All posts by Arthur Attwell

Paperight services

Instant photocopy-licensing: an important step for publishing

This week, we’re adding a new service to Paperight: we want to make it really fast and easy for anyone to make a legal photocopy of a book.

Why is that important?

Every single day, in thousands of institutions worldwide, teachers and students photocopy books. Ask almost any author or publisher, and they’ll tell you it’s terrible, and that photocopying is illegal and shouldn’t happen.

But still it does. All the time. Why?

Photocopying is easier, faster and cheaper than almost any other way to get a book.

Photocopying is easier, faster and cheaper than almost any other way to get a book. It’s easier, faster and cheaper than buying online, phoning or visiting bookstores, and waiting for delivery. Have you ever tried to buy a copy of a slightly obscure book? Or been the last student to get to the campus bookstore? Then you know that the books you need are often nowhere to be found.

Aren’t ebooks supposed to fix this? If you factor in the overheads of ereading (device, data, electricity, credit card), photocopying can even be easier, faster and cheaper than ebooks – and that’s assuming the book you need is available as an ebook in the first place, and that you’d be happy to study from a screen.

The photocopier may be the single biggest distribution mechanism in the world of books.

The photocopier may be the single biggest distribution mechanism in the world of books. It’s almost certainly the most widespread. Photocopying is not going to go away. It’s a big, old elephant in the room.

Collecting agencies

‘So, what if I really want to stay legal,’ I hear you ask, ‘or I really want to pay the author for their work – can’t I just pay someone a fee and make a legal photocopy?’

Sure. But you have to track down its rights manager and ask for permission first. That might take a few days or weeks. At which point they’ll ask you what you’re going to use the copy for. Then they’ll put you in a pre-defined category, tell you how much to pay and send you a contract to sign. So, basically, it’ll take you an indefinite amount of time and effort to pay an unknown amount of money. That’s if anyone replies to your mail.

Right now, many publishers choose not think about this, because it gives them a headache. If you ask a publisher, many will tell you they already have a plan to make legal photocopying possible: collecting agencies. A collecting agency is an organisation that collects licence fees from people making photocopies. They collect the fees then pay them on to publishers (keeping a reasonable commission). In South Africa, our collecting agency is DALRO.

Collecting agencies are ingenious, and run by lovely people. The problem is, collecting agencies have some big problems.

There is almost zero diversity in the way that copying licences are sold. As a result, there is almost zero innovation, and no competition.

Firstly, they are a monopoly. Most countries have only one collecting agency for books (there are others for creative works like music), and most of those collaborate under the IFFRO banner. The intention is to make things easy: copiers and publishers can all use the same service. The problem is that this has resulted in a licensing monoculture. There is almost zero diversity in the way that copying licences are sold. As a result, there is almost zero innovation, and no competition.

Second, working with them is full of delays: admin, correspondence, contracts, and a fair amount of legalese that slows you down. Almost nothing is instant – and we live in a world of automation where we expect transactions to be instant. These days, by the time we know we need a book, we’re out of time to find it. We need it now. And so the photocopy room is our friend.

Let’s say you know you’re going to be doing a lot of photocopying. You can have an ongoing agreement with DALRO, where every few months you send them a list of everything you’ve photocopied, and they bill you. That’s called a ‘blanket licence’. It involves a long, complicated legal contract and ongoing billing and reporting requirements. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Only big institutions like large universities are really set up to handle it. And then the university has to have lots of internal rules and processes for making sure everyone uses the system correctly. (Anecdotally, we’ve been told that lecturers at local universities often don’t follow these processes when they prescribe photocopied readings.)

On the other hand, let’s say you just want to make one or two photocopies, and your institution doesn’t have a blanket licence. Maybe you’re a teacher at a primary school, and you want to make twenty quick copies of a novella for your grade sevens. You need a ‘transactional licence’: once-off photocopying permission. For that, you have to contact DALRO each time you want to photocopy, and wait for an email back.

