Due to a last-minute influx of over 1000 entries, we still have not finalised or notified any successful entrants for the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology. We’re working through the entries and will notify successful entrants as soon as we humanly can!
Need a little bit of help navigating the Paperight website? We’ve got something for you.
The new Paperight help video covers the entire Paperight registration process, how to top up an account with credits (including the 2 different payment options), the process of finding a document, buying the license and how to download. The option to change general account settings is shown, including how to add another user or multiple users to the account.
It’s the first in a series of simple help videos that should answer your basic queries and concerns about getting the Paperight website to work well and efficiently for you.
Want to suggest something for us to cover in our next video? Feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve asked us for books in A5 format before, you’ll be relieved to know we can finally say yes! We know that A5 books are easier to read, nicer to own, and therefore better to promote in your copy shop.
Till now, Paperight outlets have only been able to download A4 documents for printing. Most come two-up (two pages on one side of paper), which is very quick and cheap to print, but can’t be cut in half to make a neat little A5 book, because the page imposition doesn’t work.
A4 is great for educational books and course readers. And A5 is best for books like novels, biographies, and many children’s books.
We’ve now improved our software and processes to allow for A5 documents. When buying print licences on paperight.com, look for the option to download A5, not A4. Click the icon at A5 to make it green:
Once downloaded, you can print these A5 documents using your print driver’s ‘booklet’ print setting.
It will take us some time to add the A5 option to all of our books. Our content team has to prepare over a thousand A5 documents for this, and it’ll take some time to get to them all. So if the A5 option isn’t yet available for the book you need to print, let us know and we’ll push that book to the front of the queue.
We like our outlet and publisher terms to be as short and sweet as possible. But sometimes we have to add more text just to be crystal clear about something. So, we’ve added one short paragraph to our outlet terms about how you manage those PDF files you download from paperight.com.
Each licence only allows you to print out a document once, and to sell that print-out to a customer. Once you have printed a document, you must delete all copies of the digital file. You may not give or sell the digital file to anyone.
That’s been added to the section on ‘Licences’. As you can see, it doesn’t change anything about the way we or you work, it just makes things absolutely clear. You can read the whole agreement here.
Around the country, staff at our member copy shops are selling books. Many haven’t sold books before, and they’re already good at it. We want to reward these star print-on-demand booksellers with a prize.
So every month from May till December 2013, we’re going to give R1000 to the user at a Paperight outlet who sells the most books.
How to enter
Now remember: if everyone in your copy shop uses one Paperight login, we don’t know who among you is the best bookseller. So, make sure you register each staff member as a separate user on your outlet’s Paperight account.
To do this, log in and go to ‘Settings’. At the bottom of the page under ‘Company management’, you’ll see your shop and the users you have registered already.
Click ‘Add user’ under your shop’s name.
Each user must have their own email address. And they must click the account-activation link in the email they receive after being added. From then on, they’ll be able to log in with their own details. And we’ll know when they sell a book themselves.
We’ll announce the winner for each month in the first week of the following month, once we’ve checked everyone’s sales.
- Free documents do not count towards your sales (e.g. Quirk Emarketing and College Campus guides) – that would make it too easy to cheat!
- You must include your customer’s first and last names on every purchase.
- The competition is only for South African shops (sorry guys).
The winner will be the user who has downloaded the most books for printing. If there’s a tie, the winner is the user whose documents cost the most in credits. If that’s tied, the winner is the user who entered the most customer phone numbers.
You must be willing to have your name and photo on our blog if you win. We want to spread the news!
I enjoyed chatting on email to Genevieve Vieira of The Citizen recently for her story about Paperight. Here’s the full text of the interview.
How and when did you first come up with the concept for Paperight?
At Electric Book Works (my other company), we’d been trying to use ebooks to make reading easier and more affordable for people. But it wasn’t working, there are too many barriers to online access for most people. During a research project into print-on-demand, I realised that the smallest book-printing factory is a copy shop – and copy shops were everywhere, run by ambitious entrepreneurs across Africa. It was suddenly so obvious that they should be bookstores!
Has something similar been attempted in the past?
Nothing on this scale. There have been attempts to print newspapers and maps and sometimes books on-demand in stores, but they’ve always required very expensive machines. Our solution works on any old printer, so any printing business can participate, and we can reach far more people.
Was it challenging to set up an agreement with publishers in this regard?
For most publishers, yes. There have been shining exceptions: publishers who understand immediately that their role in society is to spread knowledge, and Paperight is a viable way to do that properly. But others have struggled to get over their mistrust of copy shops, to realise that copy-shop entrepreneurs want to be their allies and business partners. We’re getting there, though: after a long journey, more and more publishers are getting excited about the possibility of putting every book within walking distance of every home.
