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In a country still reeling from the Limpopo text book scandal, it seems unthinkable that the potential exists for a student to walk into their nearest copy shop and order just such a book printed on demand. And yet, thanks to Arthur Atwell’s Paperight, this is fast becoming a reality. Paperight enables independent copy shops to print books out for customers quickly and legally, says Arthur. It is already the world’s largest network of print-on-demand bookstores, he points out. Established in 2011, Paperight has over 200 outlets throughout South Africa, offering over 1800 fiction and non-fiction titles from over 100 publishers. The company works closely with copy shop managers and publishers, which give the company the licence to distribute their books through its network. Paperight also works directly with schools, non-profit organisations and businesses, with the aim of providing low-cost learning and reading materials for education and upliftment. What he really needs to take Paperight to the next level, adds Arthur, is for one major publisher to offer the company a full range of core, prescribed textbooks to distribute. This, he believes, would double sales figures overnight while at the same time saving learners thousands of rands. For many South Africans, states Arthur, a Paperight copy shop will be the only way they can buy a book without travelling very long distances. On the other hand, the company also offer publishers a way to compete with copier piracy, rather than surviving at its mercy. The system also works across borders, so there is great potential to expand internationally, he says, suggesting that his ultimate vision is to have every book within walking distance of every home.

On-air Interview