Monday, September 27, 2004

