I Attended an NFT Book Signing

It wasn’t technically a signing, and it wasn’t technically a book, but it may foreshadow the future of book signings.

The metaverse and other crypto-cultural elements have been directly inspired by the novels by William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and other pioneers of the cyberpunk genre. Yet books have been phenomenally underrepresented on the blockchain.

The Mad Messages collection on Open Sea is my experiment in publishing book chapters as eco-friendly non-fungible tokens. It’s meant having to invent a methodology where no standards yet exist, where no readership yet exists, and where the marketplace and its underlying technologies are in their infancy. But I believe it’s just a matter of time before folks more tech-savvy than myself build a better platform for a flood of NFT books.

Some promising steps in this direction are already being made. Last week, I attended the virtual book launch of Zombieverse by María Verde et al. The book probably won’t be hailed as a modern masterpiece, but its existence on the blockchain and its virtual promotion were both milestone events.

It wasn’t technically a signing, since no standard yet exists for signing a digital book file, although it’s possible that future NFT books may be personalizable by the author if so programmed.

And it wasn’t technically a book. It was a short story written collaboratively by a group of authors responding to a call from PageDAO. As a disclaimer, I’ve just become a member of the DAO, which means I get a tiny vote in its future governance decisions. More about that in another post.

The Zombieverse event took place in voice chat on Discord. The work was short enough that the entire work could be read aloud in one sitting. Purchase of the token representing the book supports its authors and their nascent community. I don’t provide investment advice, especially in the volatile area of NFTs, but considering this particular asset as authenticated by a DAO, minted in a limited quantity, and representing an early example of a new format, I may someday kick myself for not buying a copy.

But here’s the part I thought was especially interesting. As an attendee of the event, I received a POAP, a “proof of attendance protocol” token tied to the NFT book’s first public reading. My participation on that Discord server was confirmed by a bot and, for a limited time afterward, I was on the list of people authorized to mint a POAP. Only 48 of us hold these tokens at the moment, and once they are all claimed no more can ever be made.

It’s actually my first NFT, paid for it in participation rather than money.


Is this the future of book signings? Let me know what you think.