Do authors understand the necessity of something like Paperight?
Every author wants more than anything for their books to be read. The old book distribution system just doesn’t encourage that: less than 2 million South Africans buy books regularly. Authors feel that and it saddens them. Every author I’ve spoken to loves the idea that we can make their books available on every street corner.
Will publishers be losing out on profit?
Not at all. That’s the real beauty of Paperight: publishers can often make the same gross margins from Paperight sales as they do from conventional bookstores. Plus, they reach far more people: if they then sell more copies than before, they can lower their prices over time. They can finally break out of this tiny, suburban market they’ve been selling to for all these years.
Why do you think Paperight is so worthwhile in a country like SA?
Like many countries, South Africa is big. We can’t afford to ship regular books everywhere. And most South Africans don’t have Internet access. By turning any copier-printer into a book factory, every copy shop into a book shop, we can solve a problem today that would take years to fix any other way. Schools could get their books today. Hospitals can train nurses today. Small entrepreneurs can get helpful business books today.
Can you explain in a few sentences exactly on Paperight works?
Any copy shop can join the Paperight network by signing up for free on paperight.com. They then put a small amount of money (say, R50) in their pre-paid Paperight account. Then they’re ready to print for customers. We provide promotional posters they can print for their shop advertising the service. When a customer asks for a Paperight book, they use paperight.com to download and print it out on the spot. The make their usual printing fee, and we pay the publisher from the copy shop’s pre-paid account.
How many different countries has Paperight been implemented in?
We have a few outlets abroad, in Ghana, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the US – but the vast majority are in South Africa, where we focus our efforts right now. We hope to expand to Kenya and Ghana over the next year.
What will this mean for the future of public libraries for instance?
Libraries are so important for growing reading. So we’re very excited to work with libraries. We’re already talking to library groups about their using Paperight both to stock their own shelves and also to be able to sell patrons books right from the library counter. When you borrow a great book from a library, why shouldn’t you also be able to get your own copy right there to keep?
Do you have a list of outlets that are involved?
The best place to find our 150 outlets is on our site at paperight.com/outlets. We’re very proud that the entire Jetline chain of copy shops are Paperight members.
In his enlightening new book The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures, published by UKZN Press (and regrettably not yet available on Paperight), Archie L. Dick offers us this juicy tidbit of knowledge about how books were shared and circulated in the early days of the Cape colony:
“[...] copying and circulation culture was widespread at the Cape throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth century. Common readers and writers copied and distributed handwritten pietistic works, hymn books, school books, and children’s stories. Even after printing arrived, only one copy of an almanac was sold in each of the Cape’s districts, Lady Anne Barnard complained, because ‘all the inhabitants read or copied out of that one’”. p. 20
So, it seems the twin problems of agreeable circulation methods and of readers pirating texts – and denying publishers their profits – has existed since the advent of the Cape colony, and the city that Paperight happily calls home.
Why, then, has it taken us so long to figure out a permissive solution to the fair Cape’s (and, for that matter, South Africa’s) book circulation woes? It isn’t even a vaguely new problem!
The deal allows over 150 Paperight outlets throughout South Africa to legally print out College Campus materials quickly, cheaply and legally for College Campus students, who primarily study at College Campus’ two locations in Gauteng.
In addition to their Bachelor’s degrees in IT, Business Administration and Commerce, College Campus – a division of the Independent Institute of Education, the largest private provider of higher education in South Africa – offers courses and certificates in sales and marketing, web development, database management, accounting, software programmes and dozens of other fields.
“This is a very exciting partnership for us,” says Arthur Attwell, CEO and founder of Paperight. “For students, Paperight can eliminate all the usual hassles of getting your course material, especially when you live far from campus. Students are sick of bookstores not stocking enough books, and waiting for materials to arrive in the post. College Campus is really making life easier for their students.”
“Our focus at College Campus is to ensure that our tech-savvy and connected students experience seamless education delivery,” says Genevieve Allen, MD of College Campus. “Although we fully support our students, the ethos we try to drive into them is deeper ownership and control of the learning experience which better equips students for the mobile and shifting world of work they will enter. Paperight’s innovative solution on material delivery makes them a perfect partner in this regard.”
In the wake of our win at the London Book Fair this week, Christine Greyvenstein interviewed me for an article on ITWeb. Here’s the full text of that interview, where I talk about how we’re changing the way people buy books in South Africa, and where we’re going in the future.
CG: What exactly does Paperight do and how did the website start off?
