Worldreader.org brings books to all in the developing world via e-reader technology. They recently completed the first ever trial in Ghana where they brought 20 Kindles, donated by Amazon, into the classroom, and the results were quite impressive. The excitement that the children had knowing they could get another book immediately was palpable.
They have approval from the Ghana Ministry of Education to do a larger trial in October (336 Kindles) in 4 schools. They will measure the results with rigor: measuring trends in reading and showing how e-readers in the classroom affect literacy. Following these trials, Worldreader will roll out on a larger scale- in more countries in Africa and Latin America. They will also work with local publishers to digitize books that otherwise would get left behind as more books go digital.
While e-readers were made for the developed world, in many ways it is the perfect technology for the developing world. With their low power consumption, long battery lives, simplicity for cell-phone users, and use of the GSM network, e-readers fit will with the needs of the worldâ€™s poorer countries. Looking at distribution, it takes almost the same effort to get a e-reader and a book into the hands of children in developing countries;the major difference being that an e-reader holds the world's library of books.
Worldreader.org was co-founded by a former Amazon executive, David Risher, (see Jeffrey Bezos's tribute to him here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=447307 ). At Amazon, he was Senior Vice President of Product Development later assuming marketing and management for all of Amazon's US retail operations. (Worldreader.org are not in any way affiliated with Amazon.) Worldreader's other co-founder, Colin McElwee was Director of Marketing at ESADE business school and recently spoke about "Books for All" at Tedx Barcelona.