Here are the facts – they aren’t new and you’ve all probably heard them before – so I’m going to spend only a few minutes on them. We all know Literacy is important – it;s strongly correlated with economic growth and personal opportunity. Lliteracy is the one of the best predictors of a child’s future success.
And while we enjoy high literacy rates, the developing world is still lagging. One of the reasons for this is the lack of books –few to no books in schools, no public libraries – no books in the home.Literacy is not a luxury.Access to information and the ability to read that information saves lives! Farmers who have access to agricultural information, families who have access to critical health information – combined with the ability to READ and understand that information - is critical. The problem is old – but the solution is new . And that’s what im going to focus on today. I’m also going to give each and every person in this room to help solve this problem – at NO cost– and with a potential financial upside to boot. One of the biggest blocks to literacy in the developing world is lack of books. Simply stated, Without books, literacy becomes impossible. All facts fron UNESCO
I would bet that everyone in this room is a book lover. And we all want our children to love books! But have you ever stopped to think what a privilege it is to be a book lover? We all take it for granted – we all – no matter how poor, no matter how rural, we all have access to books through our schools and libraries.To learn to read and to love books you have to have access to books. Millions of folks don’t. This is a photo of the library in a school in Ghana.
This is the old way the problem was tackled and until recently it was the only way. It’s flawed for many reasons. It’s expensive, and most often these books don’t arrive to the very rural places they are destined to.
It’s working – with e-readers and e-books kids read more and better. No surprise really, but we now have hard data proving the impact we are having.
Meet some of our new readers.
By 2015 we will have devices in 1 million hands – that’s the hard part- The next part is easy - with your help. We need great books and for that we need publishers and authors to partner with us.
We have some amazing partners already. Random House allows our kids free access to 150 of their e-books including the entire Magic Tree House Series. Mary Pope Osborne is thrilled by the way to see our kids reading her books – what author wouldn’t be? In fact, Ms Osborne is such a believer in what we are doing that she is personally funding the upcoming e-reader project in Rwanda.We also are proud to be working with Penguin Young Readers Group.
Getting local story books and textbooks is also key. In Kenya we have amazing partners including Longhorn Kenya , Moran, and Mountain Top. In Ghana we partner with almost all of the major local publishers including Excellent Publishing and Printing, Sam Wood, Smartline, and Sub Saharan.We are discovering some amazing children’s books out of Africa and our kids absolutely love the local stories.
I went to visit our students in Ghana a few months ago. When I asked the senior high students which books they’d like to have on their e-readers, so many hands went up and kids eagerly began calling out titles. So I passed around a piece of paper and let them jot down their wish list.Here it is. I immediately noticed that many kids wanted an atlas, books about geography and maps. Can you imagine not having access to an atlas? Not being able to see where you are, and explore far away places?
I was determined to get our students an atlas. I saw that there were only 2 atlases available on Kindle – so I wrote to the publisher of one of them – bizarrely located in the Czech republic. I sent this hand-written list and asked that they allow Worldreader students to have their atlas for free. I got an immediate “yes’ and within 48 hours had a signed agreement. The next week, Amazon pushed the atlas to all of our students and teachers.It is now one of our most popular books – among students – and teachers! And as it’s digital, it’s super current. How many of you have an atlas that includs South Sudan? Well, Worldreader kids have one that does. Thanks to the publisher - Bispiral -we are able to give our kids the world.
No one wrote this down, but several kids came up to me and said “please mam, can you get us information on ‘the facts of life”I just read that the USA has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world; and that much of that is due to the fact that kids don’t have the information they need about sex. They believe all sorts of misinformation – like you can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex, you can’t get pregnant if you have sex when you are on your period, etc.If the children in the US don’t have the information they need, you can imagine the dire situation the kids in the developing world are in! We are working hard to get just solid information about sex, HIV and Aids , etc to our kids with these new digital platforms.
It’s no surprise that our kids love active content – they are after all children and children are the same the world over.Ghostboy and the Nameless Grave is a super fun kindle book – it’s my 10 year old son’s favorite and it’s also the favorite of many of our kids in Ghana.Ghostboy is published by Robot Media – you may have seen Hermes’ talk today. Hermes contacted us via twitter last year and his company Robot Media allows all Worldreader students access to his awesome enhanced e-book.
Id like you all to think about books you publish – and look at these kids. What could you offer them to give them the chance to be book lovers? Be it one book or a hundred, the process is simple. With a one page agreement, we can send your books to these children next week.
