STEM Tuesday

Book #5561: A Case Study

On July 13, 2022, at 6:46 PM ET, Otto the Poolboy minted a tokenized book.

A tokenized book can be thought of either as an NFT linked to literary content or as a book with blockchain-enhanced features. In the Summer of 2022, the NFT market was on the decline and has since been declared dead, so this case study will take a book-centric approach.

In Web3 publishing, books are “minted” from a smart-contract that serves as a metaphorical printing press. The smart-contract allows an author or publisher to define the conditions under which book-linked tokens can be minted, transferred, or burned. When the proper conditions are met, the minting process forges the first link in a chain of provenance that will follow a tokenized book throughout its lifetime on a ledger that can’t be retroactively changed.

The book Otto minted was token #5561 in what would ultimately become an edition of 14,889 token-gated copies of Bored & Dangerous by Neil Strauss, published by Tally Labs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Web3 publishing smart-contracts can be programmed to release their books in phases, each applying a separate set of rules for a set period of time. Minting rights can be limited to the holders of a mint pass as a way to reward to early supporters, or may be limited to specific wallet holders on an allow-list that includes contest winners.

Otto minted Book #5561 during Bored & Dangerous’s raucous pre-public mint phase, when minting was only available to select insiders, including members of the Jenkins the Valet’s Writers Room, contest winners, and licensors of character IP. Although this phase of the mint was closed to the public, copies started popping up on secondary marketplaces at an initial floor price of around 0.23 ETH (US ~$250) apiece.

Valuation will be a major topic in the unfolding story of Book #5561. Tokenized books, like all things that can be owned, have a value governed by the rules supply and demand. The ultimate purchase price is whatever amount a buyer and seller can agree upon.

Because tokenized book transactions are accounted for on a blockchain, sellers and prospective buyers have equal access to market listings, bids, historical sales, and other data points useful in setting a fair market price. The floor price of a collection is one of these data points, representing the lowest-cost entry point into an edition at any given moment.

The floor price also helps determine the market cap of a collection, which is found by multiplying the floor price by the total number of items in the collection. Market cap is a useful shorthand measure by which the value of entire collections can be compared or tracked over time.

With a floor price of 0.23 ETH, the Bored & Dangerous book collection would have had an initial market cap of around $3.7 million as the full print-run of books was minted.

Another consideration of value for some Web3 books is the presence of a desirable trait. Some Web3 book traits provide metadata about a book’s author, genre, language, publishing date, and other useful information. Other traits may identify variant covers, alternate content, or randomly assigned features with varying levels of rarity.

The cover of each Bored & Dangerous book is an animation of a spinning book against an illustrated background set to one of three music loops determined by a trait. Around 5% of the books minted with the “Jenkins the Vallet” trait and its associated loop, around 20% of the books minted with the “Great Ape Society” trait and loop, and the remaining 75% of the books minted with the “Money Train” trait and loop.

As a “Great Ape Society” variant, Book #5561 could command a premium from a subset of collectors who valued that trait above the collection’s general floor price.

On July 20, 2022, at 10:25AM ET, Otto the Poolboy sold Book #5561 to a user named More Than Ever for 0.579 ETH (US ~$880).

Through the balance of July and into August of 2022, the Bored & Dangerous book collection experienced a steady rise in its floor price amidst heavy trading. Thousands of ETH, representing millions of US Dollars, changed hands. At its peak, the floor price exceeded the ETH equivalent of $1000 per book, with the Bored & Dangerous book collection achieving a market cap of around $15 million, establishing a record for tokenized book collections.

As a Web3 author, I watched these jaw-dropping sales with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, this level of hype and exclusivity wasn’t part of the book future I had been working toward for most of the previous year. My interest was, and still is, in advancing the development and adoption of next-generation publishing. As a practical matter, having to pay four figures to access a novel would price nearly all readers out of the market.

On the other hand, I was glad for the attention Bored & Dangerous was bringing to the nascent Web3 book market. Although blockchain tokens can be linked to all kinds of digitized content, NFTs had become conflated with JEPGs in the public imagination. Tokenized books, representing a greater technical challenge to create, had gotten a later start and were still relegated to an obscure niche.

The Bored & Dangerous book release represented a new hope for the future of Web3 publishing, a rising tide that could lift other book projects and platforms. The success of Bored & Dangerous brought us closer to a world where collectors’ editions might provide a living wage to authors while subsidizing free or nearly free mass-market editions for readers.

