Final chapter for award-winning SA publishing startup Paperight


Paperight, a print-on-demand startup based in Cape Town, is ceasing operations this month. According to founder Arthur Attwell, the publisher ran out of cash.

“We just couldn’t sell enough books to keep our doors open,” Attwell writes on the Paperight Blog.

Paperight was originally founded six years ago, and was an attempt to reduce the high price of printed books in South Africa. Attwell and his team built up a library of books which could be downloaded and printed under licence at any copyshop which was a member of the Paperight scheme. The principle was highly lauded, and won funding from The Shuttleworth Foundation as well as a prestigious innovation award at the London Book Fair last year.

Attwell tried several business models to make Paperight work, including downsizing the team earlier this year and focussing on the student market. Last month the company attempted to expand internationally by giving away 20 free credits to the first five print shops who opened in a new territory outside of South Africa.

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“I still believe in [the] idea, but I’m sad that we couldn’t make it viable at scale,” Attwell writes.

“Right now, there are over 200 Paperight-member print shops around South Africa. They’ve sold thousands of books. We’d love to see Paperight print shops in other countries, too. So, till the end of the year, we’re offering 20 free credits (worth $20) to the first five print shops that register in any new country.”

But Attwell isn’t disappearing from the publishing world altogether. He told htxt.africa that he’s planning to analyse Paperight’s failings and successes in greater detail over time, and writes that “I remain dedicated to reimagining publishing for emerging markets. I’ll be focusing on Bettercare, my open-access healthcare publishing, and nurturing the Book Dash children’s book initiative.”

On a Book Dash day, teams work as fast as possible to make beautiful children’s books that anyone can translate, print and distribute. Attwell created a Thundafund to deliver 15 000 books to children who have none – so click here and help them out.

[Source – Paperight]

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