Response to "Textbook Revolution - a Lost Cause?"

Written by The Paperight Team in Letters

Thank you very much for profiling the #textbookrevolution campaign in an opinion piece on the 3rd of April 2014. We’d like to take this opportunity to correct some inaccuracies in the piece.

Paperight is a small, Shuttleworth funded publishing startup with the ambitious goal of putting books within walking distance of every home – starting with educational material. Turning copyshops into print on demand bookshops allows customers to buy books quickly, cheaply and legally. This method of distribution cuts the costs of textbooks by up to 40%. And the business model works with publishers to broaden their reach while still ensuring they make the same profit margins, so everyone wins.

The #textbookrevolution campaign has come from a need for others to get involved and help us bring about real change in making textbooks more accessible. Publishers have said that we need to show a demand for cheaper textbooks and it is disheartening to have our campaign dismissed as an issue that should be sorted out on students’ behalf without their involvement. We wish it could be that simple.

This campaign has been rolled out at eight university campuses and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Students are battling with limited availability and high prices of textbooks and they are frankly fed up. The campaign has a petition element, but more importantly the hashtag #textbookrevolution is a name to rally behind and support has already been shown in many ways:

  • SRC’s actively promoting on campus and online
  • student newspapers and radio stations encouraging students to get involved
  • two Twitter debates where students have taken on not only publishers directly, but booksellers too
  • student organisations lending their reputations, voices and logos (
  • over 1000 physical petition signees from UCT and Stellenbosch University
  • university Vice Chancellors have started talking about how they can better support the needs of their students

This is not a quick fix, but the more the campaign grows, the more the demands for better access to study materials will be taken seriously. Get involved. Make this your campaign too.


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