It’s time for a #textbookrevolution

This week we kick off the #textbookrevolution, a movement to end the high cost of textbooks. Here is the #textbookrevolution manifesto in 75 seconds.

The #textbookrevolution manifesto

At South African universities, less than half of students buy textbooks.
They are too often expensive, out of stock, hard to find, and longer than necessary.
This must change.
The culprit? The supply chain: printing + shipping + warehousing + wastage + retail = 70% of the price.
That’s crazy. There is a better way.
Textbooks can be printed on demand in any copy shop quickly and legally.
Legal copy-shop printouts cut textbook prices by up to 40%.
And publishers and authors still get paid the same.
This could save R1000 for every student in South Africa.
That’s a billion rand every year to spend on more important things, like food and housing.
It’s time for a #textbookrevolution.
Lecturers and authors: Insist that publishers put textbooks on Paperight.
Universities: scrap monopolies for campus bookstores.
Students: spread the word.
#textbookrevolution

 

The thinking behind the #textbookrevolution

There are a million university students in South Africa. Their textbooks are very expensive, because the supply chain for textbooks is bloated: it accounts for 70% of the retail price of most paper textbooks. (I include printing in the supply chain, since a publisher’s primary output is a print-ready PDF: everything after that is the supply chain.)

In theory, ebooks would solve this problem, but ebooks present many challenges of their own, including high setup costs, poor reader software, clumsy DRM, the need to buy with a credit card, and device and data costs. Many students simply prefer paper.

Paperight shortens the supply chain by replacing traditional retail, printing, shipping, warehousing and wastage with a simple copy-shop print-out. This could save most students up to 40% off their textbook bill – that’s thousands of rands every year per student.

Here’s an example using an 800-page crown-format textbook that normally sells for R500. Traditionally:

  • The retailer, printer, shipping companies, warehousing, and wastage provisions eat up about R350.
  • The traditional supply chain pays the publisher about R150, which covers all their costs and the author’s royalties.

On Paperight:

  • The copy shop pays a licence fee of, say, R200. The publisher earns R160 after Paperight’s 20% commission.
  • The copy shop prints out and ring-binds the book, shrunk imperceptibly and placed two-up on 200 double-sided sheets, for R120.
  • The copy shop charges the student the total, R320, saving them R180 (36%).

There are never stock shortages, these ring-bound books lie flat while studying, and they’re often easier to mark up with notes and highlights.

In the end, our message is simple: it’s time for a #textbookrevolution: textbooks don’t need a bloated supply chain – they can and should be cheaper. That revolution starts with Paperight.

What are some real student examples?

Yazeed Peters works full-time and is studying part-time through UNISA. He’s studying economics, accounting, customer service and marketing. He needs six textbooks that together cost at least R2240. If they were available from Paperight outlets, he’d pay only R1310, and save R930 – a saving of over 40%.

Tshegofatso Masha is studying first-year civil engineering at UCT. He’ll do twenty courses this year, for which he needs to buy 7 textbooks. In a store, he’d pay about R7175 for these. If they were available on Paperight, he’d pay R5126, saving R2049 – 29%. And that includes the cost of printing out a 1000-page, full-colour, A4 textbook. With Paperight, he’d only have to print what he needed from it, saving even more money.

Philippa Dewey is studying final-year law at UCT. The seven books she’s prescribed would cost R4300 normally. From Paperight outlets they would cost her only R2500. She’d save R1800, 42% of her textbook bill.

In every case here, the publisher still earns the equivalent of 30% of the retail price of the traditional book, which for many publishers matches current gross margins including equivalent royalties in rand terms.

How does Paperight work in stores?

A student walks into a copy shop, asks for a textbook, and the copy shop prints and ring-binds it within hours or even minutes. Every page includes the names of the student, copy shop, and publisher, and the date of purchase.

How is this possible? We work with publishers to provide an online library of books that copy shops can legally print out. For each print-out, they pay a licence fee from a pre-paid account. The copy shop makes money from the printing.

Publishers can set their licence fees to make the same gross margin they’ve always made (about 30% of the retail price for most publishers). Paperight gets a 20% commission on the licence fees.

So, by replacing traditional printing, warehousing, shipping, wastage and retail with a simple copy-shop print-out, we can reduce final cost of a textbook by 40%, with no loss to the publisher.

This is nothing short of a revolution in textbook delivery, dramatically reducing the overall cost of tertiary education.

If, starting today, we could save every university student in South Africa R1000 a year, then at current inflation and enrolment-growth rates, by 2030 we’d have saved them a total of R52 billion.

What are our challenges?

To make this saving a reality, we are up against four key challenges.

Publishers mistrust copy shops after years of rampant piracy. Even though Paperight distribution is logically better than having your books photocopied anonymously, publishers struggle to overcome their long-standing unease. As a result, they are reluctant to put core textbooks on Paperight.

Copy shops have to learn new tricks, especially how to promote books. They also have to train their staff members on how to use paperight.com. We do broad PR and provide promotional materials and support, but ultimately they have to do the local legwork.

