09 October 2011

Ebooks for Everyone

Had an entire post typed out that disappeared. Here's the short of
it, inspired by an article on CNN about using cell phones to fight
poverty around the world:

When ereaders are cheap enough, and they will be soon, start a
nonprofit that donates ereaders to children through schools. Just
getting one ereader to a family would make a huge difference. You
don't need a computer or wireless access, just an outlet at home where
you can charge the reader.

The nonprofit sets up kiosks (or even better, just uses kiosks that
have been set up for cell phones) where people can get ebooks- they
could also be set up in school, but I like the cell phone kiosk idea
better. You could either access copyright-free books for your
country, or you could purchase ebooks if you wanted. You could use
cell technology to transfer the books, or just use a card.

Simple. You'd need to know copyright laws in all the countries you'd
be working, but even making only copyright-free books would give
readers a huge resource. There aren't many digital books yet in many
languages, and that's certainly a problem, but not an insurmountable
one especially as it becomes quicker and cheaper to create ebooks. It
also might encourage more local authors to publish.

We will *never* get physical books into everyone's hands, at least not
in the numbers we'd need to. But ebooks are a real possibility and I
don't think it will be long before they can make a huge difference.
It's vital to increase literacy rates, but it's as important to make
sure readers have access to books.

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