Last week I starred in an article from my favorite Bitcoin news outlet, Coindesk.
In case you missed it, I love Bitcoin. For the uninitiated, Bitcoin is basically internet gold. It’s decentralized, meaning it’s controlled and regulated by open-source software rather than by a central authority or bank. It’s traded online as a medium of exchange and store of value. There are only 21 million bitcoins in existence, 11 million of which are currently in circulation as the remaining 10 million have yet to be “mined.” I think the theory and implementation is a beauty to behold.
Here’s a quick video explaining Bitcoin.
I thought you might enjoy a fuller glimpse of why I love Bitcoin and how it relates to Brothers Whim, so here’s the full interview from October 1, 2013.
1. Can you tell us a bit about “Stick’s Masterpiece” and the upcoming release “Stick’s Adventure,” your history as an author and what inspired you to write your new book?
I started writing my first book, Stick’s Masterpiece, for my boys, but then it was for me. It’s about overcoming the fear of failure. It’s about the power of baby steps when marching toward a specific goal. There are so many great things I’d like to accomplish, but I often find myself afraid to start for fear that I might fail. Stick’s Masterpiece is there to remind me, and hopefully my boys too, that all greatness happens one small stroke at a time.
My second book, Stick’s Adventure, is also for me, and hopefully of use to my boys as well. It’s about finding joy in the moment, instead of always looking forward to some future event or destination to bring happiness. It’s about how life’s most beautiful moments happen along the way, and if we’re always focused on the future, we miss out on those. It’s cliche, I know, but I genuinely struggle to remember and internalize this seemingly obvious bit of wisdom. I guess I figured if I could make it simple enough for a children’s story, I might remember it.
Up until 2012 I was working for Hewlett Packard in San Diego as a mechanical engineer designing printers. I had my dream job, but I wasn’t happy. There were so many other things I wanted to do, but I felt trapped. My wife and I decided it wasn’t worth it, so we made some changes. We sold our stuff, our cars, and our house, I quit my job, and we moved to Costa Rica for an adventure.
While in Costa Rica, I was scrambling for a way to make money. The idea of writing children’s books seemed like a great opportunity. I love teaching my boys through stories. I love open publishing. I loved the possibility of working with my brother. I wasn’t a writer or an artist, but despite my fears of inadequacy, I decided to jump in, believing that the journey toward greatness would be half the fun. Understanding a bit of this history sheds some light on how I chose the themes for my first 2 books.
2. When did you first begin researching alternative currency? What type of bitcoin activities do you take part in? Are you invested in bitcoin?
My first thoughts of alternative currency happened in 2008 while I was reading Human Action. I read the first few pages of a Ron Paul book, I think it was End the Fed, which mentioned in the introduction that Ron Paul’s favorite economic learning resource was mises.org. I put down the book, headed over to mises.org, and downloaded a free copy of Human Action. I never did pick up End the Fed again. It was like a light switch had gone on. Our economic troubles weren’t due to Glass Steagall or some obscure detail about housing loans, it all came down to the State’s uncontested control of the money supply. I wondered how this could possibly be remedied. Maybe gold or silver on a grey market? I didn’t know.
In June 2011 I first saw Bitcoin mentioned in mises.org comment, I think. I immediately recognized it’s potential as a possible solution to our fiat woes. I learned everything I could about Bitcoin for 2 weeks, then I bought $300 worth on Tradehill at $20 each, and forgot about it. When I remembered several months later, Tradehill was closed, my coins were gone, and Bitcoin was at $6. Oh, well, I thought. Hopefully something like Bitcoin comes along again soon. I would have been very happy to know back then how many brilliant minds were still working away at Bitcoin, undiscouraged.
I didn’t think about Bitcoin again until February 2012. I was in Costa Rica, just beginning my storybook website, brotherswhim.com, and wondered where the virtual currency scene might be, if I could accept a virtual currency for my books. I was thrilled to see Bitcoin strong and moving forward. I could hardly wait to make books and get paid in Bitcoin. Until then, I decided I would throw a few more hundred dollars into Bitcoin. Glad I did! The next 3 months of price fluctuations were more fun than canopy ziplining.
Bitcoin was consuming my thoughts. It had me so excited for the future that I could hardly stand it. ng and learning about Bitcoin that I decided to help with the Bitcoin.org press center. One day I saw a post from Mike Hearn about needing volunteers to put a press resource together at Bitcoin.org. I jumped at the opportunity. I’m sure I wasn’t much help, but I tried, and it was great rubbing shoulders with Bitcoin leaders.
3. Would you ever plan to release a bitcoin-themed children’s book? What would the plot be? How would you explain bitcoin to a child?
I love teaching my boys about Bitcoin, and on many occasions I have thought that a children’s book on alternative currency would be awesome. Then I remember, that’s probably just me. I’m getting low on savings and indulging myself by writing anarcho-crypo-currency children’s books seems risky right now. It’s something I’d love to do later on though.
