Tag Archives: closing report

Project 13: A guide for UNISA students: closing report

Aim: Create and publish a short book on how to succeed as a UNISA student

General report-back

We set out to develop and publish a guide to studying with UNISA that is much more readable and practical than the existing official UNISA guides. This was an opportunity to market to a large body of UNISA students by partnering with Together We Pass, who have a mailing list of over 25000 students. We also wanted to test and show that Paperight is valuable to UNISA students in particular, as we begin pitching Paperight-as-document-delivery to distance-learning institutions.

We produced a great little book that has been widely distributed by Toegther We Pass, but our own sales have been extremely disappointing: we didn’t sell a single copy through Paperight.

That said, there are no failed experiments: we learned a lot about managing partnerships, open-licensing anxiety/panic, and marketing.

Objectives achieved

Produce a guide that sets a higher standard for readability and concrete value than existing official student guides: student feedback to Together We Pass is positive enough that we’re happy that we achieved this.

Licensed with a CC-BY-SA licence: We did licence openly, and then in a moment of panic of UNISA Press potentially republishing the work (and us then losing the effect of proving our distribution model), we temporarily removed the open licence. With hindsight (now, having not sold any copies through Paperight outlets), we realise that we removed the open licence out of unnecessary paranoia: UNISA Press has bigger fish to fry than republishing our little book. Embarrassingly, we had fallen into exactly the same fearful-thinking trap that so many proprietary publishers do. It’s good to know we’re not immune to this, because now we can look out for it in future.

Objectives not achieved

Sell copies of the guide to at least 500 students around the country within six months of publication: we have not sold a single copy of the guide through Paperight stores.

That said, over 1000 UNISA students received the free ebook version of the book from Together We Pass, and more continue to do so. This is a good contribution to have made, and the book contains lots of good advertising for Paperight.

Measures of success

Before: “We expect to get positive feedback and to sell at least 3000 copies within a year.”

After: Feedback was positive from Together We Pass students, especially in the development phase when TWP gathered direct feedback form many students (whose own tips were then included in the book). However, we did not sell any copies through Paperight. We note, but do not count as sales, that over 1000 students requested a free ebook copy from TWP within four months of launch.

Before: “We would like to sell 5000 copies within a year, and receive positive feedback from UNISA staff who see it.”

After: Not achieved. We are planning to promote the book again in the next year, and to do a  much better job of it. Part of that process will involve getting UNISA staff feedback directly.

Before: “ We would love to see, in addition, this project providing the proof of Paperight’s value to students that convinces a large distance-learning institution (not necessarily UNISA, but perhaps a department within UNISA) to place a large number of materials on Paperight for students, and encouraging those students directly to use Paperight to get their materials.”

After: While our UNISA negotiations continue positively (UNISA Press is currently moving our contract through their legal department), the book has not had a significant effect on those discussions.

Budget

Original budget: R40000

Actual spend: R30850

Returned to pool: R9150

Item Budget Actual Return to Pool Comments
Together we Pass Book 40000 30850 9150 An overwriter was not necessary
TOTAL 40000 30850 9150

 

Outputs and deliverables

Now What? A guide for UNISA students: http://www.paperight.com/product/1369/Now-What?-Creators-Paperight-and-Together-We-Pass

Learnings

We learned a lot about managing partnerships, open-licensing anxiety, and marketing:

