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NFT and Publishing Industry: From Books to Articles

May 8, 2024
7 min read

This blog post will cover:

  • NFTs and Publishing: A New Relationship 
  • How NFTs Work in Publishing
  • Advantages
  • Challenges
  • Successful Examples
  • The Future of NFTs in Publishing 
  • Conclusion 

The dream of all creators has come! With Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) leading the charge, authors become pioneers, readers become collectors, and the lines between reality and fiction blur in the most captivating of ways. NFTs have impacted various industries, including publishing. This article explores the intersection of the two concepts, shedding light on a new era of NFT book publishing.

NFTs and Publishing: A New Relationship 

NFTs, unique digital assets secured by blockchain, create a myriad of possibilities for the publishing industry. One of such - they can redefine ownership, offering authors more control over their work and opening new revenue streams - we all probably know about this for now. But what do things look like in the publishing industry?

The publishing industry has a diverse past, changing over time to keep up with cultural shifts, technology, and what consumers want. At first, it focused on print media like books, newspapers, and magazines. Then, Johannes Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the 15th century changed everything. It made books easier and cheaper to produce, which helped spread literacy and share ideas.

In the 20th century, mass-market paperbacks became popular, making books cheaper and easier to carry. At the same time, television and radio introduced new ways to share stories and information, challenging the publishing industry to keep up.

Today, digital technology is the biggest influence on publishing. In 2024, digital publications are everywhere, and self-publishing offers new chances for authors. E-books, audiobooks, and NFT books are also growing in popularity. To succeed, creators must keep adapting.

How NFTs Work in Publishing

NFTs serve as unique digital certificates that confirm ownership of a digital item. These transactions are recorded on a blockchain, a secure, unchangeable ledger that manages transaction records and asset tracking. In simple terms, owning the NFT means owning the original digital item, with this ownership securely documented and impossible to alter - this is great news for those pursuing NFT book publishing.

NFTs offer various possibilities in the publishing sector:

  • Limited editions: authors and self-publishers can release limited copies of their literary works as NFTs, adding credibility and potentially increasing their value among specific buyers.

  • Digital collectibles: authors have the opportunity to create trading cards, original artwork, and screensavers approved by the author.

  • Signed copies: authors may choose to offer a limited number of digitally signed books, adding rarity and appeal to fans.

The global NFT market was valued at $35 billion (£30 billion) in 2022 and is projected to exceed $80 billion (£68 billion) by 2025. Despite fluctuations in the market, the core principles of assets remain strong and a lot of enthusiasts are wondering how to buy NFT books or publish them. The concept presents an exciting new frontier for the publishing industry to explore, although challenges do exist.


NFTs can bring about a paradigm shift in the publishing industry, offering numerous benefits:

  • Direct monetization: authors can sell their works directly to readers as NFTs, bypassing traditional publishing houses and platforms. This could potentially lead to higher earnings for authors.

  • Proof of ownership: they provide indisputable proof of ownership, which can be particularly useful in the digital world where piracy and plagiarism are common.

  • Interactivity and engagement: they can be programmed to include interactive elements, providing a unique reading experience. They can also facilitate direct engagement between authors and readers.

  • Royalties: NFTs can also be programmed to pay royalties to the author every time they are resold, ensuring that authors benefit from the secondary market.


While NFTs offer exciting possibilities, books on NFT also come with their own set of challenges:

  • Legal and regulatory issues: the legal framework for NFTs is still evolving. Issues related to intellectual property rights, copyright laws, and consumer protection need to be addressed.

  • Environmental concerns: they are often criticized for their environmental impact due to the high energy consumption of blockchain networks.

  • Market acceptance: there might be resistance from authors, publishers, and readers in accepting this new model. Traditional publishers might see NFTs as a threat to their business model.

  • Technology adoption: the publishing industry might face challenges in adopting blockchain technology, which is the backbone of NFTs. This includes technical issues, cost of implementation, and the need for technical expertise.

Successful Examples

Several case studies illustrate the potential of NFTs in publishing. For instance, a well-known case involved National Geographic's venture into NFTs. As part of its 135th-anniversary celebration, the iconic magazine launched its first NFT collection on the Polygon blockchain. This move aimed to intertwine its rich storytelling tradition with cutting-edge technology, opening new avenues for engagement with its audience. While we uncover two other cases below, click here to learn about what challenges the National Geographic project faced.

TIME Magazine and NFTs

TIME Magazine NFTS has been at the forefront of integrating into the publishing realm. In March 2021, TIME introduced three exclusive NFT magazine covers up for auction. These covers featured two iconic past editions and a specially crafted cover specifically designed for the auction. Inspired by historical covers like "Is God Dead?" and "Is Truth Dead?" from the 1960s, the new cover provocatively asked, "Is Fiat Dead?", mirroring the growing influence of cryptocurrencies. The auction took place on the cryptocurrency platform SuperRare, marking a pioneering move by the magazine to explore additional revenue avenues.

In a separate occurrence, TIME launched the inaugural fully decentralized magazine edition, accessible solely as an NFT on the blockchain. This shows how it can be used to innovate not just individual pieces of content, but entire issues.

Emily Segal and “Burn Alpha”

Emily Segal, a former trend forecaster, turned to NFTs to fund her novel "Burn Alpha". She auctioned the initial manuscript excerpt of her novel as an NFT, raising 6.6 ETH (approximately $10,000 at the time). This innovative approach allowed her to crowdfund her novel directly from her readers. The NFT was minted using the Zora protocol, and supporters retained a stake in both the manuscript excerpt and full manuscript NFTs.

The Future of NFTs in Publishing 

In the future, NFTs have the potential to transform the publishing sector significantly. They may democratize publishing by enabling authors to monetize their work directly and interact more closely with their audience. Nevertheless, the industry must confront various challenges such as legal issues, environmental considerations, and the necessity for wider acceptance of blockchain technology.

As we enter this new era, authors, publishers, and readers each have vital roles to fulfill. Authors must innovate to connect with their audience using NFTs, publishers must adjust to evolving business models.


In summary, NFTs present both exciting prospects and formidable challenges for the publishing sector. While they introduce a fresh approach to ownership and revenue generation for content, they also pose legal, environmental, and technological obstacles. As the industry grapples with these changes, the roles of authors, publishers, and readers are poised to transform. Although the future remains uncertain, the capacity to inaugurate a novel era of ownership and revenue streams is evident.

SimpleSwap reminds you that this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide investment advice. All purchases and cryptocurrency investments are your own responsibility.

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