While writing B is for Bitcoin, an ABC children’s book about cryptocurrency, author Graeme Moore had an epiphany—children don’t buy books.
“Their parents buy books, especially if you’re writing an ABC book,” said Moore of Toronto. “When the book, Go the [Expletive] to Sleep came out, I thought it was so smart. You aren’t selling a book to a 2-year-old, you’re selling a book to the two-year old’s parents. My book is really targeted at me in five to 10 years. Flash forward and I have a kid, what would I buy? I would have purchased [B is for Bitcoin] because it's what I want to read to my kid. You know, I don't want to teach my kid ‘A is for apple and B is for ball.’ I want to teach him, ‘A is for Altcoin, busts and booms. B is for Bitcoin, when moon?’”
Though he was writing something with his future self in mind, Moore was also writing the book for his niece, who was one-and-a-half years old at the time.
“I was thinking, what would I want to read to her? I don't want to talk about apples and boats and all of that kind of stuff. I want to talk about Bitcoin to my 2-year-old niece who is about to learn how to talk. And that's how she's going to learn the alphabet: A is for Altcoin, B is for Bitcoin, C is for Consensus, and D is for Decentralize.”
Those words are still a little bit beyond her comprehension, the 27-year-old admits. “She is very focused on the shoes that are on the Bitcoin character and the hat he wears on some of the pages. But, reading that book to her and kind of being able to talk about Bitcoin at all hours of the day is what I love to do—just talking about Bitcoin, getting other people excited,” Moore said.
This new realm of self-publishing has made it so easy for anybody to create a book, Moore told me. So easy he says, “you don't really realize how easy it is until you actually do it.”
He used IngramSpark to print on demand books. The process to sign up for the self-publishing platform includes providing business and bank information, signing agreements, and providing a payment method. There are no minimum order quantities.
While it is free to create an IngramSpark account, there are expenses for uploading the book and purchasing an International Standard Book Number or ISBN, a commercial book identifier free to Canadians. Moore said he found a coupon code to wave the $49 fee for a print edition through IngramSpark, and so, for him at least, there were no upfront costs—besides the illustrations.
Moore said he paid two Ukrainian illustrators—Mike and Alexey—he found on Upwork for a total of $1,000 for about 30 pages of artwork.
He uploaded a PDF document of the book to IngramSpark and now almost anyone can buy the Bitcoin-themed children’s book on Amazon. Now he uses the platform’s tools to manage a global distribution network for print and e-book.
From start to finish, the process took about four months, including the illustrations, which took about three.
“In the past, this was not previously possible and now it is,” said Moore. “That's insane,” he said, adding that he was pretty much baffled by the whole, relatively breezy process. “I had no idea that it was really that straight forward. It's just kind of a matter of actually going through the process and realizing, why isn't everybody doing this?”
Moore recouped the costs of his investment into the book within the first week. “So, now I just have pure net profit until the end of time if people buy the book.”
But Moore didn’t write the book for money. It was for fun. “[It was] something that I could do and something I'd been thinking about over the course of four years, and I finally decided, I'm going to make this thing,” he said. “The fact that you don't have to get a book deal, you don't have to go talk to like Penguin or Scholastic, you don't have to negotiate with anybody, but instead that you can in a matter of a day get a book onto the internet that is able to be purchased by anybody, to me, was the most surprising and exciting thing.”
In order to find an illustrator, he posted a job on Upwork. Within a couple of hours, Moore had between 40-50 portfolios from freelancers who wanted the project. The designer he ultimately chose had worked on Bitcoin-themed illustrations in the past, including the Bitcoin character that appears in the book. Moore loved it. It was exactly what he wanted.
“There were a lot of edits that I had to make just because I'm a perfectionist and my skills did not really transfer over that well to Illustrator or Photoshop,” he said. “I must have typed into the Upwork text chat ‘Nudge bitcoin character left four pixels’ 800 times in the span of a three month period.”
Making all those final edits while working remotely, with a language barrier, was difficult. “And then by the end, they were definitely frustrated with me because we had agreed on the price at the beginning. At one point they were like, ‘Okay dude, like, you have to pay me more money because of the amount of revisions I am making.’” That was no problem, so the two worked on an as-needed basis to get it perfect in Moore’s eyes.
“Getting it started was ridiculously easy, but then getting it to that final stage where I was 100% happy with it, was time consuming and at times frustrating,” Moore recalls. “But it was exciting making the book right.” It was completely worth it, he says.
When he was a young child, Moore felt he missed that opportunity to experience the early rise of the internet. “I was just either too young or didn't really understand what was going on with the internet at the time,” recalls Moore, who was a young kid at the time of the Dotcom bubble.
He’s long been obsessed with the internet, watching YouTube videos before the video-sharing website categorized them and even enjoyed a stint as an influencer with 20,000 followers on social media platforms, such as Vine. Still, he was late to the internet party. When he had his Bitcoin aha moment, the crypto asset had only been out for six years.
“I actually have the opportunity to watch this thing unfold right in front of my eyes and not only that, but be a part of it and contribute to it,” he realized, entering the industry at the end of 2014. “As for B is for Bitcoin, I decided I didn’t know the type of company I wanted to start, I don’t know how to program so I can’t contribute to the Bitcoin core protocol, and I realized I could write a book. That’s how it was.”
He adds: “Having that excitement, realizing I could be a part of something very special, and then figuring out in what way I could contribute—this was the best way that I knew how.”
Being somebody who's always loved Dr. Seuss, he thought a children’s book would be a good start.
“Hop on Pop is probably one of my favorite books still to this day,” Moore says of the 1963 picture book by Dr. Seuss containing short poems meant to introduce phonics concepts to children.
Moore says that, besides B is for Bitcoin, his niece’s favorite books are Mouse Cookie Books (such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), Paper Bag Princess, and the works of illustrator and writer Helen Oxbury.
“Their parents buy books, especially if you’re writing […]