| July 19, 2013

1,000 Free Online Books . . . and Counting


We like celebrating milestones, and we have a big one to announce today!

Worldreader is extremely proud to report that we have now digitized more than 1,000 African books. This means that students in our programs have access to 1,000 new early readers, textbooks, study aids and other reading materials, available by download over 3G and WiFi networks in places where existing infrastructure make it difficult for print books to reach.

Why does this matter? An important aspect of what we do is work with local authors and publishers to ensure that we can provide reading material that is appropriate for and relevant to students. Hitting this milestone means that there are 1,000 new chances to spark a lifelong affinity for reading, 1,000 new opportunities to improve one’s agency and the circumstances of his or her existence, and 1,000 new ways to identify with and foster an invaluable connection with one’s own culture, language, place and history.

A second, and significant, aspect of “Books for all” is sharing diverse and insightful narratives from around the oft-misconceived continent of Africa with readers the world over—whether with a family in Idaho who wants to impart the stories and language of their youth to their children in Swahili or for a student growing up in the Netherlands interested in exploring the world through the Ananse stories from Ghana. This list, and the bridges afforded different people and communities by reading, is legion and myriad.

A brief rundown of our e-reader catalog finds books from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. We also have individual stories representing Egypt, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan. We currently have books in English, French, Kiswahili, Akuapem Twi, Akan, Ewe, Yoruba, Igbo, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Setswana, Shona, Ndebele, Luganda, Runyoro-Rutooro, Kinyarwanda, Kamba, Gikuyu, Dholuo, Giriama, Ekegusii, Kiembu, Kigiriama, Luhyia and Lulogooli.

Although Worldreader manages and funds the digital conversion of these books, building sustainability is an important part of our mission. To this end we work with local publishers, big and small, to develop their in-house digital publishing capabilities and presence. This involves sharing our learnings with publishers as they increasingly crossover to the digital sphere as well as providing them with online sales and market data and consulting on marketing, technical aspects of digitizing books and different platforms and marketplace strategies.

As we work with publishers to digitize their books, this can include scanning the physical books and using text-recognition software (shown here), before converting them to the appropriate format.

A special thanks

Worldreader congratulates–and thanks–the following publishing houses for making this achievement possible:

Adaex, Adwinsa Publications Ghana, Afram, ‘amaBooks, Bhabu Books, Big Bug Books, Black Letter Media, Bulkybon Publications, Excellent Publishing and Printing, Farafina, Focus Publishers, Grow and Know, Imbada Publishers, Jacaranda, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, Kasahorow Foundation, Kenya Literature Bureau, Kidza Books, Longhorn Publishers, Mkonko Publishers, Modjaji Books, Moran Publishers, Mountain Top Publishers, New Africa Books, Olinga Foundation, Phoenix, Queenex, Regener8, Sam Woode, Sedco, Single Education, Smartline, Storymoja, Sub-Saharan, Weaver Press, Woeli Publishing Services, and WordAlive.

You can browse all the books in our collection here or purchase them on Amazon.com (search for Worldreader and a huge list will pop up). Plus, for a limited time, you can download for free some of our best African books…follow this link for more info.

And, you know what the best part is? As exciting as this milestone is, we’re only getting started! Imagine where we go from here. We’ll keep you posted.