  • On managing partnerships: working with Together We Pass was fruitful in product development phase, but we did not work together well on marketing. The root cause was that Paperight and TWP had different aims: Paperight wanted to use TWP’s mailing list to get UNISA students to buy the book from an outlet, while TWP wanted to offer those same students a free ebook to boost their own reputation among those students. TWP sent out marketing messaging (email, website, Twitter etc.) before we had a chance to vet and discuss it with them. So they got what they wanted, and we didn’t. TWP also put out a press release that described us incorrectly as a publisher, and did not provide the messaging we’ve crafted to tell people about our model. We didn’t see this coming, and should have been more proactive right from the start in clarifying and agreeing on the overall partnership marketing strategy. (This learning has directly influenced our MOU with Riso Africa on a copiers-in-school marketing project, where we explicitly provide for each party to see the others’ marketing releases before they are public.) This wasn’t helped by the fact that the personal relationship between our team members and Tabitha Bailey became brittle during the late production process, which in turn meant the relationship didn’t have the positive energy it needed for us to solve the problem together.
  • Open-licensing anxiety/panic: as explained above, we wasted energy worrying over the open licence when we briefly thought UNISA Press liked our book so much they might republish it. At the time, we still expected to distribute lots of copies through Paperight, thereby proving our network’s value to UNISA students. UNISA Press republishing would make that hard to do. However, we hadn’t yet realised that TWP’s free ebook version, and weaknesses in our own marketing, meant that we wouldn’t get to make enough sales to prove our network’s value anyway. In fact, the marketing benefit of having UNISA Press republish our book would have been much greater. Essentially, we panicked: something we must avoid in future.
  • Marketing: this project (along with a few others) was an example of how we have been lazy and/or wishful about marketing. In climbing the marketing learning curve, this project has shown us that we cannot do things in half measures. We’ve since got much more deliberate about planning and executing marketing strategies properly, putting in real effort and full-time team resources. (Our subsequent PR around the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology is an example of how it’s done properly, and that in turn has informed our bigger marketing plan for 2012–2014.)

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

We’re planning to relaunch the book as part of our marketing plan for 2013–2014. We’ll control the messaging ourselves (marketing won’t be in partnership with TWP), and develop a more solid marketing plan. We still believe the book will sell in future, but we will need to be smarter about promoting it.

Conclusion

As a team, we’re very disappointed and a little embarrassed byt eh way this project turned out. However, we learned a lot of very valuable lessons that we’ve already putting into practice, and the book still has lots of potential to be valuable in future.

Next steps

Plan relaunch in marketing strategy, and continue to use the book as a touchpoint in our ongoing discussions with UNISA and UNISA Press.

 

Project 7: Paperight in Live Magazine: closing report

Paperight placed a full-page advert in Live magazine, including a cartoon (as advertorial) developed by the Live team. The issue included mentions of books available on Paperight, pointing readers to Paperight outlets.

The deal also included advertising/content on Live’s mobi website. This was done later as a call for entries to the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology.

General report-back

Collaboration and execution went smoothly. The full-page ad featured a story-like cartoon, developed by the Live team, of a boy who goes out to buy paperight exam packs at the last minute to study with. Under the cartoon were small ads for two books: Let’s Talk About Varsity and Project H (a graphic novel).

However, we did not notice any discernable impact on Paperight sales as a result of the advert. We suspect this was largely because Paperight’s messaging simply wasn’t effective enough. The advert wasn’t clear enough about what was being offered and how, and we had not made it easy enough to find an outlet for those who did figure out what the ad was offering. It’s also possible the tone and approach of the advert simply wasn’t interesting enough to readers — especially being a studying-related message in the middle of a magazine consumed largely for leisure. In addition, we may simply not have advertised the right products.

We do count it at a very important learning experience. it is possible we will advertise in magazines, and potentially Live mag, again in future. But our messaging will be much clearer.

Objectives achieved/not achieved

Live Magazine wanted to:

  • generate revenue for the magazine
  • give the young production team experience of working to a commercial brief.

Objectives not achieved

Paperight aimed to drive young people to Paperight outlets to get books and documents like exam packs and increase general awareness of the Paperight model and brand. We were not able to find or show evidence that this occurred as a direct result of the advertising.

Measures of success

Measures:

Measure Report
Benchmark copy shop/outlet activity in the areas where Live is distributed before the August issue is distributed, and track the increase in traffic from August to October 2012. No discernable increase in sales from August to October. Number of completed sales over the 12-week period per week: 39, 40, 19, 20, 14, 40, 18, 13, 6, 6, 30, 29, 32.
We’ll filter by demand for the specific books advertised and reviewed in the magazine. We made consistent sales of matric exam packs over the period, but no discernable increase. We did not sell any copies of Let’s Talk About Varsity and Project H.

 

Expect:

  • Any clearly noticeable increase in the rate of outlet sign-ups in the areas where Live is actively distributed (e.g. from 1 per week to 10 per week): not achieved
  • Any clearly noticeable increase in the rate of document purchases (documents advertised in Live tracked separately to others) in the areas where Live is actively distributed: we were not able to distinguish distribution sites and nearby outlets, but did not notice any discernable increase in purchases across our outlets
  • A piece of advertorial produced that feels like a suitable and engaging piece of content for the magazine: We believe the ad fulfilled these objectives.

