Erotica Campaign

In August 2013, we received a batch of saucy titles to upload from publisher Accent Press in the United Kingdom. To coincide with this new import, we brainstormed ideas to promote the titles and attempted to define which customers would want to purchase them. This campaign was to be a way of reaching out to repeat customers who could carry us through the slow seasons, in between main book buying cycles.

a-pinch-of-spice_alcamia-payne_cover_20130901The idea was to hand out 80 free Paperight copies of Accent Press books on UCT campus and ask students to review them for us as part of a PR stunt. As part of this, I put together a questionnaire to streamline the responses we would be getting, asking students, for example, to rate the book as an Erotic or Romantic title, rate the book on a saucy scale of 1 to 5, flag any offensive material within and more. This information would then be used to categorise the books on the website to assist other customers navigating the long list of available titles. We also wanted to ask students to write a short recommendation if they liked the book. After all, recommendations in book stores are proven to drive sales, as I learned in my 4 years working at the Bay Bookshop.

Nick designed a poster to advertise the handout on campus and the handout was scheduled for the 18th of September 2013 on Jammie Plaza.

To ensure that these books would get to students who would be interested in taking part, I contacted Jessica Tiffin of the English Literature department at UCT who runs an annual course for 3rd Years on Erotic Literature called ‘Sex: From Sappho to Cyber”. Jessica was very interested in sending details to students about how they could take part.

this campaign was shelved due to concerns about damaging our growing reputation as a distributor of educational material.

However, this campaign was shelved due to concerns about damaging our growing reputation as a distributor of educational material. At this early stage in Paperight’s lifespan, it was crucial not to alienate any potential supporters for the sake of a quick, provocative campaign. We needed to focus on building our number of repeat customers and South Africa’s predominantly conservative reading public might have taken issue with this content.

Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology 2013: Launch and Promotion

Before the completion of the compilation, I assisted with reading the entries, selecting pieces for publication, shortlisting for category winners (judged externally) and overall proofreading of the Paperight Young Writer’s Anthology 2013 (hereafter referred to as the PYWA). I entered the project as an intern in April 2013, but took over the marketing elements of the project in July 2013 as part of my promotion to the role of Marketing Manager.

On Youth Day, the 16th of June, the PYWA was released. This fantastic publication necessitated my first batch of press releases sent on behalf of Paperight. I sent press releases to:

  • contributing schools to congratulate them on their students’ success and let them know where they could purchase copies
  • outlets close to these schools advising them to promote the PYWA in store and prepare themselves for students looking for copies
  • media contacts, both national and regional, to tell them about the project and the PYWA’s release. We also encouraged them to get back to us to interview Oscar, the Anthology’s editor, or to request a copy for review.

998756_494574667290081_1936338491_nAlong with these press releases, I wrote a Facebook conversation plan in order to give our Paperight fans a taste of what the compilation entries were like. We selected quotes from longer entries, entire poems and illustrations to make beautiful posts (designed by Nick) for Paperight fans and PYWA contributors to share. We also posted stories of our visits to schools in the Western Cape, to hand out certificates to contributors and prizes to category winners. These stories were posted on the Paperight blog, too.

This conversation plan was Paperight’s first ever predetermined conversation plan. It ran from the 31st of July to the 9th of September 2013 (the Monday after the Open Book Festival Launch, mentioned below). It was supposed to end with a call for submissions for the 2014 edition, however, due to a shortage of resources, the project has been indefinitely postponed.

1077233_494957547251793_48523986_oWe used the weekly newsletter to remind outlets to promote the anthology in store by putting up posters and ensuring their staff are prepared to handle queries. In addition, we included links to blog posts on news items about the PYWA to inspire enthusiasm for the title.

This initial push was then followed up in September 2013 with an official book launch at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town. Arthur hosted a panel discussion between Oscar, Nick Mhlongo (author), Hedley Twidle (UCT lecturer) and Sarah Rowan (poet) to discuss the necessity of encouraging writing among South Africa’s young people. Invitations were sent to media contacts asking them to attend the event and offering copies of the Anthology to be reviewed. Copy shop owners and staff in the Western Cape were also encouraged to join the festivities. The event was well attended and led to many sales of the PYWA (perfect bound copies printed by Mega Digital) through the Book Lounge.


The Open Book Festival launch was filmed and edited into a punchy, short film by our film intern, Shaun Swingler. The film was then added to our YouTube channel where we have amassed our collection of Paperight related video content. It is definitely worth a watch!

One of the success stories to come out of the PYWA project is the fact that Eden College in Durban, the school with the most selected contributors, chose to use the PYWA as a prescribed English Literature set work for their Grade 10 students.

Project 12: Sales course for Outlet Development Manager: closing report

A ten-week course on selling for our Outlet Development Manager Yazeed Peters, intended primarily to boost sales from outlets to bulk-printing customers, resulting in revenue for Paperight in rights and service fees.

General report-back

The course has helped Yazeed define his role in Paperight more clearly. Yazeed was averse to being branded as a salesperson due to the stigma attached to salespeople. Through the course he has improved his goal-setting and confidence in fulfilling a sales role.

Objectives achieved/not achieved

Planned: “We hope that the course will enable Yazeed to find and close valuable deals between outlets and their customers that will boost Paperight’s revenue and create the success stories we need in order to encourage other outlets to register and do similar deals … revenue will increase, and outlets will be able to see the impact that Paperight can have on a business that embraces and promotes print-on-demand.”

We believe this has been achieved. The clearest evidence is that Yazeed’s sales work has kept us on track with our revenue targets.

Measures of success

Planned: “Yazeed must complete the course and all knowledge review and feedback sheets. This will help determine whether he feels he is internalising the training material.”

