Testing a new platform for “Books for all”
February 13, 2012 By Elizabeth Hensick Wood
Sometimes it’s important to step back and remember that Worldreader is about reading. We are not ‘the e-reader NGO’, nor ‘the Kindle guys’. We are simply ‘the folks who are transforming reading.’
Our core mission is to enable folks all over the developing world to read. We do that by using new technology to deliver thousands of books to those who previously had few to no books.
For the past two years, we have been doing this using 3G enabled e-readers (the amazing Amazon Kindle) in schools in Ghana and Kenya. We have proven that if you give the right books to folks – relevant, local books – they will read more, and read better.
Last year Worldreader began to investigate the development of a book app for mobile phones – as just another way to deliver more books to more people. Mobile penetration across the developing world is skyrocketing and in many African countries, including Ghana, has reached over 80%.
By cosmic coincidence, on the other side of the globe in Sydney, a small start up called biNu was developing a new technology that turns low-end feature phones into smart phones. Thanks to biNu, the 4 billion people around the world with low end phones, can enjoy instant access to news, Facebook, Twitter…. and books.
As a passion project, biNu’s Joe Lipson developed a book reader app to run on the biNu platform. biNu’s CEO, Gour Lentell then reached out to Worldreader and generously offered to let us take the app and make it better by procuring great locally relevant content that will hook folks on reading. And so is born the Worldreader App (beta).
Will the Worldreader App be a way for millions of people in the developing world to enjoy books? We hope so, and we intend to find out. Stay tuned.