Archive for March 15th, 2010
Worldreader is a not-for-profit organization based in the US and Barcelona whose goal is to increase literacy in developing countries. The organization sees ebooks and ereaders as the best way of doing this:
Education and literacy are critical drivers of economic growth (OECD International Adult Literacy Survey 1994-98). Yet in much of the world, children have access to a vanishingly small range of reading material. Transportation issues, logistical problems, payment difficulties — all reduce the availability of books and written material in the developing world. Yet imagine what children miss if they never discover an encyclopedia, an explanation of our solar system, or a favorite book about dinosaurs. Electronic readers use the mobile-phone GSM network to provide near instantaneous access to hundreds of thousands of full-length books, newspapers, and magazines, at a very low cost.
Worldreader is currently conducting a pilot program in Ayenyah, Ghana, where they are providing Kindle ereaders to school children. Amazon has donated 18 Kindles for the project.
My first thoughts are that ereaders will work better for this type of thing when we have plastic-based screens instead of the current easily broken glass displays, but there is no question that ebooks and ereaders can in the future play a major role in raising literacy everywhere. This will be especially true as ereaders become more affordable.
CrunchGear has written an article which is critical of the program, and they do raise valid points. Ereaders are not yet ready for school use here in the US let alone in the more rugged conditions they will need to survive in Africa. Ereaders are also at this point still way too expensive for widespread use in poorer nations, but as with all electronic devices the prices will come down. Worldreader is at least laying the groundwork so that they and others will be ready when the hardware is ready.
One of Worldreader’s stated goals is to also help develop and digitize local low-cost content in local languages. This would probably help to counterbalance the regional distribution rights and DRM issues that currently complicate digital publishing.
Possibly Related Posts:
APCmag.com reports that Samsung will be introducing their ereaders to the Australian market in the latter part of this year. Samsung is still working on partnerships with publishers and content providers that serve the Australian market.
Apparently all four of Samsung ereaders that were shown at CES will be sold in Australia:
- E50 – Has a 5-inch screen and has an announced price of $299.
- E60 – Has a 6-inch screen.
- E65 – Adds Wi-Fi, chiclet keyboard and slider control panel.
- E100 – Has a 10-inch screen.
APCmag also reports that Samsung is working on their own tablet to go head to head with the iPad. Philip Newton, director of Samsung Australia’s IT division is quoted as saying “A lot of companies have played in the MID (mobile Internet device) market and done a very average job and the iPad, which is a glorified MID, just takes that to the next level.”
Samsung plans to release their own tablet by the end of this year. Early reports indicate that it may have an Atom processor, IO ports and much more functionality than the iPad.