Edmonton claims the world’s first NFT book, written by Todd Babiak and donated to the EPL.

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The Edmonton Public Library and two prominent Edmontonians officially give the city a few global first places.

Author Todd Babiak has officially released the very first book to be auctioned off as a non-fungible token, and businessman Chris LaBossiere has purchased it. As of today, the EPL will now offer it as an e-book to anyone with a library card.

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The Daughters of Walsingham, written by Todd Babiak, is the world's first NFT book, purchased and donated to the EPL.
The Daughters of Walsingham, written by Todd Babiak, is the world’s first NFT book, purchased and donated to the EPL. Delivered

It all started somewhere between last October’s release of Babiak’s latest novel, The Spirits Up, and Christmas in 2021, where the author had an idea.

“My daughters and I came up with ideas for a book,” says Babiak, author, entrepreneur and former Edmontonian who now lives in Tasmania, Australia. “At the same time, I followed and learned about what happens to blockchains and cryptocurrencies, especially Ethereum (ether), which led me to look at NFTs, non-fungible tokens.”

That was when Babiak came up with the idea of ​​publishing the book, called The Daughters of Walsingham, as an NFT. For the uninitiated, NFTs are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain, which is a public digital ledger used to record transactions, thus preserving their uniqueness to the buyer. In general, most NFTs have been photos, videos, digital art or albums, some have brought in many millions of dollars. Books, however, were yet to emerge as an option.

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“I looked at it and realized that no one has tried because it makes no sense,” Babiak says. “Why would you only write a book to have only one person to own it? The whole point of writing a book is to get as many people as possible to read it.”

Yet Babiak was fascinated by the idea. He had The Daughters of Walsingham changed to an e-book format and appeared on an NFT marketplace called Open Sea as an experiment. Shortly after, he logged on and discovered that someone had bought it. Not just anyone, mind you; the buyer was old friend Chris LaBossiere, an Edmonton-based businessman and co-entrepreneur.

LaBossiere had seen Babiak tweet about putting the book on the Open Sea and was fascinated. At the same time, he also tried to make sense of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. With two days left of bidding, he turned to the CEO of a Bitcoin company called Bitcoin Well for help understanding the process of converting hard cash into Ether, a cryptocurrency invented by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin.

LaBossiere paid two ethers for The Daughters of Walsingham, roughly the equivalent of $ 8,000. Now that he had the book all to himself, he realized he actually wanted to share it. What better way to do that than to grab a rope at the Edmonton Public Library?

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“It’s an exceptionally good book,” says LaBossiere. “I think it’s easily his most commercial in terms of ability to spread. It has a franchise component because it’s a bit like a spy novel about Harry Potter meeting teenage girls, and I can see him writing a whole lot more on the same premise. So as the technical owner of the book, I was the only one who could read it, and no author wants that. I asked Todd if he would be open to me going to the library, and he was. ”

LaBossiere then reached out to Tina Thomas, CEO of Customer Experience at EPL, and the ball kept rolling from there.

“I did a little bit of research on our part to see if we could make this possible, and we could,” Thomas says. “Chris still owns the book, but because of the deal we have, we can lend it to as many people as we want. Other e-books often have limitations on them; If you’re a library user, you know that sometimes you’ve had to wait for a digital piece of content to come back. Because we have full access to this piece, it is at the same time available to any Edmontonian with a library card who wants to read it, whether it is 50 or 500. “

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It is a global first place for everyone involved, as both the first book that was made fully available as an NFT and the first time a library has lent an NFT. This fits in well with the library’s plans to help educate Edmontonians in blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. In the future, they will bring in a professor from the University of Alberta to talk about these topics and more. As Babiak himself says, it can be difficult to try to explain these terms.

“It also hurts in my head,” he admits crookedly, “so I try to use analogies when explaining NFTs. When I talk to people about it, they understand that it’s a digital version of the original Van. “Gogh painting or Shakespeare folio trapped in the museum. When I say that, they tend to see the rest as at least understandable.”

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The saga of The Daughters of Walsingham does not end with the EPL. Both Babiak and LaBossiere are still discussing what happens next with the NFT-there-too-a-book, though anything is possible at this point. Whatever it is, Babiak is ready for the adventure.

“Maybe Chris’s putting it up again on the Open Sea, and someone’s bidding higher than his original bid,” Babiak ponders. “Maybe they want to make a movie out of it, and then Chris will take the difference and donate it to the EPL. It’s a nice, elegant solution. But it’s just been a magically fun thing for me to learn about NFTs through this process. . “

From March 22, The Daughters of Walsingham can be borrowed by the EPL.

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