why are some publishers publishing e-books on paper?

After talking about the opening of the paperless BiblioTech library last week, I thought you may like to read about publisher Arthur Attwell of Paperight in Capetown in South Africa who publishes e-books on paper.

“….we’re putting ebooks back on paper, because for most people in South Africa, paper is just easier and cheaper. We do this by printing them out, on demand, in regular photocopy shops…


Arthur Attwell of Paperight,

… The irony of the digital revolution is this: as it democratizes publishing, it widens the gap between those with Internet access and those without…”

From Publishing Perspectives 

According to Attwell, “The gap between the Internet-haves and the Internet-have-nots is getting wider… That gap in turn will translate into an education gap, an economic gap, and a healthcare gap.” Do you believe Attwell is right? Is the digital revolution helping to  widen the poverty gap?  If so, does this mean the BiblioTech in Texas is helping widen that gap by being all digital? Or is South Africa a separate case? Or what?

As always, it’d be great to hear your thoughts 🙂

“[An] ingenious solution to widespread book shortages in the developing world”

The Parliament of South Africa

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6 Responses to why are some publishers publishing e-books on paper?

  1. John Gray says:

    This looks is like a great idea for the reader who doesn’t have access to technology at home but surely the author loses out on royalties as the photocopied version can be shared with a large number of people. I cannot imagine that it would be legal to do this in the UK as it must be infringing copyright. Everyone seems to gain apart from the poor author.

    • Hm? Good point. The publisher does say he has a licence to print the books, although I see what you mean – instead of photocopying/printing one book, what’s to stop anyone printing ten or twenty? Hm? Possibly we have to accept this as a consequence of living in an unfair world with such big divisions between the haves and have-nots?
      Thanks for comment, John 🙂

  2. Katie says:

    Hi Marianne.

    Interesting subject- I don’t know if people are aloud to print out books in-places that don’t have internet. then isn’t it a meet half way thing, so all gets to read in different forms.
    I do think it’s unfair if books disappear altogether because I believe in having a good balance, however the digital stuff like the kindle does make reading easier for some and as the world changers I guess books etc.. does too.
    I liked John’s point through over here it likely would be forbidden but every where has slightly different ways I guess.
    Hope your well!

    • Printing the e-book in this instance does sound like a good compromise, I agree, and it seems to work in South Africa. Not only would it be illegal here – and in the US and other places – it would probably be more expensive to photocopy an ebook than buy the ebook (assuming you have the e-reader), so no one would be interested. The book world is changing so rapidly, who knows what’s still to come!?
      Thanks for your comment, Katie. Hope all well with you and yours 🙂

  3. Ruth F. Hunt says:

    Its hard to imagine poverty in our privileged society where children don’t have access to books due to lack of money. Food and medicines often take up all resources of families in developing countries. So on first glance this seems like a good idea. Knowledge and education can often help people out of poverty and into a rich literary world.
    It’s an interesting post, especially linked into the digital library post! Made me think, thanks, Marianne!

  4. I agree it’s difficult to imagine being really, really poor. When my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, we were certainly not a well-off family but we had books everywhere in the house, albeit almost all second hand, and were never hungry or felt “poor” and had access to NHS hospitals for broken legs and arms when we fell out of trees etc. I digress …this scheme seems a good one. Of course, it is a business venture like any other but hopefully it is a fair one and provides a affordable, valuable service.
    Thanks for your comment, Ruth 🙂

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