Yazeed: “The course materials are aligned with my own values and therefore easy to internalise.”

Planned: “Yazeed will report back to the team, and write up his reports, on what he’s learning and how it’s impacting his work with outlets and their customers.”

This is being done on an ongoing basis as Yazeed briefs and trains colleagues on aspects of pitching and sales, and briefs us on the status of pending deals.

Before: “We expect:  To see more deals like the Pelikan Park deal being created and closed.”

After: Achieved: We have been successfully involved in four similar deals since then.

Before: “To see a deal a month as early as one month into his course. ”

After: On average we have seen a deal per month with us reaching our overall targets successfully, considering that targets increase by 50% per month.

Before: “We’ve love to see more than that.”

After: We have not yet seen more, but this work has led to us formalising our efforts to seek sponsorships as a core part of our business, and to trying to recruit a dedicated sales manager to grow this side of the business.


Original budget: R19380.00

Actual spend: R13369.62

Returned to pool: R6010.38

Outputs and deliverables

Planned: “Direct tangible outputs will include the goal-setting and other plans that Yazeed creates for his position. Indirect outputs, we hope, will include sales that come as a result of his doing the course.”

Actual outputs: Yazeed’s goals have become more sales-orientated, and the course has helped him to focus on reaching sales targets and improved his ability to set priorities effectively.


The course was a valuable investment for Paperight as it allowed us to boost our abilities in sales. The important nature of sales for our start-up makes the amount spent on the course worthwhile. In future we would continue to weigh up the potential benefits versus the cost of such training courses. It is important that we do not send staff for training courses which do not add direct benefit to Paperight.


This course was a one-off investment in team capabilities that will contribute to our ability to become self-sustaining.


We’re very happy that we sent Yazeed on the course, the benefits are clear and the organisation is certainly better off as a result.

Next steps

We will consider sending team members on similar courses in future, though none are planned at this stage.

Project 8: Team build and Infrastructure: closing report

This project established our basic infrastructure for the year. We wanted to:

  • give our core team a sense of security by extending their contracts,
  • expand our freelance and intern team,
  • join industry bodies,
  • cover the cost of accountants,
  • pay for important web-app subscriptions, and
  • secure rent for the office into 2014.

General report-back

This project was meant to a large extent to make infrastructure invisible to the team members: everything is simply in place so we can get on with work. This is just what happened: our team has been able to get on with things in a well organised, comfortable environment, both physically (in the office) and financially (knowing their salaries are sorted). We’re extremely happy with the outcomes of this project overall.

Objectives achieved

Planned: “…focus on scaling [Paperight’s] use. To do that, we have to have a foundation of infrastructure in place for the year, and greater job security for the team. … This will in turn boost Paperight’s efficiency and effectiveness.”

This overall objective was definitely achieved. We have a superb, close knit team who achieve a great deal and are fully committed to our vision.

See below for more detail on specific targets and measures of success.

Objectives not achieved


Measures of success


Planned Outcome
Has our team and infrastructure provided the base we need to accomplish our specific goals during the year? As we’ll show below, our goals changed during the year based on some sensible changes we made to strategies. We essentially achieved goals that are more closely aligned to our strategies, see more below.
When we review our progress every three months, do our predictions here about the team size and structure and tools and memberships align with our users’ needs? (E.g. are we providing sufficient support to and content for our outlets to make them use Paperight more profitably?) We worried that we did not enough outlet support in the team earlier on, but the non-outlet-support team members stepped in to cover for this. For instance, through our each adopting specific outlets, and sharing outlet support calls and emails.
We expect to see:
Our team members enjoying their roles and explicitly happy that they are doing their best work (monitored already by Arthur in monthly one-on-one meetings); Achieved.
New team members fit in well, and do their best work productively as part of the team; Achieved.
Our decisions and prioritisation influenced or affirmed positively by what we learn from PASA and SABA participation; Yes. PASA membership has been especially useful: it’s led to funding to attend Frankfurt and London Book Fairs, and loads of up to date info on the education book sector (including school contact details and publisher leads). So far, SABA membership has been less useful, but had provided bookstore contacts that have been valuable, such as Caxton Books and Juta who are now outlets as a direct result of our attending SABA meetings.
We stay within budget on all line items; Where we have gone over in some line items, we’ve consciously reduced expenditure elsewhere, and kept these changes small and aligned with current strategic priorities.
A significant increase in rights income from licence sales. Achieved. Since Dec 2013 revenue has grown over 40% per month.
We would like to see:
Core team members confident that their team output is increasing in quantity and value because their own recruitment and management skills are improving; Achieved, though always more work to do in this area.
Evidence that our participation in PASA and SABA positively influences these associations’ actions or positions on increasing access to books, especially choosing open rather than closed approaches (e.g. working with photocopy businesses rather than focusing only on restricting them). Getting Juta and Caxton to sign up was a result of SABA participation. We have not had a noticeable effect on PASA, but Arthur was nominated for the board of DALRO (though this has not gone further), which may have been influenced by visibility at PASA-related events.
We would love to see:
Some of our interns excelling to the point that we hire them for full-time contract positions at Paperight; Achieved! Oscar Masinyana, Philippa Dewey  and Marie-Louise Rouget are key members of our team that started as interns during this project.
Our efforts on training reflected in the future scoring on BEE certification; We have not reviewed our BEE scoring yet, but are being careful to record training initiatives (e.g. training sessions for interns), for this and for SDL claims.
A third source of income (after rights fees and Shuttleworth Foundation funding). Nothing concrete here yet, but we’re exploring options.