 

Like:

 

Paperight: A five-fold increase in the above rates: not achieved

 

Live:

 

  • reader responses and positive feedback: We are not aware of reader responses to the ad.
  • Paperight satisfied that the piece was well executed: At the time we were happy, though with hindsight having learned a lot since, we’d do it differently now, with a much clearer, starker message, and clearer, join-the-dots instructions on finding an outlet, possibly addresses of one good outlet in each urban centre.

Love:

 

Paperight: A twenty-fold increase in the above rates: Not acheived.

 

Live:

 

  • Paperight as a repeat customer: Paperight would love to work with Live again, but more likely on a content-based project (mag or video) than an advert.

 

Budget

Original budget: R37500

Actual spend: R37500

Returned to pool: R0

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Advertising and mobile pages 37500 37500 0
TOTAL 37500 37500 0

 

Outputs and deliverables

Full page advert in Live designed and published.

Learnings

As described above, we believe the content of the advert was not clear and stark enough: we’ve learned through this and other experiences that the Paperight model must be explained in starker terms, with a direct connection to a specific product and specific outlets, and preferably a clear price for the product.

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

This was a once-off project/experiment.

Conclusion

We probably rushed this project, but also were still on a steep learning curve on how to get the Paperight message across clearly. We may try magazine advertising again, but will more likely work on content/advertorial, or advertise in conjunction with a specific outlet chain (e.g. Jetline or PostNet) so that we can point customers to specific places and price points.

Next steps

At Paperight we’re constantly refining our marketing methods and plans, and this learning has contributed a lot to that. We are also talking to Live magazine about collaborating in other ways in future, e.g. in producing video.

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.

Budget

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.]

Learnings

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.

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

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.

Conclusion

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.

Project 9: Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: closing report

Aim: Develop contacts and build team expertise by sending content manager to the world’s biggest publishing trade fair.

General report-back

Tarryn’s trip to Frankfurt was very productive in terms of building relationships and learning more about the international publishing industry. Her full report is attached at the end of this document.

Objectives achieved

Actions taken:

  • Travel to Frankfurt, attend the fair, meeting rightsholders and attending seminars.
  • Upon her return, Tarryn presented to the team, wrote up a report on what she learned, and put in place action points to follow up on the content leads she generated.

As planned, this has had a positive effect on Paperight’s effectiveness with publishers, and helped a  lot with the even more successful trip to the London Book Fair in 2013.

Objectives not achieved

We believe we met all our objectives.

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 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.”

After: This definitely happened.

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

After: No publishers put content on Paperight in the weeks immediately following the fair. During 2013, five of the publishers that Tarryn met in Frankfurt have signed up and put content on Paperight (Modjaji Books, Do Sustainability, O’Reilly Media, SelfMadeHero and Random House Struik). It was only after a second meeting at the London Book Fair that this happened (except for O’Reilly, who signed up after our win at Tools of Change in February). We’ve learned that signing up established publishers takes months and usually at least two meetings at trade fairs.

Lessons learned from the trip have directly affected and affirmed the ways we approach publishers.

Before: “We would love to see: We’d love Tarryn to be invited back at part of the Frankfurt Invitation Programme. (Arthur was on this in 2009, an excellent intro and training programme sponsored entirely by the fair, to bring young publishing people from developing countries to the fair. Arthur will set up a meeting for Tarryn with the organisers.)”

After: In 2013 the Invitation Programme did not accept applications from South Africa, seeking applications from elsewhere. We’re told applications will be open to South Africans again in 2014.

Budget

Original budget: R23680

Actual spend: R17180.35

Returned to pool: R6499.65

 

 

Item Budget Actual Return to Pool Comments
Flight 12000 10055 1945
Hotel 7200 2376 4824
Trains and Taxis 1000 1165.25 -165.25
Food 1980 2021.58 -41.58
Fair Registration 700 700.50 -0.50
Visa 800 832. -62
TOTAL 23680 17180.33 6499.67

 

Outputs and deliverables

A detailed report of meetings and seminars attended, and feedback from discussions about Paperight and related ventures in the industry: see Tarryn’s report attached below.

Learnings

The most important learning is that attending trade fairs on a consistent basis, and meeting with publishers there, is critical to building relationships that lead to distribution deals.

