An End to the PaperLater Experiment

PaperLater by the pool

We launched PaperLater in June, as a big experiment for us. We wanted to see if there was appetite for a personalised newspaper service, both from consumers and from publishers.

It’s been running for just over 6 months now, and while we had a strong launch, we haven’t seen the kind of repeat usage we’d been hoping for.

As a small, predominantly bootstrapped business we have to make difficult choices about what we invest in, and right now, all our attention is on improving our site and ARTHR in 2015.

We’ve decided that the best thing to do is to call an end to this experiment and shut PaperLater. This week will be our last week of operation, and the last orders will go to print at 2pm on Monday 22nd December. The site will remain fully functional until then, but we won’t be inviting any more beta testers.

(If you’ve already got an account, and you want to give it one last go, there’s still time to get an issue for the Christmas holidays!)

After next Monday we’ll delete your PaperLater bookmarks and newspapers, but keep your account, as it works on the main Newspaper Club site too. If you want a copy of any of your data, please let us know and we can get that for you.

We’ve learnt a lot from PaperLater, and the concept of a fully automated, personalised newspaper is still fascinating to us, but this wasn’t quite the right product at the right time.

We hope to revisit some of the ideas in it in the future, but for now, thanks a lot to everyone who gave it a go.

Posted by Tom | Comments (1)

Filed under: announcements, PaperLater, running a business

Happy Birthday Newspaper Club!

There’s some debate about the exact date that Newspaper Club started, but one thing is for sure: this week is our 4th birthday.

I’m pleased we blogged so honestly about Newspaper Club from get go. Even though I cringe when I look at the early prototypes of ARTHR, or the first version of the logo, it reminds me just how far we’ve come (and, gulp, just how much we haven’t done yet too).

Thank you, from everyone on the team, to everyone who has supported us over the years, by printing with us, telling your friends, or helping us out along the way. The good ship Newspaper Club would be an empty vessel without your brilliant newspapers to fill it with.

Full steam ahead!

Posted by Tom | Comments Off on Happy Birthday Newspaper Club!

Filed under: news and press, running a business

Project Looking Glass

Regular readers will know that Newspaper Club is split between two offices: London and Glasgow. Glasgow is now the HQ, where we do all the operations, logistics, customer service, and much more. And London is where we develop the products and services, writing code, drawing pictures, and so on.

We have a Campfire chat, which we natter in all day long, but for a while I’ve been trying to find other ways of joining the offices together that are less direct and a bit more, well, silly.

Our first go at this is the awfully titled ‘Project Looking Glass’. It’s a two way video screen that sits in the corner of each office, letting us wave at the other office, and them to wave back. It looks a bit like this:

Looking Glass #2

Looking Glass #3

It’s always on, it doesn’t need to dial up or sign in, and if the network drops, it should recover as soon as it can.

It’s built on a pair of Raspberry Pi’s, and you should be able to put one together yourself for under £150, if you can find a couple of spare monitors. I’ve written up much more about it, including how to make one, on my blog.

We’ve only had it running for a couple of days, so it’s a bit of an experiment for us. So far it seems quite fun, with some good drawings appearing on whiteboards. But that might fade, and it might end up being a bit weird, in which case we’ll turn it off and try something else.

But we also know that we’re going to have to get better at remote working, as we grow and as our business get more complicated. It feels like we can learn a lot from trying things like this out while we’re small enough, and those things will be useful as more people join us, in our offices and out.

We’ll keep you posted on how it’s working out for us, and if you end up making something similar for your offices, we’d love to hear how it’s going.

Morning Message from Glasgow

Posted by Tom | Comments Off on Project Looking Glass

Filed under: engineering, running a business

New Envelopes

The Glasgow team got very excited this morning to see these arrive in the post.


If you order a single copy via standard post, this is what will now arrive at your door – and (subject to stocks) replete with stickers!

Posted by Rosemary | Comments Off on New Envelopes

Filed under: running a business

Some pictures from the Glasgow office

Ben here. A few of us from the London office popped up to Glasgow yesterday for a few meetings and a nice dinner. Other people will blog about all the exciting developments discussed in the aforementioned meetings but I wanted to share some pictures from the Glasgow office.

Brilliant CMYK rug

It’s a lovely space, big and airy and filled with light. It’s in a building owned by a group called Wasps who provide studio space for small companies and artists. There’s a really nice atmosphere and even a fabulous cafe downstairs. It feels like a natural space for us to be in.



Anne, Emily, Rosie and Silje have made the space their own with some nice touches and variations on the CMYK theme.


And there’s loads of brilliant newspapers lying around.


Newspaper Club stamp

(It’s worth noting that yesterday we agreed a new BLOGGING IS NOW MANDATORY strategy and so far London is winning 2 – 0.)

Posted by Ben | Comments Off on Some pictures from the Glasgow office

Filed under: running a business, team

Q4 pre-tease phase 1


Art and Sales & Marketing are scheming.

Posted by Russell | Comments Off on Q4 pre-tease phase 1

Filed under: running a business, startup, team

Step Three: Profit

We had a board meeting last week. You can see half of it above via the magic of timelapse. (The half of the table you mostly see consists of Tom and Gary. The half you briefly glimpse is Anne & Ben. You never see me.)

Lots of things were decided. Much exciting news was newsed. But the best bit was this, as detailed in Gary’s CEO memo:

In our second full year of trading we’re very proud to say that we’re profitable. We’re not talking about a lot of money – just single figures as a percentage of our sales. However, it is enough to help ensure we can keep providing the levels of service that our customers seem to really appreciate. It’s also just enough to allow us to invest in developing our service.

