We are keeping it smaller to reduce risk and help viability as its our first project with SCF! We expect this to be a medium-large project that can be built incrementally. This initial amount will go toward a larger investment we’ll make internally when it gets beyond beta. We are extending an existing business, developing it as a use case to build on the latest Stellar technology, so it does solve a real-world problem. To deliver a successful project, we will draw from our network of contributors, will use our thousands of pages of content and engage existing users throughout.
We are in the planning stages and looking for others to join or fund us.
However, we are a real company and know this market well, having sold over 20,000 books/e-books to customers around the world. Our revenue helps fund other community projects and fund needy students to speak at events.
We have the plan and skills to build something more advanced than just an e-reader by tying it into Stellar. We’ve created a token on Stellar using Python APIs to gain familiarity and are planning the next steps to make it active and test. Our funding will come from incremental revenue, which will take a long time without some outside help and shared interests from the community.
We are building on the initial success of our business to help improve the reading experience for everyone. We use existing open source technology (Linux, LaTex, etc) to build our books and need another publishing layer on top of that that others can also use.
Today’s e-book readers need more flexibility and affordability options. Buying a full PDF or DRM’d Kindle book using a credit card is not an innovative solution for all users everywhere.
Currently, our thousands of customers, are forced to buy a full book when they may only need part of it for their research/training. We will use a Stellar-based token system to let readers purchase smaller pieces of content, from anywhere in our catalogue of book titles.
This allows cross-border transactions that release us from having to use specific payment providers that don’t support all people equally. Tokens are ideal for micro-transactions in this context and will tie content ownership to a token transaction.
Unfortunately, systems like this do not already exist. Some publishers sell access to small parts of a PDF but at a high price. Other solutions require publishers to pay substantial amounts of fees and royalties for an online solution to host this kind of system.
We solve this by delivering an open source publishing platform that we will use behind our own service, but share with others, and serve as a real-world use case for an existing business transitioning to blockchain technology in their business.
THE ROLE OF STELLAR
Stellar-based tokens will be used as the base for our transactions. We will also look at existing on-ramps for those coming with fiat currency to purchase our tokens and, subsequently, access pieces of content from our books.
Accounts and assets will be used to prove ownership and allowing trading of owned material to others.
Our mature market is made up of professionals and educators in the fields of geography, resource management, water management, and more. We have sold over 20,000 books and e-books to this market since 2011.
- Professionals are geospatial analysts, open source developers, and consultants for business and government. These tend to be young-middle aged adults in developed nations who help manage the ecology or planning aspects of projects for their clients.
- Educators are teaching the fundamental concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) so students can learn to manage their own community resources (the role of mapping “your” land cannot be exaggerated in building a fair and inclusive world). The students of these trainers tend to be young adult or even secondary education students, who are learning valuable skills to bring them into the professional market.
- The market is global and there is value to both developed and developing nations in this project.
For most users, no one in our market will be expected to understand blockchain, digital currency, or distributed exchange architectures as the service leverages them seamlessly as a virtual token. Advanced users will benefit from being able to buy/trade tokens on distributed exchanges and allow them to use existing digital forms of money they may have, instead of having to rely on traditional payment systems.
Our online reading platform will be accessible through a subscription-based service instead of a one-off book purchase. This is a change for us, helping us to diversify our offerings and income channels. [More details on our business are available if needed but contain private information so need guidance on how to share that properly in this forum.]
Users will purchase a batch of tokens they can use to unlock access to pieces of content in our books. To retain a copy of the content after initial viewing, they will use tokens to identify areas of interest.
We will allow subscribers to have access to a larger amount of material, from across many books, while they have a certain number of tokens in their possession. We believe that tying to Stellar-based token use is critical as we want that to provide a type of liquidity behind our content to help fund further development in the future when there are enough tokens in circulation.
Our goal is to provide several options that make it 1. Easy/cheaper to get started. 2. Let you build your own library of knowledge. 3. Potentially trade that library with others through tokenized ownership. Each of these will require substantial testing to find the right balance for pricing, but overall we expect to be competitive because large enterprise publishers that use/provide similar services chew up 25-40% of sales revenue off the top. We won’t have that kind of overhead.
We provide a type of value-based pricing, that remains competitive yet provides more value to everyone in the ecosystem around us. We are marketing and selling books that teach open source software, so it also generates interest and supports those community-centric projects.
OUR GROWTH PLANS
We run an existing, profitable, small business generating modest revenue, so pricing and competition are already well known. We will be pursuing this project regardless of external funding but it will take years instead of months to complete as we do not use any kind of debt financing.
We expect to increase the lifetime customer value by 50% within 2 years as we give more people a reason to come back and see what’s new. This kind of repeat business could become a substantial revenue increase if priced right. For example, if even 25% of our customers can come back and pay even 50% more to access smaller amounts of material, it could be impactful at this stage. The ROI of the project, if funded, would be a few years unless we were also able to help do consulting for other publishers and re-sell the platform too.
MORE CONTENT = MORE CUSTOMERS
When we release new books we bring in a mix of new and repeat customers that helps us gauge potential in the market. The market is not saturated and there is continuing new technology to teach on and a growing thirst in the market. By providing a way to access more granular pieces of content, we are essentially releasing many smaller books, which we know will sell at a smaller price point.
Our current books sell for $25-35 and we often sell only one or two books to each customer. Our PDF-based, DRM-free, books sell with very little overhead and are sold through our own platform that uses Stripe.
By extending our model to allow similar spending (e.g., $30 for 30 tokens) that gives access to broader material we can help them answer more targeted questions and keep them engaged longer as a customer as well.
Likewise, a lower income reader can start to learn with a smaller investment and buy “half a book” for 50% of the cost, for example.
Traditional publishing, including Kindle publishing, is filled with middlemen. They only exist because platforms to deliver better solutions are not developed and shared by independent publishers.
Open source software has yet to be applied to this market and we have the experience to build one that meets the customer/market needs as well as needs of publishers. We sell to a niche audience and would like to see other, non-competitors, also benefit from taking control of their digital publishing capabilities.
By releasing our work as open source, we show the good faith we have in both the developer community around Stellar as well as fellow publishers needing new tools.
New publishers will be able to pick up our platform and use it to sell books, via Stellar, in a new and innovative way and still make profits for their authors and business.