Library For All has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an ebook platform that would enable the distribution of ebooks in the developing world. The organization is seeking $100,000 in pledges to roll out a pilot program at the Respire School in Gressier, Haiti this fall.
Former construction industry executive Rebecca McDonald got the idea for the ebook platform after moving to Haiti in 2010 to help the country rebuild in the aftermath of that year’s devastating earthquake. Noticing a conspicuous shortage of textbooks at a Haitian school, and realizing that the rapid growth of the mobile telecom sector in Haiti and throughout the developing world could make ebook distribution simple and inexpensive, McDonald worked with Tanyella Evans to found Library For All in 2011. Evans is now Chief Operating Officer. With a minimal staff and an advisory board that includes Peter Balis, director of digital strategic partnerships and business development for John Wiley & Sons and Lisa Sharkey, senior VP and director of creative development at HarperCollins, the team has spent the past year planning the platform and negotiating with several major publishers.
Developed in partnership with Thoughtworks, the platform will manage publisher-donated, DRM-protected content with a one-user, one-book model, along with a curated collection of open educational resources (OER) in a cloud-based environment that will not require a local server. Wireless routers designed to work with mobile networks (similar to the BRCK router developed by Kenya-based tech nonprofit Ushahidi) will then distribute ebooks and other materials anywhere there is mobile reception, Evans told LJ. The platform is designed to be device agnostic, with content optimized for inexpensive tablets such as Datawind’s Aakash line.
With the pilot test at the Respire School, Library For All plans to prove the platform’s viability and assure publishers that it can manage donated digital content securely in a single school environment with 500 students. If they can prove that the model works, the pilot will expand within Haiti and will be introduced into two new countries in 2014 via partnerships with local ministries of education and NGOs.
In an effort to boost pledges from small donors, Library For All on Monday launched a “10 Friends x $10 x 10 days” social media campaign, encouraging Facebook users to pledge $10 and tell 10 of their friends about the project from June 10 through June 20.