A Global Mobile Reading Revolution

April 30, 2014

A year-long study conducted by UNESCO shows that a “mobile reading revolution” has begun in developing countries. Nearly five thousand people in seven countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe, participated in the research. The findings show that the numbers of individuals reading have gone up sixty-two percent since mobile phones have made reading material more accessible and affordable. One in three participants said they read to their children from their mobile phones. Ninety percent implied that they planned to spend more time reading on their phones in the near future. The report shows “that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilized, pathway to text. It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed, easily and cheaply, into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurtle to literacy.”

Given that data from the UN shows over six of the seven billion people on Earth have access to a working mobile phone, the fact that reading on a mobile device makes text more readily available is difficult to argue against. There is, however, an additional cost benefit that makes the case for world literacy via cell phone even stronger. According to UNESCO, in Zimbabwe, the cost of reading a book on a mobile device was between five and six cents. Paperback bestsellers cost twelve dollars. Similarly, in Nigeria, the cost of a mobile book is one to two cents while a printed children’s book can be anywhere from one to five dollars.

According to Worldreader’s Nadja Borovac, mobile reading can “really change people’s lives. We work in countries where there is serious shortage of books but where cell phone are plentiful… We are hoping people will realize the potential of mobile reading, and that governments and partners will get behind not only us but other organizations using mobile technology to help provide learning and books, and help improve literacy skills.”

 

Source: The Guardian

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