Project Dagobah & The Great Content Drive of 2011

I started at Paperight, as employee number one, on the 1st of November 2011. My mandate for the first four months on the Paperight Team was to get 1000 content items on to Paperight. The mission was code-named Project Dagobah, because who doesn’t love a little Star Wars?

International rights/sales managers needed more time to get familiar with the Paperight model, and we needed content as soon as possible. We decided that the most productive way forward would be to focus on public domain and open access material, and to grow our list of licensed content once we had an already established list.

I began by working with setwork lists, and approaching the rights departments of relevant publishing houses. It soon became apparent that this strategy was not going to work. International rights/sales managers needed more time to get familiar with the Paperight model, and we needed content as soon as possible.

We decided that the most productive way forward would be to focus on public domain and open access material, and to grow our list of licensed content once we had an already established list. To this end I began to draw up a list of 1000 open and public domain titles from www.gutenberg.org and www.internetarchive.org.

our-first-booksWhen I started, Arthur had already signed up a couple of publishers (our early champions). So, during this first month I also facilitated the receipt of files from EBW and The Professional and Higher Learning, and created individual posts for each of these to serve as product pages on the site. This first version of the site was hacked together in WordPress, and required manual order fulfillment via email. We called it version 0.5.

Part of my work at this stage was also learning how to approach publishers myself. I shadowed Arthur, and attended meetings with him.

Publishers approached

  • Siyavula (via email, with an intro from Arthur)
  • Faber (via email)
  • Heineman (via email)
  • Penguin SA (via email)
  • Harper Collins (via email)
  • Lexis Nexis (via email)
  • Jonathan Ball (via email)
  • Haynes (via email)
  • Juta (via email)
  • Pearson (via email)
  • WITS University Press (via email)
  • Future Managers (in person, with Arthur)

Publisher registrations (existing)

  • The Professional and Higher Partnership (10/10/2011)
  • Carolyn Jewel (6/10/2011)
  • Electric Book Works (6/10/2011)

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