Publisher reminder emails sent by mistake

Early this morning, our server started sending out emails to publishers reminding them to check their sales on Paperight. Unfortunately, it sent the same emails repeatedly, and the link in the email was wrong, too. We’re very sorry, and very embarrassed about it.

If you’re curious, and in the interests of transparency, here’s what happened.

We’re currently testing a forthcoming new upgrade to paperight.com that will provide automatic VAT-compliant statements and invoices. (We currently create these manually.) To comply with tax regulations for reporting agency sales, we are required to provide publishers with a statement every month. Hence the monthly reminder emails, which point to this statement online.

For testing new features like this, we have a special ‘testing’ version of the paperight.com site for in-house use. (This is standard practice for website development. Testing sites are sometimes called ‘dev or ‘staging’ sites.) Unfortunately, when we put our brand new code on the testing site, something went wrong, and it sent out multiple reminder emails to publisher email addresses that are on the testing database.

Why do we keep real publisher email addresses on the testing site? Good question. When testing, we only know if a feature really works if we have real data to test with. So from time to time we add some real data (including products, sales history and user info) from paperight.com to our testing site. Still, the testing site also contains lots of fictional data, too. (The testing site is just as safe and secure as the real paperight.com, by the way.)

So, the link in the mistaken reminder emails this morning point to the testing site, not to real sales reports. (Doh!) So a publisher that follows the link, and thus logs in to the testing site by mistake, would see partly fictional data, and could be really confused.

We’ve already implemented a fix to stop the reminder emails going out from our testing site. We’re also changing the address of our testing site, so that publishers who visit the link in the mistaken emails won’t end up at a fictional version of their account.

Again, we’re very sorry for the confusion. We’ve learned a lot, and will make sure this doesn’t happen again.

 

What royalties do authors earn from Paperight sales?

Authors may wonder what happens to their royalties when Paperight outlets sell their books. The short answer is that authors earn royalties from their publishers on Paperight sales just like any other. And this way they can reach a whole new market that conventional bookstores aren’t able to reach – which of course in developing countries is potentially a much bigger market.

Note: we’re talking here about authors whose rights are managed by the publishing company that publishes their book. If you are an author who manages your own rights or self-publishes, this doesn’t apply to you. Though you may find it interesting anyway.

The author’s royalty calculation will depend on their agreement with the publisher. Most agreements include a primary royalty (often about 12% paid on sales of the editions produced by the publisher’s distribution chain) and a subsidiary royalty (often 50 to 75% of income from rights sales to third parties who produce other editions, e.g. movie rights or newspaper serialisations).

The publisher (not Paperight) decides whether sales through Paperight outlets fall under primary or subsidiary rights. There are good arguments for both. If Paperight outlets are considered just another print-on-demand printer, then sales qualify as primary rights sales, and the author will earn their usual 12% or so of what the publisher receives. If the publisher considers Paperight a third party producing entirely different editions under licence, then sales would be considered subsidiary rights sales, and the author would earn their contractual 50 to 75% of the publisher’s licence fee from Paperight.

It’s important that authors understand how Paperight licence fees are set.

The publisher sets the licence fee, usually at 10 to 30% of the retail price of the book.

(When the book sells in a Paperight outlet, the outlet charges their customer enough to cover the licence fee and their usual cost of printing and binding.)

This is a common licence fee for all reprint or distribution agreements in the publishing industry. Also, when a publisher sells a book through a traditional distribution chain, they usually earn about 25 to 30% of the retail price after the bookseller’s cut (often around 45%) and the costs of printing, shipping, warehousing and wastage (often around 25%). So with Paperight, a licence fee of around 30% of the retail price of the book earns the publisher about the same amount as they would earn from a traditional edition.

Also, remember that under retail agreements with large retailers like Amazon, or bulk sellers like Leisure Books, publishers often earn only 30% of their recommended retail price, and that’s before they’ve incurred ebook-management costs for ebooks or printing and shipping costs for print books.

When setting Paperight licence fees, it’s important that publishers strike a balance between rights fees low enough to make books affordable to large, low-income markets (the low-margin, high-volume approach) and high enough to earn a sensible return. Over time, that will be a process of trial and error.

May I give a customer the PDF file for their book?