For Paperight’s company achievements, we set the following goals for ourselves to achieve by August 2013 (using present-tense visualisation):

Goal Outcome
Unisa is using and paying for Paperight to deliver content to its students. We have not made progress here. Still trying to get a meeting with the right people (after several meetings with the wrong people).
We have an alternative funding source (a grant or prize) to the value of R1m. We don’t have this, and have structured our plans and budgets to not need it to get to self-sustainability.
We have won a large award for our work. We won at Tools of Change in New York and London Book Fair, and were congratulated by Parliament.
Paperight has been covered in the New York Times. We didn’t get this exactly, but had great coverage in many places, including Forbes and CNN websites.
We have placed 10 success stories that have emotional impact in the press. When we planned this, we meant success stories about Paperight’s impact on specific individuals. Have did not identify these stories. But we’re still very pleased with the impact of our releases and news in the press (see quarterly reports for media coverage).
We have a Tax Clearance Certificate from SARS. Achieved!
We have more outlets (active printing businesses) than there are bookstores in South Africa (assuming 500 stores). We deliberately decided against growing to this size, choosing rather to focus on quality of service in our existing outlet footprint.
We have 5000 valuable documents on Paperight (more once we’ve automated content prep). We have 1900, but we’re happy that they are good quality. Automated content prep only became live around June 2013, so it has not yet had the impact on content numbers that it might still have.
Internally we may change these goals if our strategy shifts as we learn during the year. As noted above, many of our goals did shift, but we’re happy that they shifted sensibly.



Original budget: R1004313.00

Actual spend: R912555.25

Returned to pool: R91757.75

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Contract extension: Content manager 160000 144124.78 15875.22
Contract extension: Media manager 140000 126124.78 13875.22
Contract extension: Outlet development manager 140000 126124.78 13875.22
Contract extension: Office manager 154000 144882.56 9117.44
New contract: Content wrangler Nov 2012 – Aug 2013 110000 125947.00 -15947 We gave Oscar a raise to match that of the rest of the team. He had been working with us as an intern initially
Interns (outlet, media, content) 44000 47100.00 -3100
Recruitment costs 2000 0 2000 We decided to make use of free advertising
Content-team freelancers 20000 12720.00 7280
Outlet-team freelancers 20000 20000 We decided to focus on content freelancers
Publisher’s Association (PASA) membership 6000 3120.99 2879.01 We saved on our membership by paying pro-rata
Bookseller’s Association (SABA) membership 3500 1150.00 2350 We saved on our membership by paying pro-rata
Rent 105600 60800.00 44800 We have decided to move the budgeted rent from September to April 2014 into a new pitch
BEE certificate 1653 1653.00 0
Online subscriptions 7200 3815.96 3384.04
Accounting fees 12000 23344.60 -11344.6
Bank charges 3600 4169.23 -569.23 Bank charges increased as we made more sales
Mandatory payroll-related taxes 15000 20765.90 -5765.9 On hiring more staff on contract basis, our payroll expenses increased
Domain registrations 1500 1500 We did not spend anything on domain registrations
Web hosting 2160 2160
Consumable stationery 3000 8373.83 -5373.83
Software 8500 8500 We did not purchase another Adobe
Travel 42000 25113.32 16886.68
Data for remote web access R2600 1977.00 623
Advertising 0 21385.02 -21385.02 We did not budget for marketing for this year initially
Legal fees 0 7362.50 -7362.5 We unexpectedly had to cover ourselves in the event of a court case with New Africa Books
Donations and grants 0 2500.00 -2500
Total R1 004 313 R912555.25 R91757.75


Outputs and deliverables

Planned: “Direct tangible outputs: Team contracts and rental agreements in place. BEE certification. Given that this project underlies all of Paperight’s work, further indirect outputs and IP created include everything we produce over the coming year.”

All achieved.


It’s hard to sum up everything we learned in a year of teamwork. Some team-organisation principles that have served us well over the last year:

  • We don’t have job descriptions, just clear areas of functional authority which are defined in two to three bullet points each;
  • We don’t have reporting lines or bosses/managers. Each team member reports to the rest of the team as a whole (with the CEO having final say where a decision is necessary), and has a guide for one-on-one guidance, idea-bouncing and sharing in confidence. Each team member and guide get out of the office for an open one-on-one chat at least once a month. This is incredibly useful for uncovering anxieties and for celebrating wins.
  • We set goals for the company/team for the year, and then each team member sets goals for three to six months (depending on what their role demands). These are written down on our wiki. (See below for next year’s goals.)
  • We keep a close eye on training, we want to be sure everyone feels they’re learning something in their jobs.
  • Finances are totally transparent to everyone on the team, including salary info. Everyone is expected to understand how we’re doing financially, and where they fit into our financial goals.
  • We have had to actively encourage and ensure open discussion about tough issues: each others’ roles, moral/ethical differences regarding Paperight strategies, social impact vs financial priorities.
  • We have to put in real effort to creating culture around tools: we’ve worked hard to keep people using the wiki, Trello (for project management), Skype for daily interaction, Google Docs, shared files and their backups, and email properly. This requires constant attention and maintenance but is always worth investing in.
  • Shared vocabulary around productivity has been invaluable. In particular, we use the concepts of ‘shipping’ (getting something off your desk) and avoiding ‘thrashing’ and ‘lizard brain’ anxieties and procrastination — borrowed from Seth Godin’s superb talk on ‘Quieting the Lizard Brain’.
  • Our shared vision, ‘Every book within walking distance of every home’ continues to be a key compass point for us, but it does need to be consciously raised from time to time, and actively integrated into our plans and metrics so that it doesn’t get treated as lip-service.
  • Arthur relies on key members of the team to offer leadership as the team grows. These leaders emerge naturally.
  • We’ve been incredibly lucky to have such a great time spirit, and we know that this is something we must nurture, for both our effectiveness and for our enjoyment of what we do.

