Worldreader, the non-profit that distributes e-readers to developing countries to improve literacy, has struck a deal with Amazon and African publishers. They are digitizing and offering African analog books for sale as e-books.
The first of thousands of books by African writers and from African publishers are available now at the Amazon Kindle store. The prices for all books are under $5.00 US. The profits will be split between Worldreader's program to provide e-readers to students in Ghana and the publishers themselves, who now have a worldwide market.
One of the questions facing the non-profit, which was started by a former Amazon executive, was how the distribution of Western-made e-readers would help the local and regional economies where they were used.
Encouraging the viability of the African publishing trade is not solely an ethical stance, but an economic one. If African publishers, like Ghana-based EPP, Sam Woode, and Woeli, can thrive, readers will have more to read, which will increase demand. Conversely, if African youth become voracious readers, African publishers will be insured a market.
Books currently available include the following.
My Brother the Footballer by Diana Macbagonluri
Two brothers qualify for a regional sports meet in Nigeria. Unfortunately one
is injured and unable to compete. How will the other brother save the day?
Mother's Tribute by Diana Macbagonluri
Through the lens of traditional puberty rights, we learn the tragic tale of a mother
and her daughter in the context of Ghanaian culture.
The Shark by Peggy Oppong
The story of a teacher from a poor upbringing who is wrongly accused of
inappropriate activity with a high school student, loses his job, and later wrestles
with his feelings for another former student whose wealthy father wants to
promote him within the family company.
Worldreader.org is working with Innodata Isogen to effect the transfer from paper and ink to zeroes and ones. In the coming year, they hope to work with hundreds more publishers. As the Ghana project comes to fruition and new projects take root around the globe, this publishing experiment may be extended as well.