…they’ll only give you permission to copy up to 10 per cent of the book

Oh, and there’s this: they’ll only give you permission to copy up to 10 per cent of the book. As DALRO’s website explains, ‘DALRO may not allow the reproduction of whole books, either by a transactional licence or under a blanket licence. It’s unlawful to reproduce a whole book instead of buying it.’  You really need to copy more of the book? Elsewhere on their site, they elaborate: ‘If the book was published by a local publisher, DALRO will contact the publisher and request a licence for the larger portion. If the book was published by a foreign publisher, DALRO cannot process it but puts the licensee in touch with the foreign rights holder.’ That’ll take a while. The 10 per cent restriction is a real pain.


Almost no one knows all this. It’s complicated stuff made worse by its grey areas. Look around online and you’ll struggle to find anything really clear about copyright and photocopying.

For instance, this common FAQ: ‘Am I allowed to photocopy part of a book for my own personal and private use? Copyright [in South Africa] is not infringed by any fair dealing with a literary work for the purposes of the personal or private use of the work by the person making the copy.  What is “fair” in any given situation will always depend on the circumstances of that situation.’

Is it fair that I can’t complete my studies because I can’t find or afford the textbook I’m prescribed?

So who decides about my circumstances? Is it fair that I can’t complete my studies because I can’t find or afford the textbook I’m prescribed? Depends what you mean by ‘fair’. ‘Fair dealing’ is actually a technical legal term whose uncertain meaning differs from country to country, and which laypeople can’t be expected to understand.

Grey areas attract legalese, because no one can really explain in plain language what’s going on. And if something can’t be made plain to laypeople, it will be ignored as if it were never there. If publishers want people to care about copyright, they’ve got to simplify the way people encounter it.

Easy, fast and cheap

Publishers could grasp the massive opportunity that photocopying represents: a huge book-distribution industry that should be generating revenue from licence fees, but doesn’t because licensing is absurdly complicated and slow.

…school teachers, college lecturers, librarians, church secretaries, HR managers, government officials. They and their institutions are legally exposed

I’m not talking about students queuing at the local copy shop, they’re not going to start paying licence fees any time soon (there are other ways to tackle that issue). I’m talking about the people who work at institutions: school teachers, college lecturers, librarians, church secretaries, HR managers, government officials. They and their institutions are legally exposed, and don’t want to get into trouble for breaking the law. Many of them would really like to do the right thing.

The only way forward is to make it easy, fast and cheap for them to make a legal photocopy of an entire book. ‘Fast’ as in ‘instant’ by today’s standards. ‘Easy’ as in:

  • I can be anyone
  • I open a website
  • I pay a fee by card or EFT
  • I print a licence to keep with my photocopy.

If it can’t be done in five minutes, then it’s not fast and it’s not easy.

Paperight and beyond

That’s what we’ve built: buying a once-off photocopy licence on is genuinely fast and easy.

We don’t have many books listed yet: that will be up to publishers. We’re talking to them, and we hope they’ll list their books with us very soon. It’s simple for them to do, and takes almost no effort. (Existing contracts with authors allow reprographic rights deals – the same ones they make with DALRO – and collecting agencies don’t require exclusivity.) It’s also the best way to give out-of-print books a new lease on life, especially at colleges and universities that want to prescribe them.

So is this really just a long pitch for your business? Yes and no. I’d love for everyone to use Paperight for photocopy licensing (and for print-on-demand, our original service).

Competition would raise the bar. And to prove we’re serious, we’ve made the entire website engine open-source.

But I’d love even more to have competitors offering the same thing. Competition would raise the bar. And to prove we’re serious, we’ve made the entire website engine open-source. That means that if anyone else wants to run their own version of under their own brand name, they can go ahead. (Grab the code here. It doesn’t include the books we list, we’re not allowed to share those.) And for anyone who wants to bring Paperight to their country, we’ll split revenue equally, so that we can grow this initiative together.

Updating our publisher and outlet agreements

UPDATE, 21 August 2014: Read more here about why we’re making these changes.

In a short while, we’ll be rolling out a major new addition to our service: the ability to get a licence to make a legal photocopy of a book. We’ll say lots more later about why that’s a huge step for publishing.

For now, we’re updating our standard agreements with publishers and outlets to accommodate the new service. Importantly: if you don’t actually use our photocopy-licensing service, nothing changes for you. The updates to the agreement only add some wording to cover the use of the new service. But of course we hope you will use it.