Team/company goals for Paperight’s next year are much more focused on self-sustainability and impact than last year:

  • We are on target (Y)
  • 100K over Paperight’s cut of target = bonuses paid out to team members (Y)
  • 500-University student survey (at UCT and US): 7/10 students have heard of Paperight (M-L)
  • We’ve reached 5000 students in 50 schools for R500 000 (A)
  • 2000 copies downloaded outside of CBDs (O)
  • R2mil in turnover contributed to South African Businesses (including licenses to publishers and turnover at copyshops) (A)
  • 10 outlets are a pleasure to by a book at (customer wants to come back) (Y)

The initials in brackets show who is primarily responsible for monitoring our performance against these goals during the year.


We will pitch again for further team infrastructure funding out of project funds, and stay on revenue target to be self-sustaining when that runs out.


This has been an excellent year: despite it being extremely hard work, with a mix of disappointments and frustrations, it had more successes and celebrations. This is only possible with a great team that feels secure.

Next steps

The current team will stay in place covered by future project funding.

Project 6: Software phase 2.1 and 2.2: closing report

Project 6, aka Software Phase 2, was written up in three parts:

  • Phase 2, the original pitch
  • Phase 2.1, which was a significant change to the original Project 6 Software Phase 2; and
  • Phase 2.2.

In Project 6 (Software Phase 2), we originally set out to add several new features we believed would be crucial or valuable for

  • automatic PDF layout (to cope with the increasing load of incoming content)
  • mobile-optimised catalogue/browsing site with white-labelling feature
  • integration of major retailer affiliate-link feeds
  • publisher dashboard for sales figures and ability to edit own content
  • incorporate tracking URLs that enable single-sign-on forum access.

Between that pitch and briefing the developers, we changed our priorities based on user feedback and strategic considerations. This resulted in a significant change, where we revised our priority features as follows, referring to them as Software Phase 2.1:

  • 3rd Party Product Integration
  • Product Ownership
  • Publisher Dashboard: Transactions, Payments, Credits widget
  • Find-outlets call to action
  • General Improvements
    • Show PDF file size
    • Country to currency mapping
    • Average default print costs
    • Licensee details capture
    • SEO friendly URLs
    • Suggest a book
    • Licence search
  • PDF Automation
    • HTML to Paperight PDF
    • PDF to Paperight PDF

In 6B/Phase 2.2, we pitched to develop additional, closely related features, referred to collectively as Software Phase 2.2:

  • Site-content management (admins can change text on the site)
  • Preview-document downloads
  • Company User Management: separate ‘company’ registrations form ‘user’ registrations
  • Paperight Staff User Management (different user privileges)
  • Ability to Close/Reopen Accounts
  • Removal of advert space in PDF
  • Hide product-ordering and pricing details from non-logged-in users
  • Revised home page layout
  • HTML to Paperight PDF: further dev on epub imports

General report-back

Overall, this project went very well, thanks to good preparation on our side and great professionalism by Realm Digital. We did change priorities for development during the project, but this was understandable since we need to respond to user feedback as it comes in, especially if it affects our development roadmap while we’re developing.

As with other projects, our only concerns are that we and Realm should find ways to do more testing on older versions of IE (7 and 8) under different circumstances — but that can only really be achieved by seeing the site working on the field and responding.

All of the features developed in this project work well, and almost all have already proven useful or critically important in practice.

Objectives achieved

Planned: “These are important improvements to our product and our infrastructure. In particular: they reduce confusion and uncertainty for users (preview docs, find-outlets); they enable us to refine our messaging continuously in response to user feedback and context (e.g. emphasise topical content, or test different calls to action); they speed up prep of and improve the quality of our documents (epub-to-Paperight PDF); they make clear the distinction between individual users and the companies they represent — companies, not individuals, register on Paperight and deal in licences, and we must make this clear for user clarity and for legal clarity. We want these improvements to lead to higher conversion rates (more copy shops completing transactions, more customers going into Paperight outlets) as a result of clearer messaging, confidence from previews, and more content availability (as a result of our faster content-prep workflow).”

These objectives were all achieved and have proved very important to our work and strategy.

Objectives not achieved


Measures of success

Original pitch

Planned Outcome
Are all our features implemented on time and do they work as planned? Yes.
Do they enable us to learn the lessons we want to learn, particularly around revenue streams? In part. We moved white-label site functionality to a later development phase (phase 3), and have not seen revenue increase there because Postnet are still delaying head-office-level signup. And we’ve now tested and proven that affiliate income (Amazon links) is not a revenue source. So while we have no positive outcomes from the experiments, the lessons have been valuable.
Expect: Ten-fold increase in the rate of adding new content (currently about 50 books a week); Reports from outlets of increased consumer-initiated interest; Some revenue from affiliate links within two months of that feature being live; Publishers updating their own metadata (e.g. descriptions and pricing). As explained further below, increase in rate of adding new content has been closer to two-fold.

We have seen greater consumer-initiated interest at outlets.

No revenue from affiliate links.

We decided not to allow publishers to update their own metadata, and have not seen demand for that feature anyway.

Like: In addition, an increase in rate of outlets and small publishers signing up abroad Outlet signups abroad have not been significant (two or three outlets abroad). However, we’ve seen several small and medium publishers sign up abroad, which has been great.
Love: One large South African publisher contribute a range of books (or a single major text prescribed at a major college or university) because of the availability of single-sign-on tracking URLs. This has not happened yet.


Project 6B pitch (revised original pitch)


Planned Outcome
Are all our features implemented on time and do they work as planned? As with Phase 1 there was some delay over original planned schedule. All features work as planned.
Expect: Ten-fold increase in the rate of adding new content (currently about 50 books a week); Previews being downloaded, and leading to some full purchases; Increased rate of purchased material We have not seen a ten-fold increase. The increase is likely a doubling of speed, which is still very useful. This is largely because it has proved near impossible to automate dealing with the technical differences between content sources, and some human intervention is still required.