University bookshops have exclusivity on campus. Usually, only one retailer is allowed to sell textbooks on campus – potentially preventing copy shops on campus from selling Paperight print-outs. In theory, this secured market should help bookstores give better service to students. In practice, it creates a sheltered monopoly with no competition effects.

Lecturers don’t enjoy changing the books they prescribe. But to make textbooks much cheaper for their students – to improve purchase rates and student performance – they need to choose books that are on Paperight, or pressure publishers into putting their books on Paperight. Lecturers are the most powerful customers in the textbook industry.

What are we asking of people?

Each player in the textbook ecosystem has a part to play in the #textbookrevolution.

Lecturers who prescribe books are the most influential people in publishing – they have tremendous power to change things for the better. We want them to ask publishers to sell their prescribed books through Paperight, too.

Students are at the heart of the #textbookrevolution, it matters to them more than anyone. So we’re asking them to spread the word that there’s a better way.

University administrators can grease the wheels by getting campus copy shops and book shops to join Paperight; they can distribute tutorials through our network; and use their mailing lists to tell people about the #textbookrevolution.

Authors want more people to read their books for less (while still earning royalties). We want them to ask you, as publishers, to sell their books through Paperight, too. (We also offer publishers and published authors telephonic advice on structuring royalties for Paperight sales.)

The big picture

The #textbookrevolution is bigger than Paperight: there are many other ways that publishing can reduce its bloated supply chain to cut the cost of tertiary education. That’s why we’re not calling this the #paperightrevolution. We just want to play our part, alongside others, in getting more students through university well-educated.

We’re deeply grateful to the publishers and copy shops that have already joined the #textbookrevolution, even though many have only taken baby steps so far.

We need many, many more allies to make this a reality. Please spread the word: it’s time for a #textbookrevolution.

Sales Executive wanted

Printing with Paperight at Minuteman PressAt Paperight, we’re revolutionising the way books are distributed, slashing prices and eliminating delays for high schools and university students especially.

We need a sales go-getter on our team. You’ll help organisations (like schools, non-profits and businesses) buy books in bulk from our network. You’ll save them thousands of rands, and make a difference in the world at the same time.

We want to know about you if:

  • you’re great with people
  • you can chase a lead and close a deal (you have real experience making large sales)
  • you want to change the world.

This is a full-time, fixed-term contract position with a basic plus commission. You’ll be on the road a lot, working from our office in Claremont, Cape Town.

How to apply

Send a covering letter (as an email) to team@paperight.com. In your letter, tell us about you and why you want to join us. Attach a CV or include a link to an online resumé (e.g. a full LinkedIn profile).

Remember: we are much more interested in the cover letter, so make it count. Be yourself, be passionate, don’t make spelling mistakes, and show that you’ve researched our company! In other words, only apply if you really want to work with us.

We’ll then have a phone conversation with people we think may be a good fit.

There is no closing date. So apply before someone else does! We’ll update this post to say when the position is filled.

This post has been edited from its original version to reflect our current needs.

We love Top Copy

Top Copy's Paperight window dresssingWe love Top Copy‘s amazing window-dressing here, advertising Paperight books and exam packs for matric students. There are several schools in the area, and this window, facing a busy corner, is sure to attract attention and drive business. It’s eye-catching, very clear about which titles are on offer, and includes prices (very good ones, too).

 

Film production intern

UPDATE 4 Sept 2013: Wow, that went fast. Excellent applications, and we’re excited to say that Shaun Swingler will be joining us in this role imminently. ALSO: If you’re a young aspiring filmmaker and want to volunteer to make your own videos about the Paperight network, let us know anyway. It won’t be an internship, but we’d love your help to tell great stories about making the world a bookier place.

At Paperight, we’re putting bookstores where they’ve never gone before, turning copy shops into the print-on-demand book shops of the future, from downtown Joburg to the rural Eastern Cape.

It would be awesome if we could show you videos of that, but we don’t have any. So, heck, come help us make some!

We need a brilliant young intern to join our team making videos and taking pictures of everything Paperight: including events (like our upcoming anthology launch), interviews with our copy shops and publishers, meetings, and website screencasts for our help site and blog. We want loads of footage, lots of powerful stills, and a bunch of beautifully edited videos that tell our story, and the stories of our members and beneficiaries.

You don’t have to have a specific qualification, but you’re probably someone who has a camera on your face more often than you don’t.

You’ll need to:

  • show us a range of videos you’ve already made;
  • be friendly, brave and smart, and
  • be able to get around, either by car or as a public-transport guru.

We offer interns a small monthly payment for internships over two to six months (depending on what works for you and us), a wonderful office environment, and the chance to learn a lot about the business of publishing. We promise you’ll finish smarter, stronger, and well-set for a career working on stuff that matters.

The internship will be based at our offices in Claremont, Cape Town.

