Category Archives: Tech

Manual orders and the last days of Paperight 0.5

Everything Maths Grade 10I was on leave for much of April, but spent the majority of my time in the office creating packs of matric exams. We also uploaded Siyavula creative commons textbooks to the site, though this took some time as there were compatibility issues with their images in InDesign.

From November 2011 until April 2012, we had to fill orders that came in to Paperight manually. Throughout April, while the new and improved Paperight 1.0 was being developed, Nick and I continued to manually fill the orders that were coming in. This entailed prepping books, and then filling in licensing information and exporting PDFs with licensing information . We’d then email these directly to the outlet for printing out. April 2012 was the last month we had to fulfill orders manually, as Paperight 1 .0 was launched the following month, in May.

Publishers approached

  • Macmillan
  • Other Press
  • Peter Lang
  • Night Shade
  • Subterranean Press
  • Cover2Cover/Fundza

After six months of funding, where are we now?

It’s hard to believe I’m already halfway through my Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship. Only moments ago I was writing up highlights from the first three months. Those were largely backoffice-building and research months:

  • we got our site (version-named Paperight 0.5) up and running with pilot content from EBW Healthcare
  • tested and established workflows, QA tests and standard documentation
  • spoke to dozens of publishers in South Africa, at the Frankfurt Book Fair and in London
  • finalised our plain-language rightsholder agreement and outlet licence
  • refined our pricing and publisher-revenue models
  • recruited a Content Manager
  • and started on UX and specs for Paperight 1.0.

In our second quarter, we’ve focused on building a viable first-stage content list, planning our marketing for the next six months, and early thrashing for the Paperight 1.0 site build.

  • We added over 1000 publications to paperight.com – Tarryn’s content report on the Paperight blog includes a great analysis of the work she and Michal Blazsczyk did to make this happen
  • created a high-quality poster catalogue that we give to outlets to help them advertise book-printing to outlets (check it out on the Paperight blog), complete with soap-style blurbs for the classics
  • continued collaboration discussions with publishers, licensing agencies, technology companies, consumer-facing businesses with multiple outlets, and our provincial education department
  • planned the 1.0 site in detail, which involved refining wireframes and UI, investigating and negotiating with software development partners, drawing up IP agreements (we’d like to GPL our code eventually, so we can’t build with proprietary tools), and workshopping and polishing a functional spec for the entire build
  • planned a marketing campaign and recruited promotional staff, including marketing consultant Niki Anderson and (soon to be appointed) an outlet-relations manager
  • found and planned the great new office space we’ll be in from April
  • and continued to develop our internal ops manual (guides, standard docs, and reference info) in a wiki, to help new team members get up to speed quickly, and keep existing staff up-to-date.

The team’s now four people, and about to be five: myself, Tarryn-Anne Anderson (Content Manager), Nick Mulgrew (content-team intern), Niki Anderson (part-time marketing), and an outlet-relations manager we’re appointing shortly. Michal Blazscyk (content-team intern) finished his internship and is off the London, where some lucky publishing company will snap him up.

So, that’s two quarters down. We have a gameplan for each one, even if day-to-day things seem to turn on a dime. The first quarter was infrastructure and research. The second: a substantial content offering, marketing planning, and Paperight 1.0 thrashing.

For our third quarter, we’re getting out of the office with direct outlet approaches and a PR-heavy marketing campaign, and getting Paperight 1.0 built and running. 1.0 gives us key new functionality important to outlets and publishers: especially instant doc-delivery, currency conversion, and catalogues defined by territory.

The fourth quarter will also be marketing-heavy, and will include pushing commercial-publisher content that we can only sell with 1.0′s territoriality features.

Behind our efforts, the ever-supportive, midnight-oil-burning team at the Shuttleworth Foundation keeps our mental, emotional, and electrical lights on. And my fellow Fellows are an unending source of inspiration, common sense, and cryable shoulders. Cheers to them.