In addition, from Tarryn’s report:

  • “Having a stall ties you down as one team member has to constantly stay there. It also does not necessarily provide a strong ROI, as the people who we want to talk to are not usually going to be the ones walking up to stands.
  • Obviously, having more than one team member working the floor allows you to cover much much more ground – especially when these efforts are targeted and coordinated. The Snapplify team was able to generate 5x the leads that I was.
  • It is important to have a ‘hit list’ of publishers/people that you want to target, so you know who your big fish are. I did this to some extent, but could have done it better. I think this task is simpler when you have a clear idea of what the fair looks like, and who will be there, as well as a focused strategy around the leads you want to generate and nurture. This is something that I will work on for next year/time.
  • Info sheets would be useful to leave with publishers who you are talking to for the first time. A number of people actually asked me if I had an info sheet for them, especially towards the end when everything is mixing together in your brain, or when the decision makers have left and the minions cannot convey the ideas properly.”

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

We will definitely attend future trade fairs, and will need to fund each of these case by case. The DTI provides some funding towards this, and we will use project funding where necessary too.

Conclusion

Great trip, an important learning experience that has had a positive effect on the team and our business.

Next steps

We’re planning for the next trip already.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: Feedback Report.

I attended the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair with the mandate of developing publisher relationships and sourcing content leads for Paperight.

I attended seminars, workshops, and panel discussions given by industry professionals and leaders, with a view to learning more about the inner workings of the publishing industry. I was also able to get a sense for where the industry is, and where it sees itself moving in the future – particularly with regards to developments in the digital sector.

The publishers with whom I 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).

The following report offers a synopsis of the sessions I attended, a breakdown of discussions with publishers (as well as a schedule of follow ups to be completed), and some lessons learned for getting the most out of the fair in the future.

Seminars/Panel Discussions Attended

Data Insights with Bowker:

The seminar, given by Bowker’s Director of Client Solutions James Howitt, sought to answer the question of “how social media and social networks are changing the ways that readers discuss books” using data gathered through specific research studies run by Bowker for its clients.

The study monitored 6000 customers each month, taking account of their demographics, book choices, retailer choices, book awareness, and favoured formats. The numbers that resulted from the research were interesting, showing a reading population of around 49% in the US, with “power buyers” who purchase multiple titles accounting for more than half of the total book sales occurring. The numbers also show an increase in the purchase of ebooks in the US, with 25% of all books sold being consumed in digital form.

The downfall of the research is it’s incompleteness, only having been conducted in geographic areas and amongst populations that were of direct commercial significance to the Bowker client. Despite the limited relevancy of the findings in a South African/African context, the principles behind the project – namely of understanding who your user is and how they are becoming aware of your product – are applicable to marketing efforts. Bowker found that the primary influencer of people’s book buying behaviour was personal recommendation, noting that if one is able to identify and harness this, then one is able to achieve an “influence multiplier”.

Also fascinating was the finding that the readers of different genres obtain these recommendations from different sources. Romance readers, for example, receive these from blogs or via general web-browsing, while mystery readers will obtain recommendations from fan pages or forums to which they subscribe. [YA literature is often recommended via blogs, YouTube, and GoodReads – usually a combination of all three].

The team has conducted similar research in Canada, the UK, and Australia. Here he notes that they found that reading/buying behaviours were similar over different territories, but that there were significant differences in the genres that were favoured in those territories.

Lessons Learned in Digital Publishing:

The panel, hosted by Richard Mollet (CEO of the Publishing Association), consisted of Richard Charkin (Executive Director, Bloomsbury), Matt Hanbury (CEO, Murdoch Books), and George Lossius (CEO, Publishing Technology). Tasked with the job of considering what lessons we’ve learnt after 10 years of digital, they began on a positive note. “This industry has adapted remarkably… academic publishing is now 90% digital, with trade at 20 % and rising quickly”, Charkin said. “What we have not done is adapt our printing  systems to the new world”, Charkin noted that book printing remains complicated, with 24 handlings of a book existing between manufacture and purchase. What he asserted right from the get-go was the necessity of applying the lessons learned from digital to the core business of print” [an angle which may be relevant for marketing Paperight].

The other panelists lamented the external influences (and influencers) which have altered the ways in which content is delivered to the market. Lossius, while noting that digital giants like Amazon, as well as innovation and development of communications technology in general, has meant that more people can more easily access the books that they want, commented that the danger is that publishers have allowed themselves to be easily governed by big players. Hanbury agreed, saying that in encountering the digital world, devices have captivated the consumer market to the extent that the device becomes more important than the content. This power is what results in publishers massively slashing prices in deals with Amazon and Apple.

