Tag Archives: London Book Fair

O’Reilly titles go live, and we revise the publisher agreement

July’s big win was getting the O’Reilly books on Paperight. These textbooks were not prescribed at universities, but are an important and oft sought out  supplementary  resource for first year computer science students.  Once these were uploaded I contacted lecturers about the books, asking if they would promote these to students. We had some positive results (particularly from Stellenbosch University), but ultimately saw minimal sales conversions.

Following my return from the London Book fair, I met with Elsevier South Africa about getting their titles on Paperight. Other ongoing meetings and follow-ups included Random House Struik,  Modjaji Books, Jacana, SelfMadeHero, Cassava Republic, Jonathan Ball and Pluto Press. We facilitated the transfer of CUP titles and Accent Press titles, uploaded the first 14 HPMG journals (we put the rest on the backburner pending sales), and sourced missing metadata and covers from Do Sustainability.

I spent time working on CSS (Prince), and Arthur and I revised our rightsholder agreement using feedback from our negotiations with Pearson and O’Reilly Media. I also spent the day at Colour and Copy in Rondebosch, worked with Nick to organise POS advertising and flyers for them. I also completed a survey of the staff as per Yazeed’s request.

Publisher registrations

  • Livity Africa (9/7/2013)
  • Better Life Books (9/7/2013)
  • Accent Press (12/7/2013)
  • Bisel Classics (12/7/2013)
  • Fatai Oladapo (16/7/2013)
  • Ispirato (23/7/2013)
  • Filipe Santos (26/7/2013)


The anthology done, promising bulk sales, and a raft of coverage

We’ve been busy! On 31 May 2013 we finally completed the Paperight Young Writers Anthology, a collection of poetry, short stories, essays and illustrations from SA high school students in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Sesotho. (Blog post from early June here. Strategically, this is a marketing effort and a door-opener for selling books to schools.

We’ve also been churning out a range of marketing materials for copy shops, a new help/how-to video, and improved software features on paperight.com (e.g. A5 books).

We also made our first completed bulk-sale to a school, the first of an important revenue generating approach.


In mid April, Tarryn and Oscar attended the London Book Fair and pitched to win the Fair’s Digital Minds Innovation Award, which boosted our credibility at the fair and resulted in lots of great local PR. The attention from this win also helped conclude our deal with O’Reilly.

In late April I headed to Joburg for meetings with potential partner organisations, and in late May I was off to Boston to gather with the rest of the Shuttleworth Foundation crew.

Spreading the word

Spreading with word about Paperight and the things that are important to us is a key part of my work.

On 30 May 2013 I wrote a post on open business, arguing that openness starts in a company’s DNA, and focusing on transparency, which allows and encourages sharing and shared learning, and leads to greater effectiveness.

On 21 May 2013 I was interviewed on Publishing Perspectives, and explained why a paper-based solution is still critical for access to books and sales for publishers in developing markets.

On 17 April 2013 I did an interview on innovation and the future and Paperight, and on 7 March 2013 I did an interview with CNBC Africa about Paperight.

On 18 March 2013 I wrote a post on ‘Good writing is a pinnacle skill’, arguing that the many skills that go into good writing are an excellent indicator that a person will be a great hire. This has been a key part of my recruitment strategy at Paperight, and has helped us build a great team.

On 8 March 2013 I wrote about Pratham Books data on open licensing and book sales.

Others on board

All this talk is helping get people behind our cause. Here are three particularly nice pieces:

We’ve seen loads of great PR about our winning at O’Reilly Tools of Change in New York in Feb and London Book Fair Innovation Award in April, our Young Writers Anthology, and general Paperight coverage:

  • 1 March 2013: Daily News, “Vision to spread books around SA”.
  • 2 March 2013, CNBC Africa, Eye on Western Cape, “Paperight wins publishing innovation competition“
  • 2 March 2013, Burger (Kaap Platterland) Saturday, “Kaapse drukdiens oorsee bekroon”.
  • 6 to 7 March 2013, coverage of our Anthology in community newspapers: Athlone News, Plainsman, Southern Mail, Table Talk, “High school writers’ competition”, Tygertalk (Goodwood & Parow), Tygertalk (Bellville & Durbanville), Vukani, Southern Suburbs Tatler, Atlantic Sun, The Capetowner, Constantiaberg Bulletin, False Bay Echo, Sentinel News. A follow up the next week, 14 March 2013 in Vukani, “Shuttleworth to launch Young Writers Anthology”.
  • 19 March 2013, bizcommunity, “Free guide to studying at Unisa“ and Helderberg Gazette (“Free book helps students to pass”) cover our UNISA students’ guide ‘Now What’.
  • 22 March 2013, more community papers cover the forthcoming anthology: Coastal Weekly, De Aar Echo, Northcliff & Melville Times, Stanger Weekly.
  • 27 March 2013, Bandwidth Blog, “Local startup wins innovation award in NYC“.

