Tag Archives: Diann Selman

All’s fair in books and war, I mean, competitions

April’s main preoccupation was preparing for the Digital Minds conference startup innovation contest. It was the first time that anyone other than Arthur had presented Paperight to a large audience, and Oscar and I were planning on being a well-oiled machine by the time we got on stage. We wrote and re-wrote our respective speeches, and practiced until we were reciting the speech in our sleep.

In amongst that, we spent time chatting with Pearson Future Technologies about a meeting in London; Yazeed and I met with UWC library about incorporating Paperight into their library services; I met with Macmillan again; and we had a debriefing meeting with TWP to talk about the progress of Now What?

While I was at the Book Fair, and once it was over, the team was focused on processing of Mindset Learn materials, and sourcing missing content and cover images. Diann was working on ABC titles, Philippa and I on Mindset and College Campus titles, and updating of Matric Exam Packs (including uploading new PDFs and updating metadata), and New Africa Books. Oscar was in the process of mapping curated categories to Amazon categories, general curation duties, and updating of page extents and descriptions on content master, and content tagging.

On Sunday the 14th of April, Oscar and I arrived in London, only to find that they would only allow one of us to present on stage. We reworked the speech, and I delivered it solo at the Digital Minds Innovation Showcase – though Oscar’s presence still very much came through in his story, and it was good to see his reassuring face in the audience!. 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.

After our win, everything else seemed easy! Oscar and I attended the fair from the 15th to the 17th April. Our aim was to build on existing publisher relationships and approach new publishers. Additionally, we were to pitch Paperight as part of the Digital Minds Innovation Showcase at the Digital Minds Conference 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).

The overall response to Paperight was very positive, and we signed our contract with O’Reilly Media at the fair: a fact that was reported in the show-news for the day.

Post Fair, I focused on follow ups and Base Admin, as well as completing a feedback report for the team, the Shuttleworth Foundation, and the DTI.

Publisher registrations

  • New Africa Books (2/1/2013)
  • Health and Medical Publishing Group (15/4/2013)
  • Do Sustainability (17/4/2013)
  • Cambridge University Press (17/4/2013)
  • HiSpeed Ltd (18/4/2013)
  • Eduskills Rainbow (18/4/2013)
  • Ses’fikile Press (19/4/2013)
  • Wide Margin (23/4/2013)
  • Granny’s Books Publishing (23/4/2013)
  • O’Reilly Media (24/4/2013)
  • On Target Publishing (25/4/2013)
  • By Light Unseen Media (25/4/2013)
  • Agang SA (26/4/2013)
  • MWS Media (27/4/2013)
  • CinnamonTeal Publishing (29/4/2013)
  • Ingrid Andersen (29/4/2013)
  • The Peacock Book Publishing (30/4/2013)
  • Ampelon (30/4/2013)

Two anthologies start to take shape

March brought the first flood of anthology submissions. I triaged these from team email to Oscar, who then catalogued the entries. Once we’d received the influx, we set about organising an Anthology hack day to wade through submissions, read, and complete the first round of judging. While we’d have many sessions like this, I was only involved in the first few before I went to London, and then on leave.

In the spirit of writing competitions, we also met with Rachel Zadok to discuss Short Story Day Africa. Given that many of our team members are published or aspiring writers themselves, it was a project we were keen to be a part of. Paperight took on the sponsorship of the design and typesetting of the anthology, with the requirement that it be made available on Paperight after publication.

Our ongoing work with publishers included meetings with Cambridge University Press, Harlequin, Modjaji,  and Do Sustainability. I finalised my London Book Fair meetings. And we tried approaching publishers on ADvTech’s list of prescribed books (though we received no response).

We also worked on A Life, for New Africa Books. I finalised the epub and mobi versions.  Diann came in to do some freelance work.  I correspondence with Caitlin about her freelance work on the College Campus prep, oversaw Philippa’s CSV creation, and sourced missing information where necessary.

Publisher registration

  • Chris van Rensburg (7/3/2013)
  • Calm In Storm (18/7/2013)

Setting up the help site and content leads list

We began the month with a quality control of the African Books Collective documents to double check them before uploading, archived the files, and uploaded them via CSV bulk upload. By the end of July we had 829 titles listed on Paperight.

By the end of July we had 829 titles listed on Paperight.

Ra’eesa (in the pic here) and Diann finished their time at Paperight by working on a list of content leads, and setting up the help site, respectively. I created a spreadsheet for Ra’eesa and began by sending her the emails and notes we had been keeping about potential content leads, and she spent time capturing all of these as part of maintaining an ongoing database (this is a task that Oscar would pick up later, when he joined us). Arthur set up the Paperight Help site, and Diann used the manual Nick and I wrote earlier in the year to create posts to assist outlets in using the Paperight service.

Having a help site was the preferable option as it allowed us to link to posts on specific issues in an email, rather than having to explain each time, or expect busy outlet managers to read through an entire manual to find the solution to the one problem they were having.

We’d learnt that outlets were not downloading and printing out the manual for reference, as we had expected them to. Instead, they would call or email us each time they had a query. Having a help site was the preferable option as it allowed us to link to posts on specific issues in an email, rather than having to explain each time, or expect busy outlet managers to read through an entire manual to find the solution to the one problem they were having. The help site itself had step-by-step instructions, and screenshots, on things like registering as a Paperight outlet, buying a license, or boosting your business with Paperight.

We also spent time prepping Communist University modules, OUP study guides, and Paperight Editions. Caitlin split some exam packs as per Silulo’s request. We tested the splitting of exam packs with seven subjects: Accounting, Life Sciences, Maths, Maths Lit, Physical Science, Business Studies, and History.

I wrote and submitted a research concept note for a joint EBW and Paperight project, but we were not selected for funding.

Publishers registered

  • Burnet Media (13/7/2012)
  • Kebooks (16/7/2012)
  • ZIM-BUKS (21/7/2012)
  • BookBox Inc (23/7/2012)
  • MSED (25/7/2012)

Prepping books, books, and more books

Ra'eesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather
Diann Selman
Diann Selman

We hired two new interns in June to assist with the processing and upload of the African Books Collective material. I set up a workflow process, and offered support and instruction as they implemented it. By the end of June, they had finished processing all 385 titles, and these were ready for upload.

Having Diann and Ra’eesa to work on the processing of those documents meant that I could focus my energies on the language exam packs. We conducted a full audit of papers we were missing, and filled in these gaps where we could. These were all processed and loaded onto the site by 15th.

In the final week of June we had loaded a total of 279 products on to Paperight 1.0.

Caitlin continued to prep Paperight Editions over this period. I did the administrative work behind the scenes to organise files and transfer these to her. In the final week of June we had loaded a total of 279 products on to Paperight 1.0.

We also began to work on the ideas and budgets for Paperight’s first online advertising campaign. The aim was to provide a link back on Facebook that would direct interested students and parents to their nearest outlet. This campaign launched at the end of the month, with a set of Facebook ads which linked the user to a ‘tab’ on Facebook that included an ordering process and an outlets map.

Other administrative work included loading all registered publishers on the wiki, for ease of reference, creating a scripted process for dealing with new registrations, filming and editing of Arthur’s reapplication video due, and facilitating the transfer of OUP study guides.

Publishers approached

  • Oxford University Press (Arthur and Tarryn met with)

Publishers registered

  • Hedaaya Publications (11/6/2012)
  • Big Bug Books (13/6/2012)
  • Gabbema Publishing (17/6/2012)
  • Skawara News (28/6/2012)