Worldreader, who are busy in a number of African countries bringing ereaders into poor rural schools have just announced the formal launch of their ebook App Worldreader Mobile to bring free ebooks to Feature phones.
Since the beta launch of this App, almost half a million people in Africa and India have downloaded the App and have been devouring free ebooks at a rate that is almost impossible to imagine. Literally tens of thousands of ebooks have been downloaded and read on these relatively simple 2G mobile phones thanks to this App.
Worldreader have put together an informative PDF that explains exactly what has happened with all relevant figures, which you can read by following this link. This is a 25 page document, simply bursting with information.. and very well worth reading if you want to see how such a relatively simple idea as this App can totally revolutionise the lives of people who otherwise would have no access to reading.
I read this document with fascination and happiness, to see such an amazing take up of an idea is enormously encouraging, and totally validates the work that Worldreader have been doing for the last couple of years in Africa to bring literature to poor communities in a totally practical and realistic fashion.
In the words of David Risher co-founder and CEO of Worldreader “There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes on this planet, Together with our growing e-reader program, Worldreader Mobile connects us to millions of the world’s poorest people, providing the books they need to improve their lives.”
This is the point of this idea. Up till now, Worldreader have been very successfully bringing huge numbers of Kindle ereaders into poor African schools, and will continue to do this, but this App means that suddenly their work becomes freely available for anyone with a simple 2G feature phone – something that almost everyone in places such as Africa and Asia possess, as I saw for myself whilst living in countries such as Angola, the Philippines and China, so this simple idea means that the whole world can now take advantage of the work of Worldreader, and most assuredly will do so as well.
This App which they have developed with BiNu, a company who specialise in creating Apps that enable simple Feature Phones to work on the web makes reading ebooks on cheap and ubiquitous 2G mobile phones a simple and entirely practical thing to do.
Currently there are about 1200 titles available via this App, and this will increase rapidly as the project takes off properly over the next few months, so by the end of this year I imagine we will see tens of thousands of free ebooks of all genres being read by enormous numbers of the world’s poorest people in both their own languages and in English.
Currently the range of free ebooks available via Worldreader Mobile covers a wide range of text books at various levels, classic English language ebooks, contemporary fiction in a variety of African languages and a motley collection of other ebooks from various sources.
Quite simply this is a real revolution for the world, bringing books into the reach of a vast number of human beings who up till now have been denied the benefits of reading, both for pleasure and for education.. Worldreader working with BiNu have just quietly done something that will change the world totally in a relatively short period of time.. Aint it great???
biNu is a privately held company that develops the biNu mobile app platform that dramatically improves Internet access speed, usability and social connectivity of mobile phones. With biNu, even basic mobile phones exhibit high-end smartphone-like capabilities. biNu works on the thousands of Java-enabled and Android-devices and supports millions of users globally with rapid adoption rates in emerging economies where mobile phones are the primary Internet access device. Today, over 100 channels are available via biNu including social media, search, reference, books, SMS, news, weather and entertainment. biNu is a privately held company backed by Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, Dick Parsons, Ronald Lauder, Paul Bassat and other private investors in Australia and the US.
Link to Worldreader: http://www.worldreader.org
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Does this sudden opening up to the world’s poorest people to the joys of reading mean that we are suddenly on the edge of what will probably be a real change in how the world works for vast numbers of people? Do share any thoughts you might have on this project with us here. And certainly go and check out the work of Worldreader – who I have been writing about in this blog ever since they started working in Ghana a couple of years ago.