Previews are being downloaded; it is not yet clear whether they directly lead to more sales, but anecdotal evidence suggests they do prevent sales of the wrong documents, reducing our customer service burden.

We see an overall increase in purchase rates that may be in part attributed to these software improvements, but can’t be separated from improvements in other areas of the business.

Like: In addition, an increase in rate of outlets and small publishers signing up abroad; Some revenue from affiliate links within two months of that feature being live We’ve seen one or two overseas signups, but no significant increase.

We have seen no revenue from affiliate links. This was not a good use of our resources, though it seemed a very good idea at the time. Worthwhile experiment, though, since we can now exclude affiliate revenue as a revenue source.

Love: One large South African publisher contribute a range of books (or a single major text prescribed at a major college or university) as epubs, and these books being purchased in outlets. The large publishers that have signed up have only given us PDFs so far, because they do not have EPUBs of the books they are giving us. This may still happen in future.



Original budget: R592160.00

Actual spend: R553 641.00

Returned to pool: R38519.00

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Software phase 2.2 572609.00 534090.00 38519.00 Software expenses up until October 2014 to be carried over to a new budget
Legal expenses 19551.00 19551.00 0
TOTAL 592160.00 553641.00 38519.00


Outputs and deliverables


Planned Outcome
Phase 2.1
3rd Party Product Integration Done. Search results show affiliate links to Amazon products. Has proven that this is NOT a source of revenue, and not as helpful as we hoped.
Product Ownership Done. Critical piece of the puzzle, allows us to link sales to publishers’ earnings automatically, in real time.
Publisher Dashboard: Transactions, Payments, Credits widget Done.
Find-outlets call to action Done.
Show PDF file size Done.
Country to currency mapping Done.
Average default print costs Done.
Licensee details capture Done.
SEO friendly URLs Done.
Suggest a book Done.
Licence search Done.
PDF Automation: HTML to Paperight PDF Done.
PDF Automation: PDF to Paperight PDF Done — extremely useful, and means we no longer require Adobe products in our workflow (except for rare and tricky exceptions)
Phase 2.2
Site-content management (admins can change text on the site) Done. Extremely powerful, has allowed us to fine tune wording from overall messaging to tweaking phrases on tooltips and buttons to increase site usability.
Preview-document downloads Done. Very useful and important feature.
Company User Management: separate ‘company’ registrations from ‘user’ registrations Done.
Paperight Staff User Management (different user privileges) Done.
Ability to Close/Reopen Accounts Done.
Removal of advert space in PDF Done. (Docs can now either support ad space or not.)
Hide product-ordering and pricing details from non-logged-in users Done.
Revised home page layout Done — crucial change, this, reduced dud registrations on the site from dozens a month to almost zero.
HTML to Paperight PDF: further dev on epub imports Done, but epub imports still present problematic issues, related to the wide range of epub structures, so we do not use this feature as much as we thought we would, preferring to work with the HTML extracted from the epub instead where possible.



We and Realm should find ways to do more testing on older versions of IE (7 and 8) under different circumstances — but that can only really be achieved by seeing the site working on the field and responding. But Realm give us two weeks after going live to do final testing, after which most bug fixing is charged for over and above the project fee. The problem is that some problems (esp those with IE) only arise in the field months after release. This is an issue we’re discussing with Realm to find good compromises.


This was a once-off development phase that builds towards Paperight’s overall self-sustainability as a business.


This project went well overall. Some of the features we developed were experiments, and we learned valuable lessons from them even if they weren’t the lessons we were hoping for. We’re pleased with the changes as made midway due to user feedback received at the time.

Next steps

At the time of writing: for software, a phase 3 has been completed and phase 4 is starting.

Project 2: Promotion: closing report

This project was to promote Paperight to outlets and customers as we launch our instant-delivery site.

With this project we wanted to plan and execute a marketing effort to attract new outlets and consumers to use Paperight. Key features of the project plan included:

  • A dedicated outlet-development manager to visit and provide support to outlets;
  • Public advertising of the service (incl. buses, mobile ads, Facebook ads);
  • Mainstream-media coverage (incl. interviews on radio, magazine and newspaper articles, press releases for online reference);
  • Production of an explainer video for our website and others to embed;
  • Production and distribution of a catalogue of Paperight content to 1000 outlets around South Africa, with an emphasis on the Western Cape.

General report-back

We came a very long way under this project, making many twists and turns as we learned by trial and error how best to promote Paperight. It’s a journey that we’re going to be on for some time to come.

Overall, a key learning was that we must help outlets promote themselves as much as, or more than, we promote Paperight itself. And that the only way to reliably make sales in the early days is to create them manually, one by one. You simply can’t dive into advertising till you’ve done the groundwork in person, face to face, hand-holding every sale from start to finish.

We also learned that it’s easy to produce marketing materials that never get used. Under Objectives Achieve below we explain how we fared in each area of the project plan.

Objectives achieved/not achieved

We said: “Paperight’s value is proportional to the number of outlets and customers using it, so promotion is critical as soon as we have a site that can deliver instant PDFs for printing. We need to plan ahead, have the right people in place, and then execute a well-organised marketing campaign.”

For over a year we consistently underestimated how much deliberate, focused planning must go into a marketing plan, and what it would involve. We had a strategy (approach many outlets, and build our profile through PR), but did not build this out into a play-by-play plan. We also thought that we’d run a public advertising campaign, an approach that quickly changed when we realised that we didn’t yet have the outlet footprint or available products required to support that.

