#authorsforaccess Campaign

2013-10-08_1381246610The aim of this campaign was to initiate an ongoing, online conversation for book authors to join, debating the need for open content and increased access to book content of all kinds. This campaign was spearheaded by Tarryn as a mechanism for gathering support to assist in negotiations with publishers for book content.

I drew up a Twitter conversation plan comprised of engaging quotes and statistics, as well as a list of useful, outspoken contacts to approach for input, such as Neil Gaiman, Margaret Attwood, Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow and Chuck Wendig – as suggested by Tarryn.

Unfortunately, this campaign was shelved due to a change in tack at Paperight HQ to focus solely on the varsity campaign, which became known as the #textbookrevolution campaign, during the crucial buying cycle at the beginning of 2014 (roughly end of January to the beginning of March).

This plan may be resurrected in the months to come.

Launching the anthology, mapping outlets, and a big win

We’re super proud of three new videos:

22 Oct 2013: This 8-min documentary on how and why Pelican Park High bought study materials through us is so affirming for us. It helps answer the doubts that can haunt you when you’re wondering whether you’re moving forward at all.

1 Nov 2013: Similarly, this 8-min documentary on how and why Minuteman Press sponsored books for Silverstream Secondary.

18 Nov 2013: We created a short 1-minute promo from the Pelikan park video on why schools should buy study materials through us.

But the real hjighlight event of the last few months has to be the launch event of the Paperight Young Writers Anthology on 7 September 2013. (See the blog post here and photos on Facebook.)

20140429_frankenstein-mapBack at the ranch, at the end of October we finally integrated our outlets map onto our product pages, to offer the ability to find outlets and compare prices of books at them per product.

This new product-page map explains the concept behind Paperight much better, too, which frees up other messaging space.

At the same time, we also created a range of new screencast videos for our help site (released 21 Oct 2013), produced on 4 Nov 2013 a new printable product catalogue, including improved CSV-based workflow to make future updates quick and easy, and made (on 13 Nov) some useful guides for schools and sponsors on how to work with us.

Marie and Nick have also been producing loads of Facebook posts about our books and outlets.

Out and about

  • On 10 Oct 2013 I pitched at the Accenture Innovation Awards in Joburg, and won! More on that below.
  • 9 to 13 October 2013: Tarryn, our COO, visited the Frankfurt Book Fair, and also won an award. More below.
  • 24 Oct 2013: I spoke at the launch of market research company Yellowwood’s white paper on transformative innovation. Here’s text and video.

  • 6 Nov 2013: “Tough Truths about Selling to Publishers”. I spoke at the inaugural Footnote Summit, a South African digital-publishing conference. I was worried I might offend some people, but my worries were unfounded: people really appreciated my honest, and my talk led directly to one important publisher signing up, and another giving us much better books.
  • 11 Oct 2013: Nice PR opportunities off back of Accenture win, including this breakfast TV show (skip to 3:10 for me).

New supporters

20130903_122743_window-dressedWe noticed on 4 Sep 2013 that local copy shop Top Copy had devoted their entire front facade to Paperight books. It’s great to see one of our champion copy shops devoting their prime ad space to our books.

We identified 46 separate media pieces about us, including these highlights:

Big wins

Five great wins in the last three months:

Our roadmap for the next 3 months

October and November sales were very low, so for the next three months we’re shifting focus to our Feb/Mar 2014 universities promotional campaign, headlined #textbookrevolution, and emphasising the need for universities and publishers to move away from their traditional, bloated supply chain (where 70% of the retail price of a textbook goes to the supply chain alone), and towards Paperight.

Book reviews are back in fashion!

Before I arrived at Paperight, there had been an attempt to make book reviews a regular thing to post on the blog. When I stepped into the ring, I fully intended to bring them back from obscurity.

Having worked in a bookstore, I know that book recommendations are incredibly valuable when it comes to making the decision to buy a book. Customers rely on experienced ‘readers’ giving them advice on what they already believe should be good reads, and that opinion is already made on what they have heard from friends and read in newspapers or magazines. There are so many titles out there that most readers rely heavily on instruction.

digital-photography-1-10_getsmarter_cover_20121113I started with a review of the GetSmarter Digital Photography course manual due to my personal interest in photography. At the time I happened to be taking a part time, manual photography course and I needed some further instruction when it came to capturing the perfect image. The fact that the title tied into a personal interest made the review so much easier.

macbeth-robert-deas_cover_20131001My second review was for the Manga Shakespeare series from Self Made Hero. Inbetween campaign prep tasks for the #textbookrevolution, I made my way through Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With beautiful drawings and a distilled version of the story, they were enjoyable to read and I made sure to emphasise that in my review.

