Vale Alan Waters 2022 – Paper World founder and foundation Ephemera Society member
From the Paper World website:
THE HISTORY OF PAPER WORLD
Paper World founder, Alan Waters, initially discovered his passion for ephemera – items, periodicals or documents that are normally quickly discarded – by collecting and trading postcards, an important form of day-to-day communication prior to telephones becoming widespread.
Then, while travelling in Europe during the late 1980’s, Alan came across a company that was supplying original newspapers for any date in the last two hundred years. He found that this service mainly relied on the acquisition of ex-library stocks or volumes no longer needed due to the advent and development of microfilm and computer storage methods. On his return to Australia, Alan found that Australian libraries were not immune from the Information Technology revolution.
In the years following, Alan adopted unwanted volumes from libraries all over Australia and New Zealand, while also occasionally discovering private collectors who had systematically put away newspapers for years.
It wasn’t long before Alan had accumulated a veritable mountain of newspapers, but he had yet to prove that selling them in Australia would be a sustainable business venture.
Finally, in 1995, Alan judged he had enough stock of Melbourne newspapers to commence trading. When he placed his first radio advertisement, he was as a one-man-band, displaying his newspapers from a small glass cabinet in Melbourne’s Chapel Street Bazaar
After several more acquisitions and a rise in profile through radio and press advertising, Paper World’s services became national in 1998.
Thanks to Alan’s service, the public can now own newspapers that otherwise would a not have been available for purchase and may have been dispersed. Today, Paper World’s collection of newspapers numbers approximately 600,000 and is spread across four Melbourne warehouses. His team of dedicated customer service and production staff is committed to continuing this unique Original Newspaper service.
Fellow ESA members recall:
-My initial contact with Alan, was through his stall at the then Greville Street Bazaar in Prahran. It is where I first picked up information about the Ephemera Society, and the fact there was to be a meeting at the La Trobe Library to discuss its formation, and to bring along any items of interest. That is when I met Honor Godfrey and others including Annette Shiell, Peter Williams, Brian Watson and David Harris, to name drop a few. It would have been early 1987. (Andrew H.)
-I remember him as a real stalwart in the early years of the Society. Softly spoken, he turned his passion for collecting newspapers and magazines into a worthwhile business where his customers could order a newspaper published on their birthday or some other anniversary date. I could never understand where or how he managed to amass so many newspapers as to be able to keep his business going. (Mimmo C.)
– Another ESA member explained Alan’s access to so many newspapers – he was able to kickstart his business when newspapers were being made available on microfilm. Libraries eager for more space apparently disposed of original newspapers. That same collector, Ian A. said to Alan – you should franchise this business idea – he already had. And the business continues today, see https://www.paperworld.com.au/
-I came across one of Alan’s Paper World flyers when I was sorting through the miscellaneous ephemera that I took home from the May 2022 Ephemera Fair. I’ve had it sitting on the table next to my front door for weeks. I remember he used to have a stall at the Ephemera Fairs at the Malvern Town Hall, and also a stall at the Chapel Street Bazaar, many years ago. I remember him as being a man who was very passionate about collecting and his own collection of newspapers.
With the Paper World flyer at my front door and advertisements on 3AW over the last couple of weeks encouraging listeners to buy an (old) original newspaper for their Dad for Father’s Day, Alan has obviously been in my thoughts recently. (Kris W.)
This article was first published in the Ephemera Newsletter no.18, of April 2023. If you want to read about ephemera and support the Ephemera society, then join the Society here.