No. You cannot give a customer a digital copy of the book at all. The licence agreement between you, us and the publishers only allows for print-outs to be sold or given out.

The reasons behind this include the fact that Paperight is not an ebook distributor. This is important to publishers, who manage their ebooks very differently, and need to keep ebook products separate from Paperight. This separation helps us keep our licence fees low, since they do not compete with publishers’ ebook sales.

My account has been disabled, what do I do now?

If your account has been disabled, you’ll see this notification when you try to log in. (A closed, suspended, and disabled account are the same thing.)

There are three possible reasons your account is disabled:

  • You chose to close your account, and did this from your dashboard or asked us to do so.
  • Someone else with your login details chose to disable or close your account. For instance, another staff member in your organisation.
  • We disabled or suspended your account because we believe it has been misused. (For example, we have evidence that your organisation has broken our terms of service by making unauthorised copies.)

If we disable your account, we will immediately contact you about it.

If you find your account disabled and you don’t know why, contact us straight away. Our team members are ready to help.

A disabled account does not lose its credits, publications or licence history. So if we reactivate your account, everything will still be there.

Why are you charging for books that are in the public domain?

Some books, like Moby Dick for example, are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free on gutenberg.org.

You will notice, however, that if you go to a book shop to buy Moby Dick you’ll still have to pay for the book, despite the fact that it is in the public domain. This is because of the other costs involved in producing that book (these include design, typesetting, printing, shipping, and warehousing costs).

The Paperight Edition of Moby Dick (which you can find here: http://paperight.com/product/23) uses the public domain text of Moby Dick, but we add value to the book by doing our own design work and typesetting. Thus, while the words themselves are in the public domain, the format of the book was created by us, and thus can be sold on by us.

When a book is in the public domain it means that it can be freely used by anyone who would like to do so. That means that we can use the story, and sell it on – and so can you! Paperight aims to make books of all kinds available to people in areas where there is still limited connection to the internet, or where they do not have the resources to buy e-readers and iPads on which to read downloaded books. We work through photocopy shops to provide a service where people can buy licenses to print out this material, thus making it more accessible.

 

Why is a document not available in my region?

There are a few possible reasons that we aren’t allowed to sell a book or document in your region.

  • Usually, the copyright holder (e.g. the publisher) has not allowed us to sell it in your region. This is their choice, and we trust that they have good reasons for this.
  • Sadly, some books and documents are banned or restricted in some countries. So we might be compelled by law to not distribute it there.
  • Laws about the ‘life of copyright’ can differ from country to country. A book that’s in the public domain in another country might still be under copyright in yours.

If you think we’ve made a mistake or want to find out more about a particular book that isn’t available, contact us and we’ll look into it.

I’m being asked to activate my account, what does that mean?

When you register on Paperight, we have to be sure we have your correct email address. People often mistype their addresses. We have to be sure yours is correct, otherwise we can’t contact you if something goes wrong, and you can’t do things like reset your password or login in future with the correct address. So we send you a special email on registration to confirm that your email address is correct.

How does it work?

When you register, the paperight.com site sends an automated email to you, to check that we have your correct address. That email message has a special link in it. It’s often called a ‘validation’ or ‘verification’ email. (‘Validation’ is a silly word because only technical folk understand it, so that’s too bad.) We call it an ‘account activation’ email.

The link contains a special code that is unique to your account. When you click the link (or paste it in your web browser), it takes you to our site, and tells us that the correct person got that email, and proving that your email address is correct (that it’s ‘valid’).

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what validation emails are for, or ignore them as spam (sometimes they even end up in your spam folder, and you have to look for them there). But they are very important.

What if I don’t validate my account’s email address this way?

On Paperight, if as an outlet you don’t validate your email, your account is not fully activated and you cannot download documents. This is because we won’t deliver licensed content to someone we can’t actually communicate on email with.

What if I lose my activation email?

You can resend the activation email easily. Log in to paperight.com and go to your Dashboard. There you’ll see an ‘Activate account’ button. Click it to resend the email.

What if I can’t login to get to my Dashboard?

If you cannot log in (perhaps your email address was mistyped), let us know by email, telling us which email address you registered with. We can also resend you the activation email.

Then you must look out for the activation email, including checking your spam folders for it.