Tag Archives: University Prescriptions

2012–2013 analytics analysis

Arthur was away for a bit, and so I took his place in a Smart Monkey Interview with Russel Southwood:

Part of our focus on university prescriptions meant ensuring that prescribed English and Classics setworks that were already available on Paperight were reformatted. I drew up a list and progress chart for the reformatting of these texts, and Philippa began the process of scrubbing the HTML for those titles. In the meantime, I continued to hack away at the CSS for the automated HTML-to-PDF conversion, to fix compatibility issues that had arisen when we switched over from Prince XML to DocRaptor. And, I continued testing the PDF-to-Paperight-PDF document conversion software on dev. Oscar continued to work on the university prescriptions list, completing the data and making sure that it was updated for 2014.

On our other content-generation fronts: Andi began an internship with us, working on the grade 11 and 12 question bank. Our conversations with Susanne Collins’ agent were going well, and our next step was to secure funding for the project.

I tried to set up a meeting with OUP to discuss reading tree books and expanding their catalogue, met with Hyreath from Juta, and sent her our contract and additional information. We also had further contact with Elsevier, WHO and Jacana about contracts and content, and set up a CoreSource channel to deal with RHS doc transfers.

Near the end of December, I did a comparison of analytics from 2012 to 2013. This included an analysis of traffic to paperight.com, taking into account both the total visits (including recurring users) and unique visits. As the current version of the Paperight site only went live in May 2012 (marked in the data by a *), all data for August 2011–April 2012 is for the earlier version of the site.


Fig 1.1 Overview of total visits from 2011–2013.

In comparing data from 2012 and 2013 it is clear that:

  • There is an overall increase in volume of traffic from 2012 to 2013
  • There are two definite dips, and two peaks in site traffic each year
  • Dips occur in June/July, and December each year
  • In 2012, the peaks for visits occurred in February and March, and again in October and November.
  • In 2013, the peaks for visits occurred in May and October, with two smaller peaks also occurring in February and August.
2011 2012 2013
Jan NA 369 1979
Feb NA 1282 2499
Mar NA 1613 2141
Apr NA 1078 2812
May NA 1211* 3999
Jun NA 950 3041
Jul NA 1349 2467
Aug 12 1398 3054
Sep 185 1264 2494
Oct 334 2319 4363
Nov 215 2460 2779
Dec 203 727 672

Fig 1.2 Figures for total visits to www.paperight.com from 2011–2013.

2011 2012 2013
Jan NA 302 1454
Feb NA 1120 2071
Mar NA 1420 1663
Apr NA 871 2076
May NA 871* 3110
Jun NA 567 2289
Jul NA 875 1793
Aug 10 810 2455
Sep 166 964 1993
Oct 239 1765 3622
Nov 157 1857 2207
Dec 125 309 469

Fig 1.3 Overview of unique visits to www.paperight.com from 2011–2013.

In analysing the license sales for the period from May 2012 to December 2013, it was necessary to show the number of copies sold per completed transaction each month. Transactions marked in red are the result of inhouse testing, those in green are actual sales.


Fig 2.1 Overview of actual vs. test license sales from 2011–2013.

In comparing data from 2012 and 2013 it is clear that:

  • There are peaks in May, July (Pelikan Park and Silverstream) and September (Kwamatua High and Tambalethu) of 2013, both as a result of sponsorship deals.
  • While in 2012 we had fairly high organic sales in August and October, we did not see these happening in 2013. The majority of these sales came from Silulo branches.
  • Graph also shows that actual sales in June and July 2012 were roughly the same. Spike was as a result of inhouse testing.

A comparison of license sales data to site traffic:


Fig 2.2 Overview of site traffic vs. license sales from 2011–2013.

  • The most interesting thing to note here is that high traffic volumes do not result in high sales. In fact, both years, almost every peak in sales is in a month where traffic is lower.
2011 2012 2013
Jan NA NA 16
Feb NA NA 25
Mar NA NA 170
Apr NA NA 44
May NA 22 398
Jun NA 76 72
Jul NA 121 861
Aug NA 228 84
Sep NA 82 1410
Oct NA 186 44
Nov NA 173 25
Dec NA 20 10

Fig 2.3 Overview of license sales on www.paperight.com from 2012–2013.

