In sad news for extending the reach of ebooks and print-on-demand, global distributor Paperight has announced that it will cease operations. The company operated under an anti-piracy/pro-book access model that licensed ebooks from publishers to be sold via photocopy shops across various regions in Africa.
Good e-Reader first wrote about Paperight in 2013 when the group won a digital innovation award at CONTEC, the preshow event to the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the time, it was truly astounding that a company could win such an award for getting more people to read print books.
Paperight operated in remote regions by filling a need for licensed content. Until the company’s arrival, many book stores and university textbook vendors offered a library of single-edition titles that students or their parents would photocopy for a fee. This wasn’t only spurred on by piracy efforts, but also by the fact that many publishers lack a licensing agreement in certain African countries, and therefore did not sell their titles within the region. The only way to access the material was through photocopied piracy.
Paperight changed that by licensing the digital edition and allowing readers to purchase the book via a lower cost license, which the shop owner would then print out on the copiers and bind. Call it a highly rudimentary Espresso book machine, if you will.
While many cultures might be willing to pay a little more to not have to stand at a copier and generate their own books, that has proven to not be the case in the markets that Paperight served. At this time, while optimistic about where the industry can take their pioneering efforts and where their work will take them next, the company has had to close its doors.