The technology that had tokenized Bored & Dangerous books had also tokenized the platform of their creation. Before minting books, TallyLabs had minted shares of a studio. Four tiers of access tokens granted governance votes, royalties, and early minting rights, and token-gated access to Jenkins the Valet’s Writers Room.

Jenkins was an Ape mascot who served as the debut book’s main character. If Tally Labs had aspirations to become a Web3 Disney, Jenkins was to be their Mickey Mouse.

When I first heard about the Jenkins and his Writers Room, entry-level valet tickets had a floor price of a couple hundred dollars apiece. I’d passed on that opportunity, and watched from outside as the project snowballed. Tally Labs secured millions of dollars in VC funds, talent representation for Jenkins, and a top-tier agency to shop film rights around Hollywood. During pre-release development of Bored & Dangerous, which took the best part of a year, the floor price of a valet ticket rose into the thousands of dollars.

Tally Labs built a community around their writer’s open studio, where members could provide input and peek in on the drafting process. To tell the story of Jenkins, Tally Labs had enlisted ten-time New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss. Although not known as a novelist, Strauss had already become a legend in the Web3 publishing world for the 2021 release of Survive All Apocalypses, also known as LIT Project One, which was held in high esteem by prominent collectors. No other author had stronger publishing credentials combined with such a demonstrated commitment to Web3 publishing.

In addition to securing Strauss as an author, Tally Labs had licensed some of Jenkins the Valet’s fellow characters from the iconic Bored Ape Yacht Club. The Web3 twist was that this intellectual property wasn’t licensed from that project’s creator, but from individual holders who had been granted rights to any characters derived from the unique images they held. The process ensured a book that leveraged one of the most widely recognized brands in the NFT space while securing the active participation of BAYC community members.

I’m one of those people who see Bored Apes as irredeemably ugly and cartoonish, but tastes are subjective and many people seem to enjoy the collection’s simian aesthetic. A talented enough author could definitely craft even this lot into a stable of compelling characters. Was Neil Strass a talented enough author? The book was gated, accessible only to token-holders, so only they could know for sure.

Aside from its fiscal performance, iconic branding, and presumptive literary merits, the Bored & Dangerous collection also represented a historic advance in technical innovation. Its smart-contract provided holders with a choice between keeping their books or irrevocably “burning” them to buy into the next project in the Tally Labs pipeline, Azurbala, which would license original characters called Azurians for an upcoming multimedia franchise.

Although a “book burning” evokes hateful events in history, burning is the common term for a transaction that takes blockchain tokens out of circulation, making these book burnings a demonstration of self-sacrifice rather than one of censorship. Passage to Azurbala required an act of faith, permanently destroying a finished work of exceptional value in order to receive a stake in an unfinished and untested project that was being built from the ground up.

Each Bored & Dangerous token provided a gateway to the finished novel, but could now be traded for what lay behind Door Number 2, a second gateway to what might someday become a massive franchise.

Most holders opted for Door Number 2. During the burn period, the number of ownable Bored & Dangerous books fell from 14,889 to just 5,225. This not only provided momentum for the next project but, with all other market forces held constant, constrained supply and sustained demand should have sent the value of Bored & Dangerous on an upward spiral into the stratosphere.

Except that the surrounding crypto climate was already in decline, rocked by scams, scandals, and regulatory uncertainty. The NFT market was already slipping by the Summer of ’22, and was heading for a prolonged crash. Overall trading volumes, floor prices, and enthusiasm across the Web3 space fell by orders of magnitude as a stubborn bear market stretched from late 2022 into 2023.

On January 22, 2023, at 10:19AM ET, a user named MacxD bought Book #5561 for 0.11 ETH (US ~$175).

As values trend downward in a bear market, a collection’s floor price may experience a race to the bottom. Holders who want to jettison their assets undercut other listings and the floor shifts from being a cost of entry to a salvage value for sellers.

Buyers become increasingly discerning, bargain-hunting in major collections while letting minor collections languish. If a collection has no buyers for an extended period of time, market listings will expire until none are left, giving the collection an effective floor price of zero.

A September 2023 report by research group dappGambl found that of 73,257 NFT collections identified by the authors, 95% had become essentially worthless. Even among the top 8,850 NFT projects tracked by CoinMarketCap, the functional equivalent of an NFT market index, 18% had a floor price of zero.

In many corners of the media, NFTs were officially declared dead, but things may not actually be as bleak as they may appear.

For example, the NFT crash had at least one silver lining for tokenized books. As the overall NFT market declined, Bored & Dangerous values plunged into a range that ordinary folks would consider reasonable for a book that’s actually meant to be read and enjoyed for its content.

