In April I attended my first SABA (South African Booksellers Association) meeting with Arthur. At this meeting I learned what was happening behind the scenes in the bookselling industry and how necessary it is for a distribution channel like Paperight to exist. Booksellers are no longer making enough money to remain profitable enough to hold on to their investors and were switching to e-books out of desperation instead of innovation. A Paperight-like model may well end up being the only way for consumers to get their hands on hard copies of books.
I took my first ever trip to Johannesburg where I had meetings with Minuteman Press, Jetline, Postnet and Konika Minolta at their respective head offices. We managed to strengthen our relationships with them. Postnet had agreed to go ahead and register all of their branches nationwide with Paperight. Sadly, the person who had the meeting with us left Postnet soon after this meeting, which resulted in this process being postponed.
Tarryn and I also had a meeting at UWC Library Services after the bindery service registered as a Paperight outlet. In order for the bindery service to top up their accounts, we need to be a registered vendor at the University and they would need to determine how much of their budget would be allocated towards topping up. The bureaucracy of the process that needed to be taken by the bindery and the Library service in general seemed to have slowed the process down to a standstill.
After delivering the past matric exam packs to Pelican Park High, there was a significant interest in the exam packs from those students and parents who didn’t purchase them earlier in the year. Within two weeks, I was contacted by Pelican Park High and requested to collect a second order form for exam packs which was duly paid for, printed and delivered to the school.
Publishers were giving us low quality products to sell, with the intention of testing out our system before giving more high-value products. And outlets’ staff was turning away Paperight customers.
Meanwhile we realised that we had two big problems with our distribution model. Publishers were giving us low quality products to sell, with the intention of testing out our system before giving more high-value products. And outlets’ staff was turning away Paperight customers. To remedy this we began a competition which granted R1000 for the top outlet sales person every month. The aim was to incentivise the system for the outlet staff.
We also determined that by building closer relationships with Publishers they would perhaps be more willing to trust us with their more high value publications. We proposed an indoor soccer match against Random House Struik to build rapport with them. Paperight lost the match (in the dying moments!) but, we managed to take some time to relax (something which we struggle to do) and work at the same time.