-term monetization issues. Amazon, as one of their primary distributors, provides little data to Publishers and absolutely no help in marketing at scale. Sales splits are dictated and Publishers are trapped, fearful of the next change Amazon will force upon them.

Solution: BOOK Token will forever change publishing. The decentralized network will deliver a level of security that is unobtainable in a centralized system. Furthermore, it will allow publishers a more amicable sales split plus additional revenue in the secondary market by harnessing the power of smart contracts. Digital limited editions, reader stats and user data, volume control, eBook and print bundling, and instant transfer of IP ownership are tools that only BOOK Token can deliver.

Readers & Collectors

Problem: Most people own both physical and digital books. However, only physical books have a resale value. The eBooks and audiobooks on our digitals shelves do not belong to us — we have only paid a one-time fee for access.

Solution: BOOK Token’s mission is to decentralize knowledge. The reader is paramount and providing the best reading platform and the secondary marketplace is the only viable path in an increasingly digital world. The reader’s journey on BOOK Token is drastically different: After purchasing an eBook or audiobook, they will receive BOOK Tokens for consuming the work, then have an option to sell their assets on the secondary market. Instead of buying files that have merely been duplicated, they are buying one-of-a-kind editions.

4. Technology & The BOOK Token

As blockchain technology has progressed to what is referred to as “3rd generation blockchain”, we are now able to leverage Proof-of-Stake (POS) open-source technology that makes NFT-based eBooks possible, with gas fees that are predictably lower than Proof-of-Work (POW) models. This is why we have chosen to build the initial version of the BOOK Token on the Cardano Platform.

Cardano is the leading Proof-of-Stake blockchain. It has more developers contributing to its open-source platform than any other blockchain. It was founded by one of the original co-founders of Ethereum to effectively correct all of the known POW limitations, and to account for a model that would scale to billions of people and millions of potential transactions per second. Additionally, a massive advantage when compared to other blockchain ecosystems, Cardano set out to develop a codebase that is more easily accessible to all developers worldwide. Its primary smart contract language is written in Haskell, which is a leading functional programming language.

On June 2, 2021, 10 Billion $BOOK Tokens were minted as native-based Cardano tokens. This is a fixed supply and no more tokens can ever be created. The source for this is available for review at:

Having a native utility token for our ecosystem has a multitude of benefits. The primary reasons are:

• Rewarding users for reading their books. We call this “reader mining” and “knowledge mining”. As our reader technology verifies what content users read or listened to, they earn tokens BOOK tokens.

• BOOK tokens can be used to purchase new books, although they are not required as Fiat and other Cryptocurrencies will be accepted as payment. In certain instances, however, using BOOK tokens to purchase new content will result in receiving discounts on book purchases.

• Paying transfer fees and book royalties inside the ecosystem to Publishers, Authors, other delegates (which could be other entities, organizations, non-profits based on the specific parameters of each Book Token Smart Contract) and to the Book Token Platform for operational costs.

• Using BOOK tokens in the seller’s advertising portion of the ecosystem to utilize an anonymous marketing system so that content creators can connect with their reading/listening audiences in relevant ways.

• Preserving and ensuring the future development and engineering costs for the platform are covered.

How are Book NFTs created? The majority of the publishing industry relies on an XML-based ONIX format for metadata transfer. As our ingestion system consumes these data and file feeds we will use the Haskell-based Plutus Cardano language to generate individual Tokens for each book that is created. This will allow us to specify the exact quantity of individual copies of a book that can be created, along with specifying on a book-by-book basis what the sale and resale construct and fee/split structures will be within each smart contract. Once these token supplies are created they will be unique and individual digital items that can not be duplicated or destroyed and will live on a blockchain indefinitely — decentralizing knowledge requires books that can not be burned.

The following chart describes the basic flow of the ecosystem from Publishers to Readers:

5. Token Allocation

The BOOK Token Utility Coin will be sold both privately in multiple rounds, and publicly as an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO). The following describes the BOOK Token distribution:

The total fixed supply of all $BOOK is 10B tokens:
• 3B (30%) for Reader Rewards (We also call this “Reader Mining” and “Knowledge Mining”)
• 2.5B (25%) for Fundraising
• 3B (30%) for Team & Acquisitions
• 1.5B (15%) Reserved for Future Platform Development

6. Roadmap

The BOOK Token ecosystem will be a groundbreaking proof-of-stake blockchain solution for the development of a decentralized NFT-based eBook & Audiobook platform. It will be built with the rigor of high-assurance formal development methods and aims to achieve the scalability, interoperability, and sustainability needed for real-world applications. BOOK Token is designed to be the platform of choice for both large-scale Publisher technology solutions, as well as Independent Authors — with the focus and mission being to supply the absolute best reading, purchasing, and reselling economy of the future.

To create the BOOK Ecosystem there are multiple prerequisite phases to enter the publishing market. Some of these tasks could come via the acquisition of existing contracts and/or technology.


• Initial Fundraising

• Team Creation

• Industry Partnerships


• Infrastructure for NFT Books

• DRM encryption

• SmartContracts

• NFT Gating

• Book Club Functionality

• Transitive Royalties


• Fully Decentralized Encrypted NFT eBooks

• First Decentralized Encrypted Assets (DEAs)

• Anonymous Browser-based Open eReader


• More NFT Book Releases

• Marketplace and P2P Exchange Launch

• Public Crowd Sale of $BOOK Utility Tokens

• Onboarding of Publisher Catalogues


• Mint+Print™ Book Bundling

• Asset Management/Internal Wallet Generation

• Multi-Chain Integration

• Bulk NFT Distribution

• Mobile App Release

• Read-to-Earn launch

• Audiobook Integration

• Multi-language Support

• Accessibility


• Fully Decentralized Reader

• SDKs for any external reader implementation

• Author/Publisher Tools, Enterprise Marketing System

• SmartContract WYSIWYG


• Fully Decentralized eReader

• Autonomous Key Management dApp

• Development Voting platform


-- is a Web3 marketplace for buying, reading, selling & trading eBooks and Audiobooks.