For interest sake: here is a breakdown of sales per province.


Fig 2.4 Overview of license sales per province from 2012–2013.

Publisher registrations

  • Niz Publications (2/12/2013)
  • Vij Books India Pvt Ltd (14/12/2012)

Frankfurt Book Fair and CONTEC Startup Showcase win

October saw us participating in the CONTEC Startup Showcase in Frankfurt. The showcase formed part of the CONTEC Conference which was attended by industry leaders in digital publishing, and focused on the connection between content and technology. Paperight was expected to offer a 3-minute pitch, against five other innovative start-ups in digital publishing. We were selected as the winner of the showcase by a panel of judges.

As was the case after our London Book Fair win, the discussions had after the award announcement, and in the tea breaks just before, were very productive, with a lot of excitement about our project and aims. In particular, the Brazilian publishers in attendance (Brazil was to be the market-focus for the book fair that year) were very enthusiastic about the possibilities for Paperight in the Brazilian and wider South American market.

My focus for the fair was on publishers who could provide content that was in line with our current marketing focus. Namely, early childhood development materials (for children) and research (for teachers/caregivers), core textbooks and study materials for grades 10, 11 and 12 learners, core reading material for first and second year university level students, and trade fiction for young adults.

I had many productive conversations, and furthered negotiations with several big publishers (including Elsevier, Harlequin, and Bloomsbury). While I was optimistic about the possibility for Bloomsbury signing on with us, and while they were very receptive in our meetings, they later decides to hold off until after their South African distributors, Jonathan Ball, had had a chance to pilot the system.

We continually found that it was imperative to follow up on marketing material like this, be it with outlets, or schools, as often things would fall through the cracks otherwise.

While I was away, Philippa held the fort, and continued the process of uploading documents in the backlog queue, and Marie completed content tagging. Following my return from the fair, I completed the usual feedback reports, and followed up on the posters we’d distributed to schools (to make sure these had been put up and the flyers handed-out). We continually found that it was imperative to follow up on marketing material like this, be it with outlets, or schools, as often things would fall through the cracks otherwise. Dez and I also completed the Gifted Citizen Award Application on Arthur’s behalf.

Given the difficulties in getting content timeously, specifically as a result of the long lead time when signing publishers, we revisited the discussions (recurring over the last year) of creating our own content. It was around this time that we had been talking to Pearson about making their backlist (some of which included important African literature titles) on Paperight, only to find that this would not be possible due to the fact that font-licensing issues meant that these would have to be re-typeset, and the cost of this was just not a viable option. In our in house discussions about increasing the pool of books published/available in African languages, we began to envision a translation project for popular international YA titles into isiZulu and isiXhosa. This lead to my applying for rights to translate Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games (a project that is still on going). Another of our projects for content creation revolved around matric exams, and the fact that the changes in curriculum meant that past exam papers would no longer be as relevant for students. We contacted Siyavula about a collaborative project to develop a bank of open CAPS-aligned maths questions for grades 11 and 12, but while supportive of the endeavour, their current commitments precluded any involvement on their part. Instead, we looked into hiring an intern to assist us in the creation of a question bank.

We’d increasingly been concerned that we were not close enough to reaching sustainability, and we’d ultimately need to shrink the team in order to extend the funding runway.

October was also the month in which we decided to plan for and prioritise a university marketing campaign as a “Blaze of Glory”, last ditch effort to see if we could gain enough traction in the university market to avoid having to make a serious pivot within the next six months. We’d increasingly been concerned that we were not close enough to reaching sustainability, and we’d ultimately need to shrink the team in order to extend the funding runway. As a team we started brainstorming the #textbookrevolution. Part of this planning lead to us focussing our attention on university prescriptions. I set up a database of prescriptions, and worked with Oscar to flesh this out.

Publisher Registrations

  • Short Story Day Africa (25/10/2013)
  • Jacana Media (30/10/2013)
  • A Poet’s Tree (30/10/2013)