One book idea I like is one to illustrate the dangers of trusting one person to control the money. “Fat Fred and the Case of the Multiplying Candy Tickets.” You can probably guess what it might be about. The kids at the playground realize that trading candy is far easier using a medium of exchange, Candy Tickets. But there is a problem with the Candy Tickets. What if somebody counterfeits them? Fred convinces the other kids at the playground that he’ll fairly enforce all the transactions to make sure there is no fraud. Mysteriously the price of candy inches upward, while Fred’s gut inches outward. Maybe a little kid named Ludwig, along with his friend Jeffrey, are the ones who solve the case.
I’d love to hear any Bitcoin story ideas from whoever feels inclined to share!
4. As a self publisher what appeals to you most about bitcoin? Can you name some specific advantages? What was your thought process leading up to this decision?
My number one reason for using Bitcoin as a self-publisher is because I love circumventing corrupt banking. I do not believe that Fred the FED, should control all the money. I like using money they can’t control, if for no other reason than to prove that I can.
My second reason for using Bitcoin as a self-publisher is because I believe it’s a fantastic investment. As people come together to close the Bitcoin loop, the value of Bitcoin is reinforced and magnified. I love being a part of something greater than myself. By joining the Bitcoin economy, I feel that I am joining a paradigm-crushing movement that will improve this world forever. Besides believing that Bitcoin will grow tremendously in value, I believe it is the right moral investment for me to make as well.
My third reason to accept Bitcoin is because it’s cheaper. PayPal takes 3%. That hurts when I’m doing everything I can to cut costs. With a simple WooCommerce plugin, I can get paid in Bitcoin for free, or maybe a few pennies, from anywhere in the world. If you’re new to Bitcoin, let that blow your mind for a second.
5. So far, what has the response been from the bitcoin community since your book’s release? Have you connected with any other authors using bitcoin?
So far I’ve sold 8 books via Bitcoin. Three to Canada, two to Hawaii, two to Utah, and one to Wisconsin. Thanks guys! You know who you are.
I’d like to connect with other children’s book authors interested in Bitcoin, but that demographic seems kind of thin still. Bitcoin, children’s books, and open publishing are a strange trio, I admit. I connected with one children’s book author at a recent Bitmob to the Black Sheep Cafe in Provo, Utah, which was great, but I’d love to connect a lot more with the other open-publishing, Bitcoin, children’s book authors out there.
6. Bitcoin is such a thriving community, to what extent were you motivated to accept bitcoin for the additional press it would generate?
Yes, I did hope that accepting Bitcoin would give me extra exposure, but I didn’t think that exposure would come via press as much as it would via word of mouth. I wanted to give Bitcoiners one more thing to mention when explaining Bitcoin to their friends. “Oh, yeah, you like that awesome children’s book? I bought that with Bitcoin. See, I told you it’s real.” Boom! Bitcoin, open-publishing, and Brothers Whim all evangelized in one beautiful sentence. I want people to share my books because it’s to their advantage to share my books, not just because they feel like doing a poor ginger a favor.
7. In terms of sales how does brothers whim compare to your previous books? How was this influenced by bitcoin and how did your 5 percent discount factor in? Can you share some numbers or data with us?
Brothers Whim is where my career as a children’s book author starts. In 2012 I was a disgruntled mechanical engineer. Now I’m openly publishing children’s books on BrothersWhim.com. and sharing my storymaking learning curve as I go. The time may soon come that I have to get a “real” job, but I had to try. If I fail, I fail in glory. I think this world would be a far better place if more people did what they believed mattered instead of what they believed might give them security. Of course, there is a balance to be struck. Don’t be stupid about it.
My first book arrived September 19th. Total sales in the past week and a half since then are at 105. Eight of those were Bitcoin sales. I offer a 5% discount to Bitcoin purchases because no PayPal fees, and I think Bitcoin is a good investment. I want to give people an incentive to pay with Bitcoin. I’m betting I’ll end up far better off holding onto bitcoins than onto dollars.
8. As a self-publisher, how does bitcoin differ from BuyBulk and AmazonPrime, two other payment options you accept?
Bitcoin is the easiest and cheapest payment option. No fees. No bank accounts. No hassle.
I offer my books through Amazon because it is convenient for customers. One-click buy and 2-day free shipping is pretty awesome when you’re buying a new book. The bulk buying options are only available through brotherswhim.com, and therefore payable via Bitcoin, because I could handle inventory easier that way.
9. What difference has your decision to accept bitcoin made for you financially if any?
My biggest financial advantage from Bitcoin so far has come from deflation. I think that will continue to be the case.
(Deflation is the increased buying power of a currency – the opposite of inflation. In October 2010, Bitcoin’s exchange rate was around $0.20. In October 2011 it was around $4. In October 2012, it was around $12. Today it’s around $180.)
10. Would you be willing to share a copy of the eBook so I could use for the story?
Of course. The ebook is available for free here: http://brotherswhim.com/
(It’s been fascinating for me to see how sticky the copyright mentality is. I continually run into questions like this, despite my best efforts to clearly explain our open-source approach.)