On September 25, 2023, at 11:25PM ET, I bought Book #5561 for 0.013 ETH (US ~$20).

I’m thrilled to have picked Book #5561 off the floor for the price of an ordinary hardcover. Since then, the floor price in Ethereum has slipped even further and may very well drop to zero in the near future. But whatever its price and whatever its literary merits, this book’s place in literary history makes it a treasure.

Bored & Dangerous could only ever have been written and published in a very narrow window of time that it uniquely embodies.

The recent floor price for the Bored & Dangerous collection has been hovering around 0.01 ETH (US ~$18).

Tally Labs’s Azurbala project seems to have gone into hibernation, despite the development of a next-generation writers room. Out of 9,656 copies of Bored & Dangerous that were burned to become Azur Roots, only 5,196 have so far been minted into Azurians that might yet become characters in an upcoming project.

A second-hand Azurian can currently be had for about $27, a price that’s up from a month ago, but which may also drop to zero.

Despite the death of NFTs, the tools and platforms that underlie blockchain technology have continued to evolve toward lower transaction fees, better security, more regulation, and environmental sustainability. New book formats are still being developed with the potential to benefit authors and their reader communities.

That story is still being written.

STEM Tuesday — Spooky and Scary Science– Interview with Gail Jarrow

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview, a repeating feature for the last Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Happy Spooky Season! What better way to celebrate this deliciously horrific month than with a book that’s TERRIFYING?!

American Murderer: The Parasite That Haunted the South is a riveting tale of an unwelcome guest that wreaked havoc in the 19th and early 20th centuries by boring into unsuspecting bodies through the skin and leaving its human hosts with wrecked bodies and brains.

Horrifying! Let’s dig in with Gail Jarrow!


American Murderer

Included on NPR’s 2022 “Books We Love” List Finalist, 2023 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction ALSC Notable Children’s Book

Andi Diehn: My first question feels a tad obvious, but why did you devote a whole book to hookworms?!   

Gail Jarrow: Gross and disgusting appeals to many  in my audience of ages 10+. You can’t beat a vampire creature that clings to the inside of your intestine wall with its suction-cup mouth and sucks your blood until you get sick or  die. And what’s more disgusting than a discussion of leaky outhouses? But beyond that, my account of hookworm disease in the U.S. is a little-known story showing  the  changes in medicine and public health that occurred in the early 1900s. I also was drawn to the subject because it dramatically illustrates how  researchers used the scientific method to make medical discoveries.

AD: Arthur Looss and his accidental discovery of how hookworms entered the body – wow! What does this tell you about the courage of scientists (or at least that particular scientist!)? 

GJ: You have to admire them!  Looss made a dangerous lab error that he recognized as an opportunity. In  research for my books, I’ve encountered several scientists who have intentionally put themselves at risk. Sometimes they’re so sure of themselves that they don’t consider their experiment to be reckless. But in other less certain situations,  they decide that being a human guinea pig is the only way to test a hypothesis. In Bubonic Panic, I tell how Waldemar Haffkine injected himself with the first plague vaccine in 1897, keeping records of his physical reaction. In Red Madness, Joseph Goldberger swallowed a “pill” made of feces, urine, blood, and saliva from pellagra victims to prove that the disease wasn’t contagious. His 1916 experiment put the infectious theory to rest. (Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease.) In 1984, Barry Marshall successfully tested his hypothesis that a bacterium caused stomach ulcers by swallowing a beaker full of the microbe. He did get an ulcer, which he cured with antibiotics, but he also received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery.hookworm

AD: Stiles’s name for his newly discovered hookworm – the American Murderer – is chilling! Why do you think he gave it such a chilling moniker?

GJ: Stiles wasn’t a subtle man. He knew this human hookworm killed people, and he gave it a name to communicate that fact. The name certainly brought attention to the parasite, and it gave me a good book title.