In light of Kindle’s domination of the market, the panel was asked their views on the successes of alternatives in the future. To this Lossius responded that while Amazon is successful now, their closed business models will be their downfall.

Other Coverage:

Book Fair Blog: http://bit.ly/TxLaKt

Publishing Perspectives: http://bit.ly/XxvLhB

Publisher’s Weekly: http://bit.ly/PeIzdb

A Comprehensive Approach to Mobile Learning – A Professional Solution:

Centering around the notion that “mobility is in our natures”, the education expert giving this talk began with the argument that humans are used to moving and inherently adaptable to change. Students, she noted, find standard education systems boring, and with the increased consumption of digital media (80% of US Students have smart phones) technology can change this.

Her view is that education practices need to be adapted to take account of the way that students interact with media. Lessons need to be shorter, she argues, due to the fact that attention spans are short, and repetitions, as well as breaks between these are important.

Yet merely “refreshing” teaching practices using new media, is not sufficiently “comprehensive” in my opinion to warrant the title of the session. She focused only on tablet and smartphone classroom integration in the US, with no insights given to mobility and education in developing and emerging economies.

The State of Piracy in a Post MegaUpload World:

Given by an organisation calling themselves “Guardian for Books”, the session covered a service that they offer as a complement to DRM by allowing for added protection of copyright material. Their presentation played into the fears of all the publishers present, and their argument was that the only way to combat “continuous piracy” is with “continuous disruption” (where disruption is a takedown notice).

A highly unimaginative and closed minded approach to piracy and the potential solutions. The only interesting thing that he mentioned was that after Mega Upload was taken down, P2P downloads increased by 30%.

Metadata Goes Global:

This was a fantastic 3 hour workshop on metadata as a tool for publishers, given by industry leaders Laura Dawson (Bowker), and Brian O’Leary (Magellan Media Partners). My ticket was complimentary, despite a hefty $300 price tag, because the key speaker (Laura Dawson) is a Paperight champion.

The workshop was divided into 3 segments:

Getting metadata right
1. Where are we today?
  • Currently metadata is an incredibly labour intensive, manual process – especially for publishers.
  • It requires constant re-inspection “downstream”.
  • It can often be inconsistent, and is difficult to revise or update.

Vendors today are not necessarily booksellers, which means that the rules change. To back up these three points, Laura goes through a research case study they conducted over 10 retailers/vendors, to see how quickly metadata updates occur after it is disseminated.

The findings showed that the industry standard was for updates to occur within 2-5 business days (at leading retailers). They also found that certain types of data were updated more frequently than others. In order of update frequency: Page count, price, subtitle, description, on sale date, publication date, author (the later two data types hardly ever get updated).

2. What needs to change in the current system?

These delays are a result of systemic problems in the way that metadata is created, and can be averted if clear communication is occurring between retailers and publishers as to what format the metadata should be provided in, and how to optimise metadata workflow in order to reduce the problems created by the ‘lag’ (i.e: duplicates of small updates/overwriting of more complete data).

  • The system is not built for speed.
  • Most updates only take place in week 2.
  • The problems and delays are not for lack of trying, but as a result of time-consuming workflow processes.
  • There is the potential that this could get worse with new entrants to the market. New sites do not create complete and relevant data, which means the waters are further muddied.
3. How do we get ready?

Process recommendations:

  • Use “book in hand” (physical product) to gather local inhouse feedback.
  • Strengthen sender-recipients feedback loops (i.e: clearly communicate with publishers).
  • Ensure that there are shared definitions for core fields.
  • Articulate when updates occur, and what gets updated (and what doesn’t) to the sender.
  • Discuss what metadata is changed, added, and deleted.

Future-proofing metadata:

  • Collaborate to automate data workflows and compress cycle times (take some of the work out of it).
  • Prepare for more frequent updates (marketing metadata – awards etc.)
  • Harmonise print and digital metadata workflows.
  • Better manage the use of style tags (either limit, or eliminate them). Not all retailers can deal with the HTML styling, so be sure to provide data as text only.
4. What might we be missing?

Context (metadata) rules on the next plateau.