As planned, we did bring in a marketing professional, but this wasn’t the right person and we parted ways within a month. We then naively thought we could handle marketing ourselves. It was only when Zoom Advertising did a pro bono marketing-plan workshop with us in June 2013 that we really understood what a marketing plan should be, and hired a dedicated member of the team to create, manage and implement it. This is now in place and doing well.

We said: “We plan to create enough interest that 100 outlets register on Paperight, and 1000 documents are purchased through these outlets over a two-month period.”

It took us just over two months to get to 100 outlets, mostly by visiting them personally. However, 35 of these were duds, not viable as outlets. After three months we had 100 viable outlets registered. Over the first two months we only ‘sold’ (most were free downloads) 100 copies, not 1000. It took us ten months to get to 1000 copies.

We said: “This will also lead to valuable feedback for us, and kickstart the word-of-mouth required for organic outlet and customer growth.”

This was definitely the case, a process that continues today.

Activities planned vs actual

Planned Actual outcome
Approach media contacts, especially in radio and newspapers (broad and community-based), to ask for interviews and articles. We’ve got better and better at this, and now are very effective at getting good PR. PR campaigns are carefully planned and thoroughly executed. But it took us about a year, including hiring a professional for five months (using SAB Foundation funding) to learn how to do it.
Identify key advertising targets, and purchase space. Current key targets are Facebook, Golden Arrow buses and taxis, posters in train stations in Cape Town, and posters for outlet shop windows. We’ve tried Facebook advertising with limited success. We decided against bus advertising, focusing resources instead on producing small-scale advertising for outlets, with generally poor results.
Outsource design of bus-wrap advertising. Not done.
Recruit outlet-development manager. We hired three people for five months: Zukisani, Zimkita and Yazeed. They hit our outlet registrations targets. Yazeed has stayed on under separate projects as business/outlets development manager, and is a crucial member of the team.
Hire in part-time marketing expertise. Our first part-time hire did not work out — we were not happy with performance or approach. We then used these funds to keep on Nick Mulgrew full-time as in-house designer. This has been a crucial role, helping us create very high quality materials and design and copy.
Commission explainer video from Blinktower. We commissioned Sea Monster instead of Blinktower, and are very happy with our explainer video.
Design, print and distribute catalogue of top content. We did this as a poster. We could not distribute the poster properly though, and it quickly became out of date because of the way we included pricing on the poster. The lesson learned was not to print large quantities of posters, but rather the design custom posters per outlet or chain, and let them print them as needed.
Develop outlet-support protocols, processes and scripts. This is an ongoing process. We developed an outlet user guide, outlet introduction/info pack, and various templated scripts and survey questions.


Measures of success

Planned output Planned measure Planned target Actual outcome
Visible adverts and media coverage Claimed visibility numbers (e.g. how many people see a bus?) 1m people It isn’t possible to get a good measure for this. When we planned this measure, it was based on using one major advertising method. We changed our approach to use many targeted methods. We doubt we’ve exposed Paperight to anything close to 1m people.
Explainer video Viewers feel they can use Paperight today; leads people to sign up 8 of 10 viewers we survey say they’d use Paperight in the next month; traffic to the site from video embeds leds to >1min time on site and >2-pages browsing The explainer video is still extremely clear and useful in many contexts, especially pitches to publishers and potential partners. But we have not been able to gather data according to these measures. It’s great that after a year of changed messaging, the explainer is still on message.
User feedback, and outlet-support protocols, processes and scripts Ability to answer queries quickly; common issues converted into improvements and added to dev roadmap Every query solved within 2 minutes of first contact; any query that repeats >10 times converted to roadmap item This has been achieved. Queries that are not instantly resolved only take longer because the customer needs patient handholding. Repeat queries have consistently led to development roadmap items that have been implemented.
Developed list of good media contacts Can we get PR messages out through good channels in future? >20 personal media contacts who’d return our calls We have many more than 20 excellent media contacts now, and get great coverage from press releases.
Top-content catalogue Can outlets use it to entice customers to print? Verified distribution to 800 outlets; positive feedback from 80% of outlets we ask We did not achieve this aim. We have conducted a separate survey (here) of outlet’s use of Paperight posters in general that show low take-up: “Of the 145 surveyed outlets only 28 put up posters.” IMportantly, “of the outlets who put up posters, 70% sold books”.
Better understanding of what works and doesn’t when marketing Paperight What would we do differently next time and why? Clear, ongoing write-up of lessons learned on wiki We are fairly good at this. We have a range of reports and protocol pages on learnings from campaigns. (E.g. the outlet survey mentioned above.)
Expanded user base (customers, publishers, outlet partners) Number of users; frequency of use; revenue per outlet Users: 1000 customers, 100 outlets, 50 rightsholders; frequency: average outlet acquires 1 document/day; total revenue per outlet R500/month. Only after several months did we hit the numbers of 1000 customers, 100 outlets and 50 rightsholders. We have never attained the frequency of 1 doc/day/outlet or R500/month per outlet. However, we have established new, clear revenue targets for the network overall  that have been met for 9 months in a row.


We expected to see customers using the site at the measurable levels listed above. We’d have liked to see all these measures exceeded. We’d have loved to see these measures exceeded but also to discover new ways to develop Paperight that we never thought of.