AD: Your descriptions of how people with hookworm were treated – even by medical professionals – is heartbreaking. What’s the lesson here? How can we use that moment in American history to improve current medical practices?hookworm victims

GJ: Having written a few books about the history of medicine, I’ve learned that  “accepted” theories can be wrong. Patients suffer when the mantra is “everyone agrees that. . ..”  As part of my research for American Murderer, I read medical books from the late 19th/early 20th centuries. According to the experts, human hookworm disease didn’t exist in the U.S. except in recent migrants. But Charles Stiles proved that was incorrect and that millions of southerners were infected, probably for generations. He had studied in Europe, where the disease was recognized and easily treated. The American medical establishment, particularly in the South, was slow to go along because Stiles was a parasitologist, not a physician. They also didn’t want to admit that, because of their ignorance, they’d misdiagnosed and failed to treat their patients for years. The sick people were dismissed by  their communities as lazy and stupid. And because victims were usually infected by hookworms at home,  it appeared as if these undesirable character traits simply ran in the family.  The lesson for today is that the medical community must be open to new ideas, knowledge, and approaches and should not dismiss them for the wrong reasons.hookworm education

AD: The cotton mills and Stiles’s narrow focus on hookworms – how might history have been different if Stiles had entertained the idea that other issues affected the mill workers?

GJ: Perhaps that  would have sped up reforms, especially concerning child labor. Still, just a few years later, in 1916, Joseph Goldberger and the U.S. Public Health Service investigated the health of mill workers and identified poor nutrition as a pervasive problem. These studies, as well as Lewis Hine’s photographs of child laborers, helped to bring reforms.

AD: The story of the hookworm is the story of public health – what did we learn from that era that we’ve put to use in more recent times, like with covid?

GJ: The hookworm campaign that started in 1909 demonstrated that in order to reduce or eliminate a disease,  it’s important to educate people about prevention and treatment. The information must be explained clearly and accurately without being condescending. In the early 1900s, newspapers were key to disseminating that information.The articles were written by Stiles, the Public Health Service, and doctors. Today we see similar efforts to transmit facts about COVID, influenza, prenatal care, vaccines, and other health concerns. But times have changed. People no longer have just one reliable source to keep them informed, such as their local newspaper. While additional kinds of media are available to educate the public today,  more unvetted, confusing, and false information is readily available, too.

before and after hookworm victim

A before and after image of a boy cured of hookworms

The hookworm campaign also showed that people are more likely to accept and act on information when they hear it from someone they trust. That meant keeping the  campaign local, at the county or state level and even in the schools and churches. The strategy was to reach people where they were, no matter who they were in terms of socio-economic status or race. The clinics  were staffed by local doctors and community volunteers known by the visitors. Today we see a decline in trust of public health institutions like the CDC and FDA–for many reasons. That’s proving to be a problem.

AD: It’s wonderful to see the before and after photos of victims who were cured, but I also worry about longterm effects on their mental/emotional health – did officials do anything to support individuals once they’d been cured of hookworm? 

GJ: Judging from the personal testimonies I read, I’d say that people who had been cured felt so much better physically that they were  happier and more positive about their lives. With energy to work and learn, they could support and care for their families. Rather than focusing on emotional support (an approach which is more of our time than theirs),  the campaign’s follow-up plan was to stop reinfection by educating hookworm victims about how the parasites spread and helping to install effective waste disposal systems at homes. State education departments added hookworm to the curriculum so that students learned about the disease’s cause, prevention, and treatment. Laws  in southern states required well-maintained outhouses in schools. Eventually, sewers were built in most towns and cities, which stopped the spread of hookworm and other intestinal diseases. But even today, many rural homes like mine are not hooked up to a municipal sewer, and it’s up to the homeowner to have a safe system. newspaper clippings

AD: Why was it important to you to bring readers to the present time to see what the worm situation is like today?

GJ: I always aim to convey hope in my endings.  Hookworm infections were significantly reduced in the United States. Research brought better treatments. The recognized importance of proper waste management spurred  infrastructure improvements.  At the same time, I tried to get young readers to think about what happens when they flush  a toilet and how their health can be affected by tiny parasites. I even included some advice about wearing proper footwear on our southeastern beaches to avoid infection by dog hookworms. 

I also wanted young readers to be aware that at least 1.5 billion people worldwide are still afflicted with soil-transmitted worms, including hookworms. These infections negatively impact a country’s economy and political stability.  It’s essential to know what’s going on in the world beyond. Sooner or later, these things affect all of us.


Gail Jarror headshot

Gail Jarrow is the author of nonfiction books and novels for ages 8-18.

Her books for young readers have earned the Winner of the Excellence in Nonfiction Award from YALSA-ALA; the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award; Orbis Pictus Honor; Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award; the Jefferson Cup; Grateful American Book Prize Honor; Golden Kite Honor for NF for Older Readers; Eureka! Gold Award; ALA Notable Book; Notable Social Studies Trade Book; the National Science Teaching Association Outstanding Science Trade Book and Best STEM Book, Best Books awards from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Bank Street College of Education, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and NPR. She has received additional awards and recognition from the American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Public Library Association, the Society of School Librarians International, and Junior Library Guild.


