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Worldreader, a nonprofit, brings e-books to developing countries

Worldreader recently announced that it's allowing more than 500,000 readers to access e-books through their cellphones.

By Staff Writer / April 11, 2013

Worldreader provides access to e-books through mobile phones and e-readers.

Courtesy of Worldreader

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An American and European nonprofit organization called Worldreader is pursuing its mission of making electronic books available to families through their cell phones and e-readers. The group says that it is currently reaching hundreds of thousands of people.

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Worldreader, co-founded by former Amazon executive David Risher, is particularly interested in bringing e-books to families through their cell phones because these are so readily available and many readers can easily access titles that way. The organization also brings e-readers to schools in developing countries.

A visit to Ecuador inspired Risher to create Worldreader. He was working at an orphanage and was told that the library building was inaccessible because it was locked and the leader of the orphanage had lost the key. In addition, the months it took for books to arrive in the area meant young readers didn’t have a steady supply of new titles to try.

According to a recent blog post, the organization is now reaching more than 500,000 readers through their phones. Users download a Worldreader Mobile app that allows them to access the organization’s books, which include more than 1,200 free titles available through the app.

“There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes on this planet,” Risher said in a statement. “Together with our growing e-reader program, Worldreader Mobile connects us to millions of the world’s poorest people, providing the books they need to improve their lives.”

The organization’s statistics showed that their users read 60,000 hours per month total and that 70 percent of those using the program are women.

According to Worldreader, two of their goals are getting communities more focused on reading and pushing literacy rates higher than UN predictions.

“The opportunity to provide books for all is great, but so are the challenges,” reads a statement on the organization’s website. “This is at the heart of what Worldreader hopes to address.”

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