Tag Archives: Worldreader

Footnote Summit and investment discussions

On the tail-end of our frustration at the long lead time in getting publishers signed up, Arthur was asked to speak at the Footnote Summit. He spoke at the summit about the tough truths we’d learned about selling to publishers. His talk was very well received, and while we were concerned that the points we covered might be taken badly, it seemed that they resonated with those championing the cause in their larger publishing companies (it even prompted a long-awaited registration or two).

One of the outcomes of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October was that I met two potential funders for Paperight. In November, Arthur and I had conversations with both of these leads. While, ultimately these discussions did not lead anywhere, it was incredibly useful to find out what potential investors are interested in, and what kinds of questions they are likely to ask.

I continued to work on our translation project applications, meeting with partners who may be able to offer advice on moving forward. We were turned down by JK Rowling’s agents, who were reluctant to move ahead with a new distribution model, but who invited us to reapply when we could work around those concerns (or relieve them). We facilitated the transfer of Future Managers’ titles, uploaded Xhosa Fundis titles, signed on with Worldreader to distribute the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology on their platform, started planning an #authorsforaccess campaign with Marie (this later went onto the backburner), and tested document conversions using automated PDF-PDF.

Publisher Registrations

  • Passion (2/11/2013)
  • Lorisha Educational Publishing (4/11/2013)
  • Bunya Publishing (13/11/2013)
  • Wordsmack Publishing (14/11/2013)
  • Lorca Damon (15/11/2013)
  • Siber Ink Publishers (20/11/2013)


More progress, and a letter from Parliament

In February 2013 the team published a great little book called Now what? A guide to studying with Unisa. Here’s our blog post about it.  We also produced a printable Paperight catalogue.

While the team was hard at work, I travelled to New York for the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference, where we won the Startup Showcase, and I gave a talk on ‘Disruptive Innovations in Emerging Markets: Mxit [book projects including Yoza], Siyavula, Paperight and Worldreader’, along with Michael Smith of Worldreader. (This was covered nicely by PaidContent.)

I also gave a talk in Jan at TEDxAIMS in Jan called ‘Tech spreads slowly.’ Here’s the video and text.

I reproduced that as a post on the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader blog.

Media coverage

We’ve been happy to see lots of coverage. Some highlights:

The highlight was that on 28 Feb 2013 The National Assembly of South Africa (Parliament) congratulated Paperight!


Here are the minutes from the Government Gazette:

8. The Chief Whip of the Opposition moved without notice: That the House –
(1) notes that Paperight, a Cape Town based print-on-demand company received the O’Reilly Tools of Change Start-Up Showcase’s award for Most Entrepreneurial Publishing Start-Up in New York City on 14 February 2013;
(2) further notes that Paperight, a company funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, received this award for its ingenious solution to widespread book shortages in the developing world through a service that allows photocopy shops to legally print books, consisting of more than 200 registered independent outlets in South Africa;
(3) recognises that Paperight was one of 10 finalists, the only company nominated outside the United States of America and Europe and the first ever to come from South Africa;
(4) acknowledges the difficulty that millions in South Africa face in
accessing published works;
(5) further acknowledges the importance of making published works
easily accessible to millions of people throughout Africa; and
(6) congratulates Paperight and encourages publishers to register with Paperight in making their works accessible to all. Agreed to.

Our roadmap for the next 3 months

Next up:

  • Promotional campaigns around the Paperight Young Writers Anthology, the Now What? UNISA guide, and planning promotional campaigns around healthcare and young-adult titles.
  • Boost content team to clear the backlog of books we have, including over 150 student guides for distance-learning university College Campus.
  • Complete negotiations with two major US publishers (O’Reilly, Harlequin) that have been ongoing for a long time.
  • Aim to sign MOU (or similar) with Postnet.
  • Last phase (Phase 3) of software feature development, including A5 printing, high-res covers, and VAT support.

We’re on track with our early-stage financial targets.