We like to complain and bash middlemen that take a cut from profits – like Amazon taking 30–65% from my e-book revenue. While I’d rather not pay them, it personally doesn’t bother me too much.
I’m sure many authors will probably agree that it’s a small price to pay for the reach you achieve and consistency you get from a large platform like Kindle or blogging site like Medium. It’s a win-win, and it’s the reason why I continue to use these platforms instead of completely switching to the decentralized, blockchain-based Steemit (at least for now).
Of course, those that have an already sizeable audience are at a big advantage. They can just milk the traffic they have without incurring many expenses other than minimal web-hosting costs. Their audience will buy whatever they’re creating and they can pocket 100% of the money. They could even avoid Paypal/Stripe transaction fees if they switched to Stellar, which has an integration with WordPress. But it takes a lot more work to get there.
That doesn’t mean I’m happy with Kindle or Medium, though.
As a writer and a marketer there are many disadvantages.
Here is where these traditional, centralized businesses like Amazon or Medium fall short. Here’s what they can’t do.
They can’t process micro-payments for shorter payment cycles.
I get paid e-book royalties once a month on Amazon. Why can’t I get paid within 5 minutes of someone making a purchase? Why do I have to wait 5 weeks to collect money from Medium and then an additional 3 days for my bank to process the transaction? Cash flow is important for companies, and finance departments are set up to process payments in two-week or one-month cycles within the existing paradigm. With decentralized blockchain platforms, this is no longer necessary.
They don’t allow you to allocate royalties to multiple parties.
My friend proofread an e-book I wrote. An ex-colleague provided valuable feedback. A freelancer made the book cover. Several people provided quotes and insights. And, not to mention, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my mom. Shouldn’t it be possible for me to allocate royalties (a few pennies) to all of these people simultaneously in a decentralized manner when I make a book sale? Perhaps it further incentivizes them to see me succeed and help out next time – after all, they would have skin in the game.
There’s no flexibility in the platforms.
Kindle is not a decentralized crowdfunding platform – but it could be. Let’s say I put a book on pre-order 3 months in advance. People are excited about it. But I’m a writer and need to pay the bills. I need money for beer and coffee. What if there are 10 people who want to pay money up front (similar to a publisher advance, except not), say, $3,000 total. This would help me to write the book, and once it’s published they get a copy (duh) and a percentage of my royalties paid directly into their bank accounts to recoup the money they invested that made the book possible. This royalty agreement could be set to expire after a certain amount of time or once the royalties match their investment. You could kind of do this on Kickstarter; but why can’t I leverage the same platform/Amazon audience?
Here’s a good explainer video by Decent (Dcore platform) that allows you to create revenue sharing, crowdfunding, and custom tokens as I described above. I’m thinking about these in terms of benefits for authors/bloggers but you can essentially apply it to any industry (starting a band/owning X business etc).
There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do that I can’t given these constraints, but all the ideas I mentioned are already possible using smart contracts. Just waiting for the right entrepreneur to come along and sweep me off my feet.