AA: In short: Paperight enables any photocopy shop to print out and sell books legally. Photocopy chops are ubiquitous in Africa; they’re little hubs of economic activity. But till now they’ve never been used as legal, print-on-demand bookstores. By making this happen, we’ve put bookstores in places where books have literally never been sold before (like rural Peddie or Khayelitsha’s CBDs), accessible to people who can’t get to bookstores and can’t get online themselves to read or buy books.
The website is just our tool: copy shops have a pre-paid account on paperight.com, and use the site to instantly download books for printing as walk-in customers ask for them. We deduct small licence fees from the shop’s account for each print-out, and pay that to the publishers – less 20% for us.
After three years of research and prototyping, we launched our official site in May 2012. Investment from the Shuttleworth Foundation made that possible.
CG: What benefits does the Paperight service offer?
AA: For copy shops, they get to offer a whole new service to their communities. Already copy shops around the country have earned tens of thousands of rands in extra turnover by using Paperight. For their walk-in customers, the benefits are lower-cost books (on average 20% less than traditional editions) and more importantly, much-reduced accessibility costs: we cut out the travel, delay and frustration of trying to find a book at traditional bookstores, which are often poorly stocked.
For publishers, we offer a new market. People who buy from Paperight outlets are not the same people who buy from Exclusive Books, for instance. We’re creating new readers that will sustain the book industry in the long run. Right now, it’s been estimated that less than two million people buy books regularly in South Africa (excluding school textbooks bought directly by government), and that number isn’t growing fast enough to sustain local bookstores. Our Paperight outlets could reach another 40 million, and that’s just in South Africa.
CG: This is not the first award that Paperight has won, what are some of the others and what are your feelings on the success of the website?
AA: Last year we won a seed grant from the SAB Foundation Innovation Awards, and earlier this year we won ‘Most Entrepreneurial Startup‘ at the prestigious Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York. This week’s Innovation Award at the London Book Fair is a further endorsement of what we’re doing from the international publishing industry.
To be honest, getting there wasn’t easy: I’ve been pitching Paperight to publishers since it was a prototype in 2009, so it’s been a four-year journey to get this recognition. I think, over those years, publishers have become more adventurous, and more aware of their social responsibility to spread the knowledge they curate. And the website we launched last year has made a big difference, too: it’s fast and clear, and we’re improving it all the time.
CG: What are some of the challenges start-ups face in the beginning?
AA: Oh, there are so many and they’re different for everyone. First, it’s hard to literally survive while you’re getting going. Your priorities as founders are very simple: put food on your table, and get sales. Both are hard. It’s lonely making hundreds of decisions every day without any idea of what will and won’t work. Paul Graham has simple advice to startups: “If you can just avoid dying, you get rich. That sounds like a joke, but it’s actually a pretty good description of what happens in a typical startup.” I live by that. We’re not even close to getting rich, but we’re still here, and after all this time the momentum is finally growing.
CG: What are some of Paperight’s plans for the future, building on an already successful concept?
AA: Our first priority is just to get better at what we do, right here in South Africa. We can make a real difference to the delivery and affordability of school and university books, so we’re working with publishers and copy shops on making that happen. And we hope to grow in Kenya and Ghana in particular in the next year.
The deal allows over 150 Paperight outlets throughout South Africa – many in rural villages and poor townships where traditional bookstores do not exist – to legally print out O’Reilly books for their customers on demand. Depending on individual outlet printing prices, books are around 20 per cent less to print at a Paperight outlet. More importantly, customers save time and money by not travelling to distant bookstores, where books may or may not be in stock. Instead, any local copy shop can meet their needs.
The new distribution agreement comes shortly after Paperight was named ‘Most Entrepreneurial Startup’ at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Startup Showcase, held in February in New York City. Paperight also took first place, via popular vote, at the Digital Minds Conference Innovation Showcase this week at London Book Fair.
‘The irony of the digital revolution is that while democratising knowledge production, it has increased the gap between the Internet-haves and have-nots,’ says Arthur Attwell, founder and CEO of Paperight. ‘If you’re not online, you can’t learn about technology, and you can’t close that gap. O’Reilly books on Paperight can change that. Many of our printing outlets directly supply schools and computer training centres, and these books will give them a huge advantage.’
Some of the O’Reilly books that will soon be available on Paperight include Learning Web Design, Programming C# 5.0, and Learning Java. Titles from the Head First series will also be available, including titles focusing on PHP & MySQL, Python and Excel.
“Paperight was one of the most exciting new services featured in the TOC NY Startup Showcase,” says Joe Wikert, General Manager and Chair of Tools of Change (TOC). “They were selected ‘Most Entrepreneurial Startup’ because of the creative solution they’ve developed to convert copy shops into a new distribution channel.”
“We’re pleased that O’Reilly content is being distributed through Paperight and we encourage other publishers to sign up as well,” Wikert adds.