Readersforum's Blog

March 4, 2013

The Future For Bookshops Is To Pave The Cowpaths

arthur-attwell_toc_disruptive-innovations_20130211-paperight-charts2By Suw Charman-Anderson

Paperight, a South African start-up, could be clearing a path for bookshops internationally to expand their reach without having to open new bricks-and-mortar stores. The Shuttleworth-funded operation acts as a facilitator for publishers in South Africa to get their books printed, on demand, in copy shops, which are ubiquitous and more accessible than bookshops.

Founder and CEO Arthur Attwell, explains Paperight’s background:

South Africa is like two different countries: about 2 million wealthy people who support the publishing industry (excluding schools publishing, where the state is the largest client by far), and about 48 million people who could never afford an ereader, don’t have credit cards to buy things online, or can’t afford to physically travel to a bookstore. So to make it possible for most people to read books, we need to totally rethink how we sell books. And that’s going to take some disruptive innovations.

So instead of trying to get more South Africans online or using ereaders, Attwell saw that it was cheaper and easier to improve access to printed books. Copy shops were already being used to photocopy books illegally, so it was clear that there was already demand for such a service. Attwell told Ventureburn:

African countries have very few bookstores and ebooks are spreading very slowly. Photocopy shops, however, are everywhere, and in most places in Africa, they provide an important social function by photocopying books that people need, but can’t find or can’t afford to buy. Paperight was started to help legalise that process.

Publishers have embraced the idea, writes Kevin Anderson* on Knowledge Bridge:

Before Paperight, publishers would see the copy shop activity as piracy and lost sales. Paperight delivered a way for them to convert illegal activity into legal sales. With this compelling case, Paperight has already signed up 40 publishers and offers 1400 titles, including text books, study materials, literary classics, magazines and even sheet music. The start-up first approached copy shop chains to grow their distribution network as quickly as possible. The barrier to become a Paperight outlet is low. Copy shops only need to go to and register their shop. Paperight is now available in 145 outlets in South Africa.

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September 11, 2012

Choosing your first ereader

  By Arthur Attwell

So you’ve decided that that many people can’t be wrong: it’s time to get an ereader. But which one? The industry of ereaders and other mobile devices is filled with big and small companies promising you the world, and you don’t trust half of it. The cruel truth is that no one can tell you exactly what’s best for you. Everyone’s preferences are different. You simply have to figure it out for yourself, and this might be an expensive journey. That said, if you’re going to take the plunge, here’s my two cents’ worth. It might help you dodge a few bullets along the way.

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September 25, 2011

Reinventing the library

Publishers should see e-book-lending services as part of the evolving ecosystem in which they can play a constructive role, says World Wide Worx MD, Arthur Goldstuck.

By Lezette Engelbrecht

There’s an old Arabic proverb that reads: “He who lends a book is an idiot. He who returns the book is more of an idiot.” But in a world where reading material is coming from every direction, even long-time book lovers are finding it easier to let go.

Which means Amazon’s plan to release an e-book lending service might smack more of genius than idiocy. Based on Netflix’s film-rental model, the service could see a profound shift in the book industry, with titles being accessed for a limited period at low cost rather than purchased to keep.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the e-commerce giant hopes to make a selection of its nearly one million titles available to an estimated five million ‘Prime’ subscribers.

At present, Prime subscribers pay $79 a year for free two-day shipping of merchandise and access to 5 000 movies and TV shows – and if Amazon’s plans go ahead, to thousands of e-books as well. However, only older titles will be available and subscribers would only be able to ‘check out’ a few titles each month.

Amazon is still in talks with publishers, which are already struggling to cope with disruptions in the book ecosystem. While publishers will be paid a substantial amount for joining the service, many reportedly feel it would lower the value of books if they are rented, rather than being bought.

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says the e-book lending concept fills a huge gap in the market and acknowledges a key aspect of the reader community. “The move from books to e-books may have completely transformed the industry, but the lending and sharing of books has always been part of the culture of reading.

“There’s no question that the service will work – a lot of book clubs are starting to read e-books and buy e-readers, and this could support that reader community.”

The release of the Kindle e-reader has resulted in Amazon now selling more e-books than it does physical copies, with subscribers able to download as many books as they like for an annual fee.

Arthur Attwell, founder of Electric Book Works and Paperight, says while the details of Amazon’s plan aren’t clear yet, similar approaches have paid off in other industries. “It’s been very successful for music for a couple of companies, like Spotify, which allows you to stream music without necessarily buying it.

“But it hasn’t been successful for every music company, so it’s not necessarily that the model works, it really depends on the company executing it – and Amazon rarely fails.” more

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