Kindle electronic readers are capable of kindling some pretty fiery emotions among literature lovers. The technologically inclined love the Kindle’s compact paper-free design and countless download choices. The technologically challenged, on the other hand, maintain a passionate devotion to the printed page, citing the irreplaceable pleasure of whispering pages and the …
… familiar fragrance of a real live book’s binding.
Are you taking sides on this one?
No matter where you stand, you’ll probably be pleased to hear that Kindles are helping to … yep, kindle … literacy around the world.
A non-profit organization called Worldreader is partnering with companies like Random House and Amazon.com, and government institutions like USAID, in an effort to make digital books available to children and families throughout the developing world. Beginning in Africa, Worldreader is taking advantage of the fact that newfangled e-reader technology can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of delivering reading material on a global scale, so millions more people will be able to benefit from the educational bounty of books.
“In much of the world, children have access to a vanishingly small range of reading material,” reports Worldreader.com. “Transportation issues, logistical problems, payment difficulties—all reduce the availability of books and written material in the developing world. Yet imagine what children miss if they never discover an encyclopedia, an explanation of our solar system, or a favorite book about dinosaurs.”
Because electronic readers use mobile-phone technology and solar power, they can track down hundreds of thousands of full-length books, newspapers, and magazines at very high speed and at a very low cost. To this end, Worldreader.org is raising money to bridge the gap between the cost of the devices and the price local governments are willing to pay.
“In addition, we are giving African authors a global platform to publish their work,” Worldreader’s David Risher told The Huffington Post. “I hope this encourages more local writing, publishing, reading, and all the social goods that come with these things.”
Can’t argue with that.
You can keep up with Worldreader’s work via their blog. It’s safe to say that we haven’t heard the last of these benevolent folks (or of Kindles, either, for that matter).
The times they are a-changin’. Me? I still have a physical library lined with tactile reads. I’m slowly softening—not caving, just softening, but the edges for me are definitely beginning to blur.