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Education Worldwide

How Copy Shops Make Up For Lack of Books

30 percent of students in South Africa appear to have no adequate access to textbooks they desperately need for school. According to an article in the South African Mail and Guardian, educational publishers think reasons are mainly because of a poor infrastructure with regard to libraries and traditional book distribution in rural areas. But it is not only textbooks. Social entrepreneur Arthur Attwell claims on his blog that indeed most South Africans do not own a book their entire lives.

This is where the project Paperight comes in. Arthur Attwell founded this project in 2011 with a brilliant idea: Copy and little printing shops can be found in most and even remote places. These shops function basically as a legal print-on-demand service. For instance, a student being interested in a math book can find a copy shop associated with Paperight and asks for the title he is looking for. The shop prints this particular book from a file and sells the printout to the student. The student pays the shop owner. The shop owner, in turn, pays a license fee to the publishing house. Finally, Paperight takes 20 percent from this license fee.

Thus, publishers save a lot of money as books are only being printed on demand and distributed via the internet to copy shops. More crucially, many books are now available at a cheaper price point in remote parts of the world where people did not have access to books before.

Paperight has already won a couple of grants and awards. To name a few, the Innovation Award Seed Grant from the SAB foundation in 2012 or the Most Entrepreneurial Startup at Tools of Change in 2013 amongst others.