We now employ full-time in Glasgow and London a small team of very clever people who are working on new Newspaper Club products. They’re developing ways to convert disparate pieces of useful and interesting digital information into printed formats that make it all a real pleasure to read. 

It’s an exciting time. We really believe that this pretty hoary old medium has a lot of life yet in it. In fact, the potential of newsprint is enormous – but only when it’s usefully integrated with the web. Hold the front page!”

Exciting isn’t it?

There are some changes afoot – me, Gary and Anne are getting new titles, we’ve got plans for new products and we need to talk about investment – Anne’s going to add some more detail on all that later in the week. (Unless you’ve got a few hundred grand going spare, in which case gives us a shout). In the meantime; we’re in our second year of trading, we’re employing great people, we’ve got brilliant customers and we’re making an actual profit. Hurrah.


Posted by Russell | Comments (2)

Filed under: developments, running a business

Week 160

The date of the first blog post (well, not the very first) tells me this is Week 160 of Newspaper Club, or day 1,120.

We’ve not been as talkative as we used to be about running the business. That’s mostly because there’s a lot more business than there used to be – both customers, and all the stuff to support that: profit and loss reports, management accounts, Skype calls, meetings, planning.

But that’s no excuse. We’re into the really difficult stage of running a business. We’re still small, but there’s real money, real jobs and real pressures. But, this is also where the meaty stuff is. We’ve learnt a lot, and we’re learning even more. Those thing seem worth sharing, and if not for you, then for our own sake. We’re going to try harder.

So, what’s going on?

For a start, we’ve had two brilliant new people join us. Rosemary is up in Glasgow working full-time with Anne, Emily and Silje to manage all operations, customer service, and well… everything. This is brilliant, because a) Rosemary is brilliant, and b) Anne can go on holiday now.

And Mike is down in London, working with me, to develop the site and future products and services. This is brilliant, because a) Mike is brilliant, and b) I can go on holiday now. He’s sat to the right of me, looking very serious, staring at the Backbone.js documentation.

We’ve been joined part-time over the summer by Jase, who is helping us with some design work. He’s sat opposite me, doing some typing wearing a great pair of red headphones.


Behind me is a whiteboard. It says: “ARTHR II: PRINT HARDER”, with lots of post-it notes underneath.


I’m really worried about talking about stuff before it’s real. Talk is easy, and shipping is hard. But dammit, I’m really excited about this. So, if you promise not to hold us to it, we’re completely overhauling ARTHR, using everything we’ve learnt about how people have used it over the last couple of years. When there’s something to show, you’ll see it here first.

Anyway, I need to stop typing this, and go and read some blog posts about how to test asynchronous Javascript with QUnit. Onwards.

Posted by Tom | Comments (5)

Filed under: engineering, running a business

Our busiest week yet

As anyone who’s shipped will know:

Shipping digital things is hard, shipping physical things that get delivered on vans is harder.

Making customers happy is hard, delighting them is harder.

Twitter is a very real, raw, place to receive feedback.

Last week was our busiest week ever, and this week looks like beating that. So it’s been incredibly satisfying to see some lovely comments about the thing we ship on Twitter.

Credit for this feedback goes to Anne, Emily and Silje in Glasgow. They are the people who work hard to respond to all the emails we get, answering the many questions we get asked. They are the people who work hard to get orders rushed through for that last minute deadline.

A good week for Newspaper Club. Thank you.

Posted by Ben | Comments Off on Our busiest week yet

Filed under: running a business

There is no new news now, there might be some later

Newspaper Club Away Day

We had a big meeting the other day. A proper meeting with an agenda with eight items on it.

We have these approximately twice a year to check on how we’re doing as a business, check all the team are happy and suggest ideas for the future.

The big news is that there’s no new news at the moment. There is some very exciting stuff we’re working on, stuff we’ve been wanting to do from day one, but it would be foolish to announce that until it’s all finished. But rest assured that there are good, exciting developments planned for the rest of the year.

Newspaper Club Away Day

Personally these meetings always remind me how good everyone else in the team is. Hiring Anne Ward has been the best decision we’ve made. Our customers are very happy. Here are some recent tweets from actual customers.

For the blog

For the blog

And as we tweeted last week. “we have more customers than we did”.

For the blog

That’s not because of our multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, that’s not because of my award winning design, that’s because Newspaper Club is a well built product with a delightful customer experience all wrapped inside a well run business. The delightful customer experience is all down to Anne. She’s our delighter. She’s also the closet person to the actual business and therefore is able to offer fantastic insight into what further developments customers would like to see. Her ideas are invaluable.

Newspaper Club Away Day

The well built product bit is down to Tom (obviously). Newspaper Club is a towering technical achievement as recognised in the Special Technical Achievement Award from the BIMA’s last year. But more than that Tom is a powerhouse development team of just one. Sometimes we forget how good he is when we’re saying, how about we just incorporate that, or we just do this and he just nods and says, yep, yep. I’ll stop now, I’m probably embarrassing him.

The well run business bit is down to Gary, our CEO. Unlike most Start-Ups™ we have hired someone far better and far more experienced than us to run the business. This has been another key decision. I’ve personally seen lots of start ups fail because the owners are too close to the business. We’re trying to be as far away as is healthy.

Lastly, if you think this blog post is a bit silly, you are mistaken. If you’ve ever shipped you’ll know this stuff is a big deal.

Posted by Ben | Comments (2)

Filed under: art, developments, running a business

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