I’ll explain in detail what exactly we’ve changed in each agreement. I’ll quote the paragraphs we’ve changed, strikeout words we’ve removed, and put new wording in bold.

Outlet agreement

Our first update is to the opening section where we describe how Paperight works:

Paperight acts as an agent between publishers and outlets. Its website creates instant printing and photocopying licences between publishers (or rightsholders of other kinds) and outlets, which are printing businesses and other organisations such as copy shops.
As an outlet user (e.g. a member of staff at a copy shop), when a customer asks you for a book from Paperight:

  1. find the book on
  2. fill in the customer’s details and what you’ll charge them in addition to our licence and service fee
  3. click ‘buy now’ to get your licence
  4. click ‘download’ to download the PDF or photocopying licence and print it out
  5. for photocopying licences, stamp and sign the licence page and bind it with the photocopy
  6. delete the PDF from your computer to prevent unauthorised distribution.

This is pretty obvious: we’ve added references to photocopy licensing.

Because we expect photocopy-licensing to be used mostly by schools and colleges, we’ve broadened the description of outlets to include ‘other organisations’, not just copy shops.

The most important addition is step 5: you must print, stamp and sign the photocopy licence page and bind it with the photocopy. That way, each photocopy comes with original proof that it’s a fully legal photocopy.

Next, we’ve made small changes to the ‘Definitions’ section:

Publishers (or other rightsholders) have appointed Paperight as an agent to provide specific printing licences to outlets to print or photocopy the books listed on

In the ‘Termination’ section, a one-word change, since now licences might be for printing or for photocopying:

You may close your account from your dashboard on, either by disabling the entire account, or by removing your agreement to these outlet terms specifically. While your account is closed or while you have removed your agreement to these outlet terms, the terms of this agreement still apply to existing print licences (i.e. licences you have already acquired) and any monies owing between the parties.

In the ‘Licences’ section, we’ve changed a few words:

All documents on and from Paperightlisted on are subject to copyright. That means you cannot make any extra copies without a new licence (unless specified otherwise on the document itself).

That change was just for clarity, it doesn’t change meaning. The next few changes to wording are also just for clarity:

When you download a Paperight document or a photocopy licence, by default you have a licence to print that document once. If one customer needs multiple copies, include multiple copies in your licence when you buy it. Then you are allowed to print the document that number of times for that customer. (E.g. if when purchasing you select ‘Number of copies: 3′, you may print that document 3 times for that same customer.)
You must provide the customer’s full name every time you buy a licence. If the customer is an institution, include the name of their representative (such as the person placing the order with you).
On PDFs from, the customer’s name will then appear on each page of their document, along with a unique tracking code. We recommend including the customer’s phone number as well, so that you can contact them if needed, and uniquely identify them among other customers with the same name.
You must not reprint one customer’s document for another customer.
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 files you have downloaded. You may not give or sell the digital files to anyone.

In the ‘Credits’ section, a tiny change for clarity:

Credits are pegged in value to the US dollar, but are not necessarily converted at a 1:1 rate. Any amounts shown on in your local currency are approximate currency conversions for that day forfrom credits to dollars and from dollars to your currency. The actual amounts that your bank or credit-card provider charge you may differ slightly, and may include service and currency-conversion charges.

In the ‘Marketing’ section, we’ve made a small change to accommodate our new, broader service:

An outlet may advertise its book-printing Paperight-related services, and it may refer to Paperight in its marketing messages and materials. The word ‘Paperight’ must be correctly spelled. You may not use the Paperight logo, or try to reproduce it in any form, without the written permission of Paperight.

That’s it. As you can see, we like to keep things simple.

Publisher agreement

Our first change is to add a reference to photocopy-licensing to the ‘Definitions’ section:

Paperight is a service that lets publishers sell licences to registered outlets. These licences allow the outlets to print and sell copies of the Rightsholder’s documents, which Paperight provides to them as watermarked PDFs, and/or allows them to legally photocopy the Rightsholder’s documents under license. Paperight is only one of the channels that a publisher might use to make its works available, and does not claim to be exclusive.