  • Increasingly open, accessible, interoperable.
  • Using context to promote discovery: It’s easy to publish a book (there are currently 32+ million in print) so you need to be able to differentiate your product.
  • Readers need to be given tools that help them manage abundance.

What is the next plateau? (Three trends we may be missing out on)

  • Global (effectively visible everywhere)
    • Online access makes every book visible, but many (most) markets can see and not buy. This makes consumers frustrated and can lead to piracy.
    • Readers don’t understand things like territorial rights. This is an outdated concept which delay the time to market and results in lost sales.
    • Pricing needs to make sense in a specific territory/market.
    • Digital customers are being alienated when they have to wait for content to be made available to them.
    • New delivery options are becoming increasingly important: DRM free formats, subscription based models, component or short-format sales, and pay-as-you-go rights.
  • Integrated metadata (tied to the product it describes)
    • The value of metadata is in how closely it is tied to the product it describes. This is already an issue in digital product sales (where the metadata is created after the fact and thus not as integrated.
    • There is a growing issue with rights sales, where the people doing the sales are not also doing the metadata.
    • Without integrated, granular metadata, this can result in a nightmare when trying to sell components.
    • While epub3 has a great metadata component, publishers are reluctant to use it because they do not want the metadata to be locked in a file (as it changes so regularly). They prefer to edit a feed, even though this does not aid discoverability.
  • Evolutionary (continual revision and capturing of metadata)
    • Increasingly metadata supports how consumers find books. Recipients of the data (e.g: retailers) contribute much of the metadata after publication: awards, prizes, “bestseller” status, endorsements, book tour data, refined reading and grade levels, as well as marketing collateral.
    • It is important to monitor chatter on social media and book specific platforms, and to know what’s being said about a book, and then use that metadata as an opportunity for discovery.
    • The key is complete, relevant, and consistent metadata, including cover images, and enhanced with analytics and SEO.
Making metadata effective

There are four different kinds of metadata (bibliographic, commercial, transactional, and merchandising), and these come from many different sources. In order to make each of these effective in their specific role, we need to be using them as keys for discovery.

  • ISBN numbers are prioritized by Google. Similarly the soon to be adopted ISTC and ISNI numbers will also be given authority.
  • Search algorithms also prioritize BIC and BISAC categories, as well as Amazon keywords/categories. It is important here to use 3-5 of these keywords, in order of relevance/importance for the best results.
  • SEO and  Adwords Keywords tools are incredibly useful.
  • Price changes are frequent and incredibly important. Make sure that these updates are happening timeously.
  • It is also important to describe your book’s relationship to other books, films, comparative works, other formats (and use the opportunity to highlight why yours is better).
  • Have a metadata repository where teams creating each of the different kinds of metadata listed above can edit and adapt the metadata so that you maintain a relevant and up to date record.
What can Paperight do with this?
  • As we grow, we need to make sure that metadata updates of existing content is occurring within 2-5 days of receiving updated data from the publisher.
  • We need to communicate clearly with publishers so that they can provide us with data in a format which is appropriate for Paperight. We try to make it simpler for them, but this makes it time-consuming for us and means that metadata updates take far too long.
  • Paperight staff book reviews could be added to the metadata for a book. The more of the books we read ourselves, the better our descriptive metadata will be.
  • Metadata descriptions need to be compiled from a variety of sources, and honed carefully (i.e: complete, relevant, and consistent metadata, including cover images, and enhanced with analytics and SEO).
  • ISBN, ISTC, and ISNI numbers, as well as BIC and BISAC categories should be prioritized. Keywords describing the book should be provided in order of relevance or importance.
  • “Related titles” should be provided, and connections between content items made.
  • Metadata repository.

Paperight – Publishers Discussions

[Redacted because this section contains others’ confidential business information]

Other potential leads:

  • US Embassy – See conversations with Matthew Utterback, he mentioned that they could be a good lead Africa as they do not currently have a strong distribution network for that material.
  • Unisa Press – Attempted to set a meeting with them, but was unable to connect due to conflicting schedules. I did however get the contact details for Elna Harmse (Director), and Andrew Joseph (Managing Editor: Journals), which we can use to set up a meeting to pitch Paperight in the future.
  • Higher Education Press – These are publishers of Chinese-language educational materials.  I was around when Snapplify chatted to them about creating Snapplify apps for their material. She then asked them if they also do “print-on-demand” solutions, at which point I jumped in and said that Paperight did. I have her contact details, and will send additional information regarding Paperight.