Original budget: R511500

Actual spend: R489372.37

Returned to pool: 22127.63


Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Outlet Manager 150000 150000 0 3 outlets managers hired for five months.
Travel 45000 35132.96 9867.04 We managed to save on travel these months
Marketing Consultant 50000 50000 0 Some spent on a consultant, remainder used to give Nick Mulgrew a full position.
Advertising 164500 136998.30 27501.7 We kept our advertising costs low, and spent on many small, targeted efforts and experiments, rather than a few big expenses.
Content Manager 84000 84000 0 Tarryn-Anne Anderson
Computers 18000 10580 7420 We managed to save  by buying cheaper equipment
Unbudgeted 0 22661.11 22661.11 Adobe CS5.5, Additional consultant fees, Bank charges
Total 511500 489372.37 22127.63


Outputs and deliverables

Planned Actual outcome
a range of visible adverts and media coverage focused on Cape Town Done! We have developed a large and growing library of ads (posters, flyers, signage etc.) developed by Nick Mulgrew, and keep a running list of extensive media coverage. This project began this work, and we’ve continued it under other projects.
an explainer video we can use indefinitely to show how simple and powerful Paperight is Done. See: and in Xhosa:
outlet-support protocols, processes and scripts, stored on the Paperight wiki Done and ongoing.
a more developed list of good media contacts Done. We have an extensive list of several hundred media contacts. When we put out a press release, we select appropriate contacts from the list, and mail each one separately. High-value contacts get a phone call too.
a top-content catalogue We did this as a poster. It was not as useful as expected, largely because we chose to include pricing information on the poster that went out of date quickly.
a better understanding of what works and doesn’t when marketing Paperight This project began this learning process, but we believe our best marketing messages took well over a year to crystallise.
an expanded user base (customers, publishers, outlet partners) Indeed.
user feedback (good and bad) on which to base future development. Yes. We actively encourage this, and could always do more. Feedback is incredibly valuable and we make sure to take it on board every time.


The most important learning has been that you can’t make marketing up as you go along. Only a year later (under this and separate projects) have we got marketing planning right, after bringing in Zoom Marketing to help. marketing planning requires deliberate focusing on very specific target markets and products. The scary part is choosing what not to do — it always feels like a huge risk to not take every path. But narrowing one’s offering and one’s targets is the only way to be effective

We tried to take too big and wide an approach at the beginning, and it took a long time to realise that narrowing down was important and would take deliberate effort. That narrowing can only be done if you write down and commit to a detailed marketing plan.


Further promotional work will be funded by further Foundation-funded projects until we’re self-sustainable in 2015.


This first promotional project taught us a great deal, which was very valuable. We’re confident we can apply these lessons constructively in future promotional work in ways that grow revenue towards our self-sustainability.

Next steps

Pitch for further promotional funds under a new project, based on our new, detailed marketing plan.


Project 14: Software Development Phase 3: closing report

The third major phase of software development on

  • adding support for VAT (now that Paperight is VAT registered),
  • A5 document downloads and PDF generation,
  • high-res cover downloads (for outlets who want to produce high-end products and their own marketing materials), and
  • improved product workflow and management features.

General report-back

This project went smoothly although there were delays on our side and Realm’s, mainly in the testing stages, where we had to test some complex VAT-support issues around invoices and statements and couldn’t allocate proper time to this. However, the delays did not have a noticeable impact on our business.

Objectives achieved


Objective Aim Outcome
A5 printing Books that are easier to read, leads to greater customer and PR enthusiasm for the end product Done. This has been just as important as we hoped, greatly simplying outlet’s lives. Lots of positive feedback in discussions with users.
High-res cover downloads Lets high-end outlets create attractive front covers and promotional material We’ve seen some take up of this, particularly for promo material (e.g. Juta used these covers for a store poster), not so much for covers (outlets actually find it too much hassle to print a separate jpg as the cover; so we’re addressing this in a future dev project).
VAT support Provide automated VAT-compliant invoices and statements between us, publishers, and outlets. Done. This is a major statutory requirement. No user feedback yet.
Improved PDF generation Speed up the content team’s ability to get documents online, and reduce the file sizes of downloads Done. The new PDF generation workflow is a huge improvement, drastically cutting doc creation time, and resulting in consistently smaller file sizes than in our old InDesign-based workflow.
Improved document management Ability to control a book’s visibility on the site

Ability to change the 80/20 earnings split between Paperight and rightsholders for specific documents



Objectives not achieved


Measures of success


Planned Outcome
First: do the new features function as expected? Yes.
We expect to see A5 documents outselling A4 documents (with the exception of matric exam packs) by 2 to 1. This is hard to measure because we have sold no documents that are available in both A5 and A4 simultaneously. That said, A5 is outselling A4 overall, even though there are far fewer A5 books than A4 available. This is in part because we’ve changed many of our bestsellers from A4-two-up to A5, and removed the two-up option completely.
We would like to see a noticeable increase in revenue, and as importantly, an increase in the number of outlets actively promoting the service to their customers. Our revenue continues to grow on target by over 40% per month on average.
We would love to see traditional booksellers register as outlets, given that we now offer products that ‘look like books’. All of Juta’s 10 stores and Caxton Books (a major supplier to the schools market) have registered. We can’t attribute this directly to A5, but our pitch to them generally is stronger by being able to offer A5.



Original budget: R139080.00

Actual spend: R139080.00

Returned to pool: R0.00

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Functional specification 6840 6840 0
Software build 3.0 84360 84360 0
Theme support, purchase notification emails, registration form improvement, record and timestamp all logins, company account closure improvments 34200 34200 0
Read only PDF’s, listed publishers titles, outlet GPS locations 13680 13680 0
TOTAL 139080 139080 0


Outputs and deliverables

Functional specification and working software code on


When working on something as complex as multinational VAT support and automated documentation for three-party agency sales (Paperight, publisher, outlet), it’s important that you:

  • write everything down very clearly as you go
  • keep one master document of current thinking in as concise a form as possible (multiple docs or outdated notes are unhelpful and even misleading)
  • work quickly while the discussions and decisions are fresh in the mind.


