A Cape-based start-up company has made history.
The company was named as a winner of one of the world’s most prestigious publishing innovation competitions.
Paperight, a Cape Town-based print-on-demand service that allows photocopy shops to legally print books, was one of three winners of the O’Reilly Tools of Change Start-up Showcase, held last Thursday in New York City.
Also, Paperight, which is funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, was chosen by a panel of esteemed publishing industry judges as the Most Entrepreneurial publishing start-up in this year’s competition, for its ingenious solution to widespread book shortages in the developing world.
Arthur Attwell, Paperight CEO and founder said,“African countries have very few bookstores and e-books are spreading very slowly. ”
Attwell who represented the company at the competition added, “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,” he added.
The company was one of ten finalists for the Start-up Showcase, which offers young companies in the publishing sector the opportunity to show off their work at Tools of Change, the world’s premier publishing technology conference. Paperight was the only one of the ten finalists this year to come from outside of the United States or Europe, and the first ever to come from South Africa.
“This win is a tremendous achievement, especially for a company from South Africa,” Attwell continued. “With any luck, it will increase publishers’ awareness of the massive problems facing Africa in terms of access to books, and allow us to make their books available on our system.”
“As it stands, it’s great to see judges and audiences from around the world seeing the value in our work,” he added.
The two other winners at the Start-up Showcase were children’s publisher Borne Digital and dynamic map visualisation software developers CartoDB, both from the United States.
Although their website was only launched in May 2012, Paperight already has over 200 registered independent outlets in South Africa, selling books from over 40 registered publishers. Publishers, on average, make as much or more from a Paperight sale as they would from a traditional bookstore or e-book sale.