The Haiku Book, an origin story

Originally posted on Reddit.

Dear Ethereans,
On January 1st 2021, we’ll celebrate the two-year anniversary of the haikus. Back in 2019, u/singlestateserenity (SSS from now on) started posting a haiku a day at the start of the Daily. These haikus were a delightful change in what was a brutal bear market. You can check the full history of the haikus here. After the r/ethtrader / r/ethfinance community split, SSS decided not to continue writing haikus, and the idea of a book was abandoned.

In this post, I’ll try to reconstruct how the book came to be.

TL;DR

  • Trailer & website launch on Dec 28th
  • Haiku Book & NFT launch on Jan 1st
  • A lot of effort went into this book. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

The Idea

Over a year ago, I publicly mentioned the idea of a book to SSS. He reached out to me:

Hi Krokodilmannchen,
I have come to you for advice. I am receiving many comments every month regarding pre orders for a book. Do you think this is a good idea? We have discussed and would like to do it but stay within the Ethereum ecosystem.
We thought we could launch a smart contract that mints an erc20 on receiving Eth that we would call Redeemable Book Tokens, these tokens can then be traded in at a later date for the book.
I am open to discussing but please refrain from publicly talking about this.
Thanks, -sss

I happily replied.

hey sss,
I’m honored that you reach out to me! I’m a big fan of what you’re doing here. 🙂 🙂

I believe that you definitely should consider publishing your work. There are different ways to think about it. You could do a quarterly publication (90 days) and make it a series of booklets. Or a bi-yearly, or yearly, but I’d warn you against a too long of a time period because it might start to feel like you are obliged to “produce” haiku’s, you know? If you think that this isn’t a problem, then disregard what I just said. But I do believe that a Jan 1st-March 31st (or June 30th) could be a nice start to see a) how many people are interested b) test the water with publishing options. I took the freedom to take some pictures of a Rupi Kaur book I have here, which is what I had in mind when I thought about your haiku’s. You could even include some artwork (or not).
I’d still recommend you consider uploading the book to Amazon because it gives buyers a chance to stay anonymous, as you as the publisher won’t get access to their data. You could also make use of a kickstarter model (where you raise funds and publish a beautiful hardcover for example) on Ethereum but I don’t know if people are willing to give you their addresses. The hybrid version of this is to make a beautiful hardcover and have Amazon ship it for you (FBA).
In my mind, you could (for example) mint 100 tokens representing 100 printed books (say Q1-Q2 2019) and see how that goes. Are people willing to give their physical addresses or do they want an intermediary like Amazon? What is the demand for the book?
I cannot really help you with the technical implementation, ie. if it should be an ERC20/ERC721 token and how you could build that. There are some people here that can help you with that. The guy from Mintable.app comes to mind. I have a friend (on ethtrader as well) who has some ideas as well.
Okay, I just went off on a semi-rant because I’m excited by the thought alone! Does any of what I wrote make sense? I’d be very happy to support you through this because it’s plain awesome.

We continued our chat on details regarding the token structure and other ideas, until SSS came with the very first design suggestion:

Hi there.
We have some early designs.
https://imgur.com/a/2b9Rrvx
What do you think? From your previous message, I’m assuming we have similar tastes.

This was very exciting. We were ready to go. We had an idea about the book, the layout, how to structure the sale, and more. Until the community split happened. SSS publicly stated that he would discontinue the haiku series, we DM’d a bit. He wrote:

We no longer have any interest in a book. If you’d like to continue the idea you’re more than welcome to. We would only ask for a share of profits. Thank you for your help along the way. 🙂

SSS had some artwork made and put me in touch with the artist. I decided not to buy her work and continue with the project myself, with another designer, and made an early comment on the open-source nature of the project. I thought and still think that publishing on Amazon is the way to go:

(..) I’ll go and find an artist myself. I’ll stick to the Rupi Kaur layout, but I haven’t decided if I’d have artwork with every single haiku, or just a few throughout the book.
Also, I thought about the profit sharing. I’d probably open source (Github) the book (like Andreas does with this Mastering Bitcoin/Mastering Ethereum books) and publish it on Amazon for the lowest price I can, without making a profit on the sale of the book itself. If people would like to, they could make a direct donation to you. I can add a QR code with an ETH/DAI/BTC address. Would that be okay for you? If so, I’ll make a public statement/post in the next coming days laying out the plans to make this work, both on r/ethtrader and r/ethfinance.
Cheers!

A couple of days later, I made my first post announcing going forward with the book.

From an idea to a book

So far so good. We have an agreement to continue with the book with some kind of profit-sharing, I have a public Ethereum address of his (no ENS), but here’s where things get tricky. SSS and I lost contact. Throughout the past year, I tried to reach out to him a couple of times, but to no avail.

In the meantime, the book was, slowly but steadily, going somewhere. /u/blockchainunchained had set up a github page that scraped the haikus and added the $ETH price, ETH/BTC ratio and date. It’s offline but I gladly used his data to start building the book. I physically printed a list with the raw data (here’s the album). It got a bit wet bc I sometimes forget to close my window when it rains:

This led to the designer to come up with about 70 hand-drawn artworks that you find in the book.

Getting more serious

Around this time, /u/_kitteh (who you know from the beautiful subreddit banners) and I started talking about the book. This is how he recalls it:

When I met Krokodilmannchen he showed me the test print of The Haiku Book (which was still without a cover at that time), I immediately knew I wanted to be part of this community-focused project.
He had poured a lot of his own resources into getting the book done, what had started out as a series of posts by Singlestateserenity had now formed into a physical book that could be ordered by anyone all over the world. By the community, for the community.
I told Krokodilmannchen I wanted to contribute by creating the cover art for the book, and I proposed a plan to also issue a small series of NFTs that would launch alongside the (non-profit) book.
The profits of the NFTs would recuperate the investment Krokodilmannchen had made to get the book done, and also provide a fun way to collect some compensation for SSS.
It is wonderful being part of community-driven projects and this time I had the opportunity to help out the person taking the initial risks by harnessing the awesomeness that are NFTs.

He came up with a v1 version of the cover, front & back.

By this time, we figured out that we would have two avenues, available on January 1st, 2021:

For free

  • Offer the full book for free as a PDF
  • Offer a POAP badge (“tokenized book”)
  • High res book cover poster (free download)

For sale (to recoup expenses)

  • Sell the physical copy (worldwide) to preserve privacy
  • Offer a very limited series of NFTs by _kitteh

 On financial transparency

All in all, I guess this project has cost me about 1000 DAI, divided between artwork and book design, excluding the hours I put into this and possible future bookkeeping costs. How I think about the financial side:

  • A PDF will be available for free
  • The POAP will be available for free
  • The physical book will be sold at a €3.50/$3.50 profit for me (you can check the KDP calculator), so that I can recoup the expenses.
  • The NFTs will be auctioned through _kitteh’s Rarible. We have an equal profit-split between him, SSS, and myself, up until the starting bid. Excess profits will be split between _kitteh and me.

Quick note on SSS: I thought about registering an ENS domain for him, but it doesn’t feel right to hold his funds (ie. I might lose access), or share the public address he gave me. If you want to donate to him, send him a DM. If he ever returns, you can arrange it in private.

If you wish to donate, you can do so through kroko.eth or kitteh.eth.

If you want to get a reminder on Jan 1st, ping me on Twitter @heyitskroko and I’ll let you know!

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