Worldreader is about using new technology to get books to folks who have no books. Our mission is to transform reading in the developing world. We are always on the look-out for new ways to get more books to more folks.And in the vein, we have a new, very exciting platform that we are beta testing right now - a book app for mobile phones . Early data alreadyshows enormous potential to allow millions to read on a device they already own.
There is nothing new about a book app for mobile phones – many of us with iPhones and other smart phones can read books on our phones – but Worldreader has the first book app for feature phones – and that’s the kind of phone that billions of folks in the developing world have.In this regard – this is absolutely groundbreaking.
I would like to use this opportunity to give a huge shout out to our partner biNu. It’s biNus technology that is allowing us to deliver books to millions on a device they already own.You haven’t heard of them…. Yet – but you will. Their proprietary technology turns feature phones into smart phones – for free.biNu’s is already empowering millions of people in the developing world – giving anyone with a feature phone access to news, google, twitter, facebook –AND of course most importantly the Worldreader book app!.Their growth is organic – and fast. In January 2 million folks had biNu on their phones. In February that number grew to over 3 million. By the end of 2012 there will be over 10 million phones with biNu AND the Worldreader book app.Worldreader is proud and honored to be biNu’s exclusive book purveyor –
Worldreader can now deliver books, stories, health information – to almost anyone in the world who has even the most basic mobile phone. Our current beta version is already on over 3 million phones – mainly in Asia and Africa. And we’ve already got hundreds of thousands of active readers..Although the books are all free at the moment – the potential for publishers and authors is enormous. When millions of people are reading a book on our app, they can tweet, share, like – directly from the book. We all know that all that chatter can actually drive sales of paper and e-books.We are in talks with mobile carriers to provide operator billing – so soon we will be able to offer a mix of free AND paid for content. You may say “who would want to read on a tiny phone?” But imagine that you have NO OTHER way to read – that you live in the middle of the Congo and have no library, no books, no ipad, no Kindle – but you have a phone and now suddenly you can read titilating stories – action packed thrillers, short stories – in your local language….
Let me show you the user experience – which by the way in rural areas will be actually FASTER than an iPhone or other smartphone – and that’s down to biNu’s cloud and data compression technology.Once a user has downloaded the free biNu app on their feature phone, their screen looks like this – just like a smart phone. Cool, right?
Once in theWorldreader app, users will find lots of current fiction – AND hundreds of classics.
Here are a few of the newest titles - thanks to wonderful authors who have allowed us to use their stories. We have romance, we have action, we have fun young adult adventure stories.
Here’s Kamila, by QweiQuartey , a wonderful Ghanaian author. (read the text)
And right here, readers can say to themselves – I love this book – I want to share it with my friends on Twitter or Facebook. OR they can translate it in real time to almost any language in the world - Or they can look up a word they don’t understand using the dictionary. Or they can bookmark it so that they can return to their spot and read on later.
We can see in real time how many folks are reading, where they are, how many pages they read…. You can see here we have now around 14 000 readers per day reading over 300 000 pages.We can also see where our readers are – by country.
The last 2 weeks we've registered ~80,000 queries from people within the Worldreader app searching for books to read, our users are ravenous for content. Who can guess the number 1 searched for item in our book app?That’s right, it’s sex. But look at the other numbers – Harry Potter , love, Things Fall Apart, classics, spiritual – You can see that folks are ravenous for reading ! You can help give them – and soon sell them – books and stories that will engage them ! Again, with a short agreement, we can have your books and stories out there for millions to devour! And they will share, like, etc. Take part in our test – and we’ll share the data with you! Learn in real time what people want so that you can not only help literacy worldwide, but also us the information to hone your digital business strategies in emerging markets.
I’m going to close with a terrible saying that we hear in every single African market we work in – in some variation or another.By transforming reading – allowing folks access to books, enabling kids to become life long lovers of books – together, we can put this saying to rest once and for all.
If anyone would like to talk more – come find me now – or drop me a line.I hope to hear from all of you. Thank you.
1. Local publishing partners
2. A book wish list from Adeiso Senior High
3. We give kids the World!
4. One thing that’s not on the list, but many children asked for…
8. Feature phones are the largest and fastest growing segmentof the mobile phone market in the developing world.
9. Introducing our newest platform partner: biNu
10. The Worldreader book app: enabling millions of people to readon a device they already own.
11. Top searches over past 2 weeks (over 80 000 searches) 699 sex 378 harry potter 351 love 246 things fall apart 218 bible 204 twilight 183 romeo and juliet 170 physics 165 kamasutra 157 quran 155 a 146 biology 143 chemistry 133 oliver twist 126 dictionary 125 animal farm 115 english