Andi DiehnAndi Diehn grew up near the ocean chatting with horseshoe crabs and now lives in the mountains surrounded by dogs, cats, lizards, chickens, ducks, moose, deer, and bobcats, some of which help themselves to whatever she manages to grow in the garden. You are most likely to find her reading a book, talking about books, writing a book, or discussing politics with her sons. She has 20 children’s books published or forthcoming.

STEM Tuesday — Spooky and Scary Science– Writing Tips & Resources

The Lizard Brain & the Science of Fear

Spooky and scary! What a great October theme for STEM Tuesday. I’ve been looking forward to this month for a long time, especially that awesome book listOctober or not, we can’t really look into the spooky and scary without taking a step back and taking a dive into why they are appealing and how they work on our brains.  

Many people are drawn to media and entertainment that contain a scary or spooky element. The scary and the spooky are all around us. Movies, TV shows, games, music, haunted houses, and literature. Fear sells!

We don’t think much about nonfiction when considering things that scare us but, as our book list exhibits, nonfiction can also use the power of the scare to entertain and inform readers. To put a fine twist on an old saying, the truth is scarier than fiction.

It all starts in the brain. In the limbic system to be exact. It’s a neurological system so inherent in biology that it is often termed the “lizard brain”. The scare (the stimulus) triggers the amygdala in the brain to signal the ancient fight-or-flight response. Motor functioning is put on high alert, the sympathetic nervous system goes into action and there is a release of stress hormones. 

SoniaM2020, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

You are ready to respond physically to the scare just as eons of biological organisms have responded. Our primal response is primed! 

  • The brain becomes hyperalert.
  • Our pupils dilate.
  • Breathing accelerates.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase.
  • Blood flow to the muscles increases bringing more fuel (glucose) to them.
  • Digestion and other systems that are not immediately needed for fight or for flight go into a reduced-function mode.

At the same time, the amygdala communicates with another part of the limbic system, the hypothalamus. Now is the time for the brain to think and analyze the potential threat the scare brings. The hypothalamus and the prefrontal cortex rapidly take in all the perceived data, assess it against memory and learned behavior, and then process whether the threat from the scare is real. If no real threat exists, the lizard brain shuts down the flight-or-fight response and we can now relax after the zombie character who chased us in the haunted house.

Young, Art, 1866-1943, artist, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

With literature and other media, this fear response can actually be a positive experience, which provides one explanation for why so many people love the spooky and the scary. There’s also research showing that controlled fright situations can actually benefit cognitive and emotional well-being. When the limbic system kicks in, the external stressors currently causing anxiety and lowering cognitive abilities get biochemically shoved to the back burner. The individual is given a respite from their problems for a period of time and is able to function again at a higher emotional and cognitive level. We feel better and perform better after a controlled fright!

See? Scary and spooky–in an appropriate and non-threatening manner that is unique to each of our individual brains–are actually good for us. Scary and spooky fiction AND nonfiction fit this bill perfectly. Children’s fiction and nonfiction allow readers to experience and learn in an age-appropriate way.

How about that? The trash in/trash out theory my mom used to preach to me when I read scary things, watched scary movies, or dissected frogs and examined roadkill was not 100% true. I was training my lizard brain! (I do believe Mom would agree with the labeling of my adolescent brain as a “lizard brain”.)

As writers, readers, and consumers of all kinds of media, we can learn to use the tool of fright in our work to enhance, entertain, and educate at a higher level. We first must learn to tap into and put to work our limbic system. Knowing how the brain works can help creators appeal to the brains of our audience. Fear can be a powerful thing.

Have a great October 2023 and enjoy a fright or two! I know I will. Bwahaha…



Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal-opportunity sports enthusiast, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training-related topics at and writer stuff at  www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101, are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64 and on Instagram at @mikehays64.


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s version of the O.O.L.F.(Out of Left Field) Files creeps into the dark and dank cellar to explore the scary and spooky side of our brains and how fear works to manipulate our behavior.

What Is The Limbic System? Definition, Parts, And Functions via Simple Psychology

TED talk Dr. Margee Kerr: Why do we like to be scared? (2018)

5 Things You Never Knew About Fear from Northwestern Medicine

Smithsonian Magazine


Hidden Brain podcast The Science of Fear (2015)


Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic Nervous System


And finally, where would Spooky & Scary Science Month be if I didn’t include my scariest movie scene of all time?

(Thank you, John Carpenter for understanding how my lizard brain works!)