Both reviews have been published on the Paperight blog. However, I envisioned that one day, these reviews would be seen on the Paperight.com home site, along with the opportunity for customers to review titles they have bought, too.

Apart from this, I also attempted to review a GetSmarter Marketing course manual, but I couldn’t strike the right tone in the piece so it was never released. This review highlighted the biggest problems with the reviewing process:

  1. There often isn’t enough time to focus on reading a new book and reviewing it too.
  2. It is much easier to review a title that you enjoy.

I would definitely advise having more than one person reviewing titles because one person’s chore is another person’s choice read. This also spreads the task around and makes it less difficult to produce many reviews over the same amount of time. If I had a perfect system, I would make sure that Paperight publishes at least 4 reviews a month, totalling 48 reviews a year. This may be a small number, but with a small team, this number is achievable and will grow exponentially as the team grows and the catologue of books grows. Just a thought! As much as Paperight has tried to distance themselves from ordinary bookselling practices, I think that this practice is absolutely essential to building regular customers.

Footnote Summit and investment discussions

On the tail-end of our frustration at the long lead time in getting publishers signed up, Arthur was asked to speak at the Footnote Summit. He spoke at the summit about the tough truths we’d learned about selling to publishers. His talk was very well received, and while we were concerned that the points we covered might be taken badly, it seemed that they resonated with those championing the cause in their larger publishing companies (it even prompted a long-awaited registration or two).

One of the outcomes of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October was that I met two potential funders for Paperight. In November, Arthur and I had conversations with both of these leads. While, ultimately these discussions did not lead anywhere, it was incredibly useful to find out what potential investors are interested in, and what kinds of questions they are likely to ask.

I continued to work on our translation project applications, meeting with partners who may be able to offer advice on moving forward. We were turned down by JK Rowling’s agents, who were reluctant to move ahead with a new distribution model, but who invited us to reapply when we could work around those concerns (or relieve them). We facilitated the transfer of Future Managers’ titles, uploaded Xhosa Fundis titles, signed on with Worldreader to distribute the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology on their platform, started planning an #authorsforaccess campaign with Marie (this later went onto the backburner), and tested document conversions using automated PDF-PDF.

Publisher Registrations

  • Passion (2/11/2013)
  • Lorisha Educational Publishing (4/11/2013)
  • Bunya Publishing (13/11/2013)
  • Wordsmack Publishing (14/11/2013)
  • Lorca Damon (15/11/2013)
  • Siber Ink Publishers (20/11/2013)


Streamlined Paperight Product Catalogue

paperight_streamlined-catalogue_cover_20131104In November of 2013, we launched our beautiful streamlined Paperight product catalogue (PDF). Having worked with the previous catalogue as an intern which is a long, impenetrable list, I was adamant that we should upgrade it as soon as humanly possible.

The upgraded catalogue required fewer products and lots of colours and images to hook potential customers. One of the experiences that book buyers particularly enjoy is the sensation of browsing and this was meant to be a way of giving Paperight customers that experience.

Oscar and I worked on the list of content that would fit into the following broad, browsing categories:

  • matric exam packs
  • high school
  • young adult reading
  • teen reading
  • textbooks
  • tertiary education
  • classic fiction
  • teaching aids
  • child teaching
  • african literature
  • religion & spirituality
  • childcare
  • self-help & reference

Nick and I worked together on the concept for the catalogue and the necessary design feature-y type things that would make the finished product really easy and enjoyable to dip into. In the end, Nick took everything we discussed and created an absolute masterpiece. Slick and eye-catching, there is no way that anyone wouldn’t be impressed by Paperight and the featured titles.

photo4 photo3

The catalogue was launched through the weekly newsletter and on the Paperight blog. Outlets were encouraged to contact us for personalised copies featuring their own logos, business addresses and contact details. We have continued to receive a regular number of requests from business owners for personalised copies and Nick has been able to keep up with the edits due to the simplicity of the catalogue’s design. In other words, his no frills design approach has made the final document simple and quick to edit.

The catalogue was designed to be relevant from November 2013 to April 2014 to ensure we would not have to design a new catalogue anytime soon. Based on the marketing plan, we knew that we would have very busy months ahead that would leave no time for a full catalogue overhaul. Any newer updates to content have been featured through the weekly newsletter and through the Paperight Facebook page.