To apply, send a covering letter to team@paperight.com telling us about you and explaining why you want to join us. Attach a CV or include a link to an online resumé (e.g. a full LinkedIn profile), and some video and photography of yours. The cover letter is really important, so make it count. If you have a blog or Twitter account, let us know – an outward-looking life, online or otherwise, scores extra points. We’ll then have a phone conversation with people we think may be a good fit.

There is no closing date. We’ll update this post to say when the position is filled.

Paperight and Riso Africa empower schools to print their own textbooks

Press release: 27 August 2013

Paperight and Riso Africa are making it easy for schools to print their own textbooks.

Despite the efforts of publishers and government, many schools still don’t receive enough textbooks for learners. And many matrics have no easy access to past exam papers and study guides for revision. Speaking to the Mail & Guardian recently, one teacher explained that “In my 12 years of teaching in Senekal, there has not been a year in which learners had all the textbooks they needed. This is why the system continues to produce learners who can’t read and write.”

By empowering schools to print their own textbooks, Paperight enables teachers and parents to take action themselves. Schools with a paperight.com account can download and print books as needed, for instance when topping up shortfalls in setwork books or providing learners with extra study guides.

Printing learning materials through Paperight is completely legal. “Publishers really want to solve the problem of access to books in South Africa,” explains Arthur Attwell, founder of Paperight. “So they allow our network of schools and copy shops to print out books in return for a small licence fee.”

Working with Riso, that possibility becomes even more attractive. “Riso and Paperight is sparking nothing less than a revolution”, says Sonia Anderson, Marketing & Environmental Manager for Riso Africa. “Our ComColor machines let schools print out textbooks for less than their retail price, bound and in full colour. A 600-page textbook prints and binds in 6 minutes.”

A teacher can use paperight.com to print books on a Riso printer

“We’re also excited about working with Riso because of their environmental pedigree,” says Attwell. “Riso machines require very little power, making them among the greenest in the world. They’ll even run off a UPS, making them perfect for schools where electricity is unreliable.”

Under the terms of the Paperight deal, Riso will contribute towards the publishers’ licence fees on behalf of schools that use their machines. Schools that enter into a contract with Riso Africa will receive a pre-paid paperight.com account, which they can use to legally print books, including study guides and past matric exam papers. Paperight already offers over 1700 different books, including titles from Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press.

In February, Paperight was officially congratulated by Parliament, whose endorsement “acknowledges the importance of making published works easily accessible to millions of people throughout Africa; and … encourages publishers to register with Paperight in making their works accessible to all.”

Contact us to find out more.

Improving our privacy policy

Any time you use a website, it gathers info about you (it’s often also called ‘user data’). Sometimes quite a lot of info. So good web businesses have a public policy explaining what info they gather and how they use it. It’s usually called a privacy policy.

We published our privacy policy a year ago. We were still figuring out how best to do this, and over the last year we’ve talked and received feedback about our first version. We’re now making some changes to improve it, mainly to the parts that apply to publishers.

None of the changes mean that we gather more info or use it in new ways. The changes only clarify what we do in better terms, so that our publishing partners can rest assured that we’re being sensible with their info. Continue reading

Updates to our publisher agreement

Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot, changed some of the ways we work, and gathered a lot of feedback from publishers about our standard publisher agreement. So it’s time to update the agreement accordingly. From today, the new agreement is live on our site. It’s effective immediately for publishers joining us from today, and takes effect after fourteen days for existing Paperight publishers.

We want to be completely open about our agreement, and give you a chance to go through the changes in detail, should you have the time and patience for that! So here it is, with the changes marked. Wording we’ve removed is struck through, and new wording is in bold. And after each change I’ve included our reasoning for it.

Continue reading

Client services internship

At Paperight, we’re passionate about increasing access to books. We want to put every book within walking distance of every home. That’s our big, hairy, audacious goal. To do it, we’re turning regular old copy shops into the book shops of the future. Walk into one, and get your book printed while you wait. Anywhere, from downtown Joburg to rural villages in the Eastern Cape.

So we help copy shops become great booksellers. We need a brilliant young intern to join our team doing that. We need to phone and visit outlets every day, finding out how they work and how we can help, for instance by distributing posters and flyers, helping them with our website, and working with community media to promote them.

You don’t have to have a specific degree or qualification for this. You do need to be friendly, brave, smart, and want to make the world a bookier place.

We offer interns a small monthly payment for internships over two to six months (depending on what works for you and us), a wonderful office environment, and the chance to learn a lot about the business of publishing. We promise you’ll finish smarter, stronger, and well-set for a career working on stuff that matters.

The internship will be based at our offices in Claremont, Cape Town.

To apply, send a covering letter to team@paperight.com telling us about you and explaining why you want to join us. Attach a CV or include a link to an online resumé (e.g. a full LinkedIn profile). We are much more interested in the cover letter, so make it count. If you have a blog or Twitter account, let us know – an outward-looking life, online or otherwise, scores extra points. We’ll then have a phone conversation with people we think may be a good fit.

There is no closing date. We’ll update this post to say when the position is filled.

Finally: A5 books from Paperight

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:

A5 selector on paperight.com

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.

A tweak to our outlet terms

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.