In the ‘Term and termination’ section, some small changes to accommodate photocopy-licensing:

Either party may suspend or terminate this agreement by notifying the other in writing with 14 days notice. If that happens, outstanding earnings owed to the Rightsholder will still be paid according to the Compensation terms below. Watermarked documents and photocopy licences may still be available to print through the Paperight system during the notice period.
Paperight will take reasonable steps to ensure that the Rightsholder’s documents are not available for licensing, download or purchase by outlets or their customers by the termination date.

The main changes are to the ‘Operating policies and procedures’ section, where we now make clear distinctions between our existing print-on-demand service and our new photocopy-licensing service, and explain how you choose to use each one.

Paperight provides print-on-demand distribution and photocopy licensing.

  • Print-on-demand distribution: The Rightsholder will provide documents and document metadata to Paperight for distribution via For distribution to registered outlets, Paperight will resize these documents and place them on new page sizes (such as A4), along with fineprint containing selected details of each licence, including the names of the Rightsholder, the outlet, and the outlet’s customer, and the date of the licence. The Rightsholder may specify which documents should and should not be made available to outlets at any time, and in which countries.
  • Photocopy-licensing: The Rightsholder will provide document metadata to Paperight for listing on The Rightsholder may specify which documents should and should not be made available for licensed photocopying to outlets at any time, and in which countries.

In the metadata for each document, the Rightsholder will elect to allow print-on-demand distribution and/or photocopy licensing.

In the ‘Responsibilities of Rightsholder and Paperight’ section, we’ve added some wording to reflect the difference between print-on-demand and photocopy-licensing in the outlets’ responsibilities:

Customer’s full name, every time: An outlet must provide the customer’s full name (e.g. first and last name) each time it buys a licence. When printing on demand, the customer’s name will then appear on each page of their document, along with a unique tracking code. An outlet may not re-print one customer’s document for another customer.

In the ‘Licences’ section, a phrase for clarity that includes photocopy-licensing:

When a registered outlet requests a licence to print or copy a copyright work (e.g. a book, journal or document) on, they are automatically granted a license by the Rightsholder to reproduce and distribute the requested copyright works which the Rightsholder has made available through Paperight.

All done. Thanks for trawling through that. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know.

Matrics: get exam practice more cheaply, more easily

If you’re in matric, or have a child in matric, you’re getting nervous about exams. We’d like to help:

1. Zero licence fees on past-exam packs. This means Paperight outlets can now print and sell past exam papers from 2008 to 2012 without paying us a cent. This will mean cheaper exam practice, and no need to buy credits before downloading.

2. Order by email. Find the exam pack you want, pick your nearest and cheapest outlet, and click the ‘Order by email’ button. That will launch an email message in your default email program, prefilled with that product’s details. Just hit send and the outlet will get your request by email.

'Order by email' button screenshot
Click ‘Order by email’ to open a pre-filled email message to the outlet

Good luck to all matrics! If you have any questions, email us or find us on Facebook.

Paperight welcomes Open Book Publishers

Peace and Democratic SocietyOpen Book Publishers are reinventing academic publishing, making it fairer, faster and more accessible. Their ideals are our ideals, so we’re thrilled to be working with them.

You can now get their wonderful books from any Paperight outlet, including Peace and Democratic Society, edited by Nobel Prizewinning economist Amartya Sen.

Click here to see the full list.


200 top South African books hit Paperight

The+Shining+GirlsWhen I set out to build Paperight, I imagined having best-selling, new South African fiction and non-fiction in our library, so that South Africans everywhere could get their hands on it.

Even though it took several years to get there, I’m ecstatic that we’ve just released over 200 books from leading publisher Random House Struik, including showstoppers like The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human, and Of Cops and Robbers by Mike Nicol. There’s loads more, have a look here.

As I write this, I’m sitting at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, a highlight of the South African literary year. An underlying – and often openly expressed – anxiety at the festival is our industry’s dependence on perhaps two million wealthy book buyers, who buy their books from glitzy stores in suburban malls. By working with Paperight, the team at Random House Struik have taken an important step towards real change. We sincerely hope others will follow in their footsteps.

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.


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 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.

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 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 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 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 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