This was a once-off project. Ongoing maintenance and support will be done on an ad hoc basis with Realm. A future project will move all code to an open-source repository, increasing our options for involving other developers for future maintenance.


Great project, despite some delay (as much ours as Realm’s) and testing issues.

Next steps

We have conducted further development projects with Realm Digital, and will continue to build on an excellent working relationship.

Project 3: 1.0 Software Build: closing report

This project is to build the first release of the current Key technical outputs planned:

  • Complete basic frontend components: landing, registration and profile pages; account-credit-top-up page; catalogue page; licence-purchase page; manage-licences page; manage-metadata page.
  • Complete basic backend components: account-credit management; user-search-and-manage page; doc-search-and-manage page; licence-search-and-manage page; PDF-watermarking (shop name, customer name, date, URL ID).

General report-back

After a great deal of careful planning and briefing, this project went extremely well. It ran a couple of months late, which is not unusual for software projects of this nature. Importantly, we built what we needed and achieved our objectives.

Objectives achieved

Planned: “… contract Realm Digital to build a revenue-generating site that will sell instant, automatic licences with content. … ensure that the site is built to accommodate a database of millions of titles, and a range of future enhancements, including devolved user-management, publisher self-service, and API plugins.”

This was achieved.

Objectives not achieved


Measures of success

Before: “We expect immediately on launch to see outlets respond positively to improvements in speed and ease of using 1.0 over 0.5.”

After: Achieved. Getting outlets to sign up with Paperight at all was much easier after the new site launched.

Before: “we’d like to see them using the site on their own for buying content for customers, for content we haven’t explicitly told them about, and visiting more often per month than they visited 0.5. (Outlets have already used 0.5 without guidance for content they’ve found themselves.”

After: This did happen, and has continued since.

Before: “we’d love to see more than a dozen new outlets registering and using the site based on word of mouth, without our active promotion and guidance. (We’ve already had half a dozen registrations on 0.5. So we are confident of far exceeding this number with 1.0.”

After: We actively signed up 117 outlets within four months. In addition, 15 signed up by word of mouth, slightly exceeding our planned measure.


Original budget: R510000

Actual spend: R509238

Returned to pool: R762

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Realm Digital Build 510000 509238 762 All done on budget.
Total 510000 509238 762


Outputs and deliverables

Planned: “…the 1.0 site described in supporting documents: the Realm Digital quote and solutions architecture document. The site (a) is faster and lighter than our WordPress prototype, (b) automates a one-click licensing and PDF-delivery process. The IP created will be the designs, code and related documentation that make up the site, and workflow/process documents (hosted on the Paperight wiki,”

This was all completed as planned.


Crucially important to keep regular, clear communication with developers, especially about timing. This project ran late because we let that communication slip early on and had to claw back time later.

Realm Digital is superb at creating clear documentation about agree functionality, process and costings from the beginning. This was immensely valuable, and the kind of professionalism that we expected, given that they are an expensive development company. We would noe expect similar levels of professional planning and execution from any supplier

One are of concern has been cross-platform testing. It only became clear almost a year after this project that Realm were not testing their code as thoroughly as they had led us to believe. We’ve since addressed this with them, but aren’t entirely happy with their level of testing, especially in IE8. This requires ongoing effort to address, and we will agree with Realm in future dev phases, on a case by case basis, how testing is conducted.


This was a once-off project. Under a separate project, we’re moving this and subsequent code to Github under an open licence, which will give us wider options for future improvements and bug fixing.


Great project, despite some timing and testing issues.

Next steps

We have conducted further development projects with Realm Digital, and will continue to build on an excellent working relationship.


Uploading Accent Press and Cambridge University Press titles, and finalising Pearson agreement

Throughout September we continued to work on uploading the backlog of documents on to Paperight. This included the upload of all the Accent Press titles, which we pushed to get on in time to run the planned erotica and romance campaign. That marketing project was subsequently cancelled, you can read more about why here.

We did a big overhaul of DropBox, to ensure that archiving was happening smoothly and that everything was in the right place. We uploaded the Cambridge University Press titles, and met with them to further discussions about getting prescribed textbooks on Paperight. We also met with Pearson to finalise the signing of our agreement with them – a big win.

Our other big event for the month was the launch of the Paperight Young Writer’s Anthology at the Open Book festival. You can read about that in more detail here.

My other activities for the month were Frankfurt Book Fair related: I applied for the CONTEC Startup Showcase, on Paperight’s behalf. This included writing, refining and filming a video pitch, and submitting the online application. I also set-up a number of meetings for FBF (McGraw Hill, Wiley, Routledge, Hachette, Bloomsbury, Worldreader), and did a lot of travel admin with Dez.

Tackling the content backlog

When I returned from the States there was so much to get done. Firstly I had to prepare and upload the backlog of content that had accrued in my working folder. This included over 100 erotica titles from Accent Press, which in the end we didn’t make available for download on the site due to a controversy in the UK over erotica titles on Amazon and Kobo. (See Marie-Louise’s blog post for more on this). I didn’t have InDesign on my laptop and my free trial had run out so I was having to borrow Tarryn’s laptop in order to get this done. The PDF-to-PDF converter tool that the developers were working on was not ready yet so the process was a bit slow and it took quite a while to get through this backlog.

Then, the Dropbox content folder needed streamlining; there was a whack of content to be archived and the content leads list which Oscar had been building needed fleshing out. For this I needed to make sure that all of the entries had the basic information (title, ISBNs, author name, publisher) necessary for Tarryn to be able to use it to approach publishers and ask for their content. After learning the archiving process I wrote the process up as a wiki post, along with other a few other posts relating to the content teams duties, for future reference. This system of writing up processes in wiki posts was great as it served as a reminder if you forgot how you had done something, and it served as instructions to someone else who had never done the process before.