Feedback/Take-aways:

  • Having a stall ties you down as one team member has to constantly stay there. It also does not necessarily provide a strong ROI, as the people who we want to talk to are not usually going to be the ones walking up to stands.
  • Obviously, having more than one team member working the floor allows you to cover much much more ground – especially when these efforts are targeted and coordinated. The Snapplify team was able to generate 5x the leads that I was.
  • It is important to have a ‘hit list’ of publishers/people that you want to target, so you know who your big fish are. I did this to some extent, but could have done it better. I think this task is simpler when you have a clear idea of what the fair looks like, and who will be there, as well as a focused strategy around the leads you want to generate and nurture. This is something that I will work on for next year/time.
  • Info sheets would be useful to leave with publishers who you are talking to for the first time. A number of people actually asked me if I had an info sheet for them, especially towards the end when everything is mixing together in your brain, or when the decision makers have left and the minions cannot convey the ideas properly.

Project 1: core team and beta site: closing report

This project was to hire a core team, and build and launch a minimum-featured beta site with automated content licensing and acquisition.

General report-back

There were two major parts to this project:

  • get 1000 publications on Paperight.com, and
  • build a basic working site to replace the working demo site, adding instant document delivery.

We achieved the 1000-publications target on time (see the report on our blog for details). Reaching this target required research of product leads, sourcing of documents, compilation of metadata, and the listing of each product on Paperight.com, in addition to the prepping of documents for sale via the site. Our content manager Tarryn did a marvellous job of planning and driving this process. We brought in an intern, Michal Blazsczyk, who helped a lot with the legwork of getting this done.

We did not hire a software developer. During the recruitment process it became clear that we would build a better product faster if we contracted a software company rather than an in-house developer. So Arthur spoke to several software companies, discussing the project in detail with them. These were narrowed down to two companies – Realm Digital and Double Eye – who had built large book-selling sites for major clients before, and had a range of applicable in-house experience with the book industry and with automating PDF manipulation.

This process took three months. Ultimately, Realm Digital were chosen. Based on extensive interviews and discussions with contacts who’d worked with them, they offered better front-end design expertise and a more impressive track record.

We completed a functional specification for Paperight.com with them, based on which they drew up a full development costing. The costing was based on the fact that all code would belong to Paperight or be GPL-compatible. This meant Realm could not use proprietary tools they normally relied on, which raised development costs well beyond our project budget.

Depsite the high cost of developing with Realm, the process of finding them and developing the functional spec – which showed we had a good team understanding with them – convinced us that they were still the best way to get a slick, solid product built quickly. So we decided to close this project and apply for the software-development budget in a separate pitch document.

This means a large part of the funds in this project were not used, and can be released back into the pool.

Objectives achieved

1000 publications available for sale on Paperight.com.

An important first stage of software development was achieved: a thorough functional specification for Paperight 1.0 was created, along with UI designs, briefing documents and UX flow diagrams.

Objectives not achieved

We did not build software for instant PDF delivery.

To keep us going without this, we refined the existing site so that we could trade with it, and designed back-office workflows that allow us to manually deliver print-ready PDFs to clients within 24 hours.

Measures of success

Before: “We expect immediately to see our pilot-testing outlets respond positively to improvements in speed and ease of using the beta site over the prototype (WordPress-based) site”

After: We do not have the new site to do this comparison. This measure has been included in our Project 3 pitch.

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 the prototype site.”

After: As above, we cannot make a comparison yet, since we’re still using the original site. We did have two unassisted licence requests from unsolicited outlets. This small sample showed that the existing site can be used to run Paperight while we build instant document delivery in Project 3. The site visits by registered outlets cannot be measured with the current site, and we have not yet had repeat sales from those outlets that have bought licences.

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.”

