South African Cape Town-based startup Paperight has won a prestigious international publishing innovation award in New York City.
Paperight is a print-on-demand service, which allows photocopy retail service providers to re-print books legally. The startup was one of three to win in the O’Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) Start-Up Showcase.
Paperight, funded by the Shuttleworth foundation, was chosen for its solution to large-scale book shortages within the developing world by a panel of judges considered to be esteemed within the publishing industry.
“We were fortunate enough to be chosen as the ‘Most Entrepreneurial’ startup out of the ten competing finalists this year. We were the only startup from outside of North America and Europe participating in the finals of this year’s event” wrote Nick Mulgrew for Paperight on its blog.
Mulgrew added: “It feels wonderful to win in a competition chock-full with cutting-edge innovators and innovations. It’s made our year – and that year has only just begun.”
The other two companies that won were both from the United States – CartoDB, real-time visualisation developers, and Borne Digital, which publish children’s books.
Speaking to O’Reilly TOC, Arthur Attwell founder and Chief Executive of Paperight, said: “traditional print distribution is too costly for new bookstores to grow, and ebook revenue is still low in Africa. The industry has to find new readers and Paperight can reach them.”
Attwell believes that publishers “will never stop photocopying by blunt force…” and that Paperight provides a better alternative. “Our copy-shop managers want to run honest businesses and are excited to have a viable, legal alternative to illegal photocopying.”
Paperight launched their website in May last year but have already registered more than 200 independent outlets in South Africa. Since its launch its been selling books initially produced by 40 various and registered publishers.