Printing challenges and the state of content come December 2012

The high cost of colour printing was a constant challenge for us, especially when it came to children’s books, which were the primary priority for an organisation like The Shine Centre. Additionally, The Shine Centre needed us to get the price of each book under R35.00, which was easy when it came to monochrome printing, but very difficult in the case of colour.

Throughout December I continued communication with OUP about the potential for making their African literature list available on Paperight (a project that Oscar spearheaded), as well as following up with other publishers. We also sent printed product samples to The Shine Centre, a literacy organisation which we really like, and wanted to find a way to work with. The high cost of colour printing was a constant challenge for us, especially when it came to children’s books, which were the primary priority for an organisation like The Shine Centre. Additionally, The Shine Centre needed us to get the price of each book under R35.00, which was easy when it came to monochrome printing, but very difficult in the case of colour. We’re still working on this in 2014, and are hopeful that machines like the RISO ComColour will make a difference in this space.

many outlets don’t put posters up even when you’ve sent them the marketing materials, and need to be constantly reminded and chased

I facilitated the first Random House Struik file transfer and upload, and we experimented with a targeted RHS marketing campaign in select outlets. We learnt from the latter that many outlets don’t put posters up even when you’ve sent them the marketing materials, and need to be constantly reminded and chased. Once they had all put up the posters in stores (which took several weeks), we did not see great sales numbers. What we found was that the most productive way to generate sales early on is through organised bulk sales and school sponsorship deals, and not necessarily via more passive advertising.

now-what_together-we-pass-paperight_cover_low-res_20130228Another of our proposed content creation projects was Now What?, a guide for students who were studying through UNISA. We teamed up with Together We Pass to produce the booklet, with the understanding that we would manage the project management and costs, and in turn they would advertise the booklet and help to distribute it to their affiliated UNISA students. For us, the project was about showing UNISA that Paperight could be a useful mechanism for UNISA students. We began by having a general hacking session to decide on the outline and general structure, and then I drew all of this together into a detailed brief and content outline.

At the end of 2012, given the launch of Paperight 1.0 and that the content catalogue had to be rebuilt almost from scratch, I did an analysis of the listed content that we had put on Paperight since May. This had also shifted from primarily Creative Commons licensed and public domain works (on Paperight 0.5), to include titles from a total of 36 publishers who had since registered. We continued to have a large base of CC-licensed and public domain material, but this has been supplemented by contemporary African and South African fiction, academic work, study-guides, and teachers resources.

The graph below roughly illustrates, based on year of publication, the composition of the Paperight catalogue in comparison to that of the database in February 2012. It illustrates that we grew our proportion of contemporary, licensed titles. The drop in public domain titles here, is a result of the fact that some of our earlier public domain texts have not yet been processed for upload on Paperight 1.0.

Since February we had nearly doubled our acquired content, and had increased the amount of documents that have been processed for automatic download tenfold. As of December 20th, there were 1146 processed documents listed on the site, with 771 documents awaiting processing.

As of December 20th, there were 1146 processed documents listed on the site, with 771 documents awaiting processing.

The following data visualisations provide an overview of the percentage of books per genre. The second and third charts show the composition of sub-genres within two of the primary genres of ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’.

These titles encompass a wide range of themes in the social sciences, both of an academic and general nature. These include books on politics (political parties and parliamentary politics), history, civil society and  mass media. There is a also a strong collection of African biographies and memoirs, African poetry and plays, African literary criticism and a broad collection of books on conservation and environmental issues. There is also an incredible collection of books on higher education, especially in Africa. Some of the books in our collection (especially books on African philosophy, the biographies and seminal works by past and contemporary African intellectuals) are not as easily available anywhere else in South Africa as they are on Paperight.  There are also books on cellphone culture in Africa,  African popular culture, books on gender and a wide-range of popular and literary fiction.

Publisher registrations

  • Parktown Publishers (10/12/2012)

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