In terms of key publishers joining our thinking by working with us:

Our roadmap for the next 3 months

We’re going to:

  • Continue our direct sales approach (bulk sales and CSR sponsorships) to stay on track with revenue targets.
  • Release and promote (mainly through PR) the Paperight Young Writers Anthology, building on the relationships this is creating with schools to grow sales of study guides and past exam-paper packs.
  • Complete a comprehensive marketing plan with the pro-bono help of Zoom Advertising and a group of MBA students working on Paperight’s marketing plan as a course project.
  • Implement concerted promotional campaign for our past matric exam packs.
  • Finalise and promote pending partnerships with chains Minuteman Press and PostNet.

Cambridge University Press signs up

I was away for much of May (on leave) and back in the office on the 20th. Nevertheless, it was an important month. When I returned, I countersigned the CUP agreement and the Carroll & Brown agreement. We fixed some bugs on the site, completed the Mindset Learn upload, and facilitated the transfer of some Pan Macmillan titles (The Youngsters series to start with).

I also continued with LBF follow up, and general publisher followups on loose administrative ends, trying to nudge towards registrations that had been promised, fielding questions from wary publishers (usually regarding piracy and DRM). In the LBF wrap up, we also completed a reconciliation of expenses for the trip, and I sent content proposals out to publishers I’d met at the fair, and who were interested in registering.

This month was also the end of Philippa’s time with us. She left her internship at Paperight to take two successive ones at the US Trademark Offices and the Copyright Clearance Center in Washington DC

UPDATE: Don’t worry, this is not the last you’ll hear of her! She came back!

Publisher Registrations

  • SelfMadeHero (7/5/2013)
  • Pressque Publishing (8/5/2013)
  • Masimba Musodza (9/5/2013)
  • Oxford University Press (13/5/2013)
  • Ilex Omni Publishing (15/5/2013)
  • Pillar International Publishing (21/5/2013)
  • Author jonah Becker (21/5/2013)
  • Geko Publishing (21/5/2013)
  • Graceworks (22/5/2013)
  • Gail Iris Rosslee (27/5/2013)
  • Panmacmillan SA (29/5/2013)
  • theInkSword (30/5/2013)
  • Botshelo Publishing (31/5/2013)

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)

Updates to Content Master and Helpsite (and launch of Now What?)

now-what_together-we-pass-paperight_cover_low-res_20130228Once we’d received student feedback on Now What?, Nick began the process of editing and typesetting the book. We paid Paul Carter for his writing work, and made some last minute updates of our own. By the end of the month, we’d finalised the design of the book, uploaded it to Paperight, and launched it on the Together We Pass network.

Throughout this process we continued to work with Mampoer to get high-res covers for their titles, as well as with publishers, like PUO, P-Ridge Press, College Campus, and Hesperian, following their registration. I created a mock-up for Future Managers to show them what their books would look like in Paperight’s format. We met with Dylan Wray of Shikaya about finding a way to work together (we greatly admire the work that they’re doing, but couldn’t find a shared purpose in our current contexts) with Nelleke of NB Publishers to catch her up on progress with Paperight, and signed a contract with New Africa Books.

Plans for London Book Fair were well under way. We continued to work alongside PASA to get sponsorship for Oscar to join me at the fair, and I began researching attendees and sending out meeting requests.

We had previously been working with offline spreadsheets, but found the updating and version control to have become difficult to manage with a growing team. A Google Spreadsheet provided more piece of mind that the sheet was current, and there was less opportunity for confusion.

Philippa began working on the first draft of the new helpsite pages, and then we later went on to edit, upload and add screenshots to these posts. In the meantime, I revised the Content Master spreadsheet (metadata repository), and loaded this as a shared resource on Google Docs. We had previously been working with offline spreadsheets, but found the updating and version control to have become difficult to manage with a growing team. A Google Spreadsheet provided more piece of mind that the sheet was current, and there was less opportunity for confusion.

Publisher registrations

  • Hesperian (12/2/2013)
  • Bright Girl Books (19/2/2013)
  • AOTA Press (20/2/2013)