is buddypress needed for a publishing site?

hey. so ... i've got a theme that needs customization in order for buddypress to work; to the tune of $450. which isn't bad, but i'm in a budgeting place right now and trying to be judicious.

here's the thing: I have a multisite which is designed (at first) to be a publishing house for various Authors whose works are shown on individual sites within the multisite. In the beginning, I simply need to be able to sell their works through the site and allow the Authors to communicate.

also, i'd like to have Protected Content. Does that require buddypress?

what it really comes down to is, can I avoid using buddypress for the time being while creating a publishing site with Authors being able to communicate with one another?