Project 11: London Book Fair 2013: closing report

Aim: Develop contacts and build team expertise by sending content manager to one of the worlds’ main publishing trade fairs.

General report-back

Tarryn-Anne Anderson and Oscar Masinyana attended the 2013 London Book Fair with the mandate of developing publisher relationships and approaching publishers about obtaining their content for sale via Paperight. Additionally, they were to pitch Paperight as part of the Digital Minds Innovation Showcase at the Digital Minds Conference on the day before the fair.

Oscar’s trip was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, as organised by the Publisher’s Association of South Africa. As part of the sponsorship, Paperight was given a table on the South African National Pavilion at the fair. This allowed us a place to meet with publishers, and a space within which to display Paperight-branded materials (our roller-banner for example).

On Sunday the 14th of April, Tarryn gave a presentation on Paperight, developed by her and Oscar, at the Digital Minds Innovation Showcase. The showcase formed part of the Digital Minds Conference, annually held before the London Book Fair, and attended by industry leaders in digital publishing. Paperight was expected to offer a 4-minute pitch, against seven other innovative start-ups in digital publishing. We were selected as the winner of the showcase by popular vote.

At the fair (15th-17th April), we focused on meeting with publishers and building relationships. The overall response to Paperight was very positive. The publishers with whom we met broadly fell into three categories:

  • Those who are already making their material available on Paperight (in order to build upon an existing working relationship).
  • Those who we have already contacted about Paperight, and who are keen, but who have not officially provided us with material or signed contracts (in order to ‘close the deal’, and foster trust).
  • Those who are hearing about Paperight for the first time (in order to build contacts and establish relationships with potential rightsholders).

Objectives achieved

We sent our content manager Tarryn to the London Book Fair to represent Paperight, develop contacts, and learn from being at one of the primary publishing trade fairs in the world.

Tarryn represented Paperight in the Digital Minds Innovation Competition and we were awarded first place . As a result of achieving this award, Paperight has achieved great press.

National Parliament heard about us achieving the award and acknowledged Paperight, officially stating: ‘[An] ingenious solution to widespread book shortages in the developing world [.. The House] congratulates Paperight and encourages publishers to register with Paperight in making their works accessible to all.”

Relationships were started and built with publishers, media and related business.

Meetings and discussions were achieved with the following companies: Valobox, Aleph Trade and Investment, Midas PR, IDEA, The American Book Centre, Mobcast, Elsevier, Profile Books, Harvard University Press, Metro/SelfmadeHero, Higher Education, NECE & SAF Schools Manager, MM Publiscations, Carroll and Brown Publishers, Polity Press, Pluto Press, Bloomsbury, Pearson, Harlequin, Do Sustainability, O’Reilly Media, Benetech, Accent Press, Excite Books, Sweet Cherry Publishing, MEA, PUO Educational Products, My Little Big Town and Ingram Content Group.

Objectives not achieved

Tarryn not only achieved her objectives, she won Paperight a prestigious Innovation award.

Measures of success

Before: “We expect: Tarryn’s confidence and ability to correspond with international publishers is greater, and this rubs off on the team. We’ll continue to learn as an organisation whether the investment in these kinds of trips is worth it, and what we need to do differently in future to increase that value. We further expect that one or more of the publishers Tarryn met with in Frankfurt commits to listing titles with us in the follow-up month to the London fair.”

After: Tarryn engaged with more publishers than she had done at the previous book fair, with many of the publishers instantly expressing and interest to come on board with Paperight. Tarryn also showed a tremendous amount of strength in presenting on behalf of Paperight at the Digital Minds Innovation competition. Twitter feeds were streaming in with people who were impressed with her pitch, and after the event she was met by a number of people who were interested in finding out more. We have no doubt that sending Tarryn to the book fair was great value for money and would definately do the same in the future.

Before: “We would like: To see half a dozen international publishers adding content to Paperight within weeks of meeting Tarryn at the fair. To see lessons learned from the trip continuing to directly affect (or affirm) the way we approach publishers from day to day, from social messaging to direct pitches.”

After: Within the first four weeks after the London Book Fair 30 publishers have signed up with Paperight.

Before: “We would love to see: A dozen international publishers registering and listing titles on Paperight in the weeks following the fair.”

After: We have had one or two international publishers registering with Paperight.


Original budget: R22200

Actual spend: 18660.97

Returned to pool: 3539.03


Item Budget Spent Return to pool Notes
Flight 11500 8168 3332
Hotel 6200 6155.6 44.40
Trains and taxis 1000 688.30 311.70
Food 2250 1497.95 752.05
Fair registration 450 437.31 12.69
Visa 800 1320 -520
Unbudgeted 0 393.81 -393.81 We needed to send couriered documents to PASA and we also celebrated winning  the Digital Minds Innovations Showcase Award
Total 22200 18660.97 3539.03


Outputs and deliverables

[Notes on meetings with publishers redacted because they contain others’ confidential business information.]


Arranging the accommodation as close to the trade fair as possible frees up more time for valuable meetings.

There are still misconceptions in the industry as to what Paperight is all about. Having the opportunity to discuss Paperight and answer concerns in person assisted in reassuring publishers and creating more engaging partnerships.


We have no doubt after the success we have achieved from these trips that It has been very worthwhile to send Tarryn to attend these Book Fairs. Contacts were made which enabled us to sign up publishers that we were not able to sign up before, and at a quicker rate than we did without the meetings. We created a greater awareness in the publishing industry both in South Africa and overseas. The meetings at the book fairs have assisted in creating a valuable trust relationship in the industry while maximising visibility in a short time frame.


We would not hesitate to send Tarryn to more trade fairs.

Next steps

We are approaching the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa to see if we can obtain a grant to send either Tarryn or Oscar to the Frankfurt Book Fair.