After: Running the original site, we have had 15 outlet registrations, of which:

  • 11 were unsolicited
  • 6 are consumer-facing copy/print businesses
  • 4 are school teachers
  • 5 are private individuals (publishing/education professionals and parents of school-going children)

Budget

Original budget: R257000

Actual spend: R92500

Returned to pool: R164500

Item Budget Actual Return to pool Comments
Senior developer 160000 20520 139480 Spent on functional spec for Paperight 1.0
Content manager 48000 54720 -6720 VAT incurred since this was paid through EBW, who are VAT registered
Office space 24000 5760 Worked from Arthur’s home. Budget shifted to interns.
Interns 18240 Used office space budget to pay interns R4000 × 4 months: Michal Blazsczyk (Jan–Feb) and Nick Mulgrew (Mar–Apr)
Register Pty (Ltd) 6000 681 5319 Used a cheaper registration agency
Computers for 2 15000 7299 7701 Computer for Tarryn, but no developer
Software 0 Provided by EBW as planned
Printing costs at testing sites 4000 0 4000 Not used, since we didn’t have the new site to test.
TOTAL 257000 92500 101 460 155540

 

Outputs and deliverables

IP Author Owner
Metadata for and online listing of 1000 publications Paperight team (Arthur Attwell, Tarryn-Anne Anderson, Michal Blazsczyk, Nick Mulgrew) Paperight
Prepared PDFs for same 1000 publications Varies by document Content is public domain or content-specific rightsholders, packaged presentation owned by Paperight
Site design for Paperight 0.5 (WordPress) Original design by Elegant Themes Inc, heavily modified by Arthur Attwell Original design Elegant Themes Inc (licenced under GPLv2), modifications Arthur Attwell
Site code for Paperight 0.5 (WordPress) Auttomatic and others, modified by Arthur Attwell Various, licensed under GPLv2
UI, wireframes and briefing documents for Paperight 1.0 Arthur Attwell Arthur Attwell
Functional specification for Paperight 1.0 Realm Digital Arthur Attwell (in IP agreement between Realm Digital and Shuttleworth Foundation)
Cover thumbnail designs (220 as of 13 Mar 2012) Paperight team (Arthur Attwell, Tarryn-Anne Anderson, Michal Blazsczyk, Nick Mulgrew) Paperight
Workflow/process documents (hosted on the Paperight wiki) Paperight team (Arthur Attwell, Tarryn-Anne Anderson, Michal Blazsczyk, Nick Mulgrew) Paperight
Blog posts, including content report on first-1000-items Paperight team (Arthur Attwell, Tarryn-Anne Anderson, Nick Mulgrew) Paperight

 

Learnings

Regarding content, the surprising thing was how smoothly it went. This was largely due to Tarryn’s dogged determination and meticulous planning and execution. It’s also unlikely we would have made the deadline if it hadn’t been for intern Michal Blazsczyk. Michal approached Arthur out of the blue for an internship, and this was fortuitous. We’re glad that we had the opportunity to bring him on: in an industry where skills are rare, it’s important to be able to bring in talent when you see it.

Much of our content-related learning was operational: we learned a lot about the mixed quality of open sources of content, PDF technology, workflow best practice, and getting new team members up to speed fast using wiki-based ops manuals.

Regarding software, we learned from research early that hiring a software developer in-house is a huge risk: their productivity is impossible to predict, and all your eggs are in that one basket. Then we learned how long it takes to be sure you’ve found the right software development company. If we’d known it would take so long, Arthur would have pushed harder earlier, but the process is underpinned by a myth that ‘tomorrow we can start writing code’.

We also learned that the cost of building open software can be significantly higher than building software on proprietary platforms, where the development industry has come to rely on proprietary platforms for fast rollout and licence-based annuity income.

On the side of this project, we learned that – with the exception of a handful of small businesses – it is very difficult to get commercial publishers to agree to provide content until the business is trading with a proven footprint. This led us to focus on a great open-licensed and public-domain-based catalogue.

Exit/Sustainability/Viability

This project was the first step in a series of projects leading to overall sustainability for Paperight.

Conclusion

We definitely achieved our content objectives and we’re extremely pleased about that. We now have a great starting catalogue with which to promote Paperight (see project pitch 2). We also have a growing list of sources of further open content.

We didn’t get far enough with software development in the time we planned. While we’re very happy with the foundation we’ve laid (great suppliers, UI plans and functional spec), we didn’t get a chance to achieve and test some of our key software-related objectives. Those have now been transferred and refined in a new project (pitch 3).

Next steps

The next steps are to build the Paperight 1.0 software planned and specced in this project, and then to promote Paperight to outlets. Project pitch 3 continues the software work. Project pitch 2 is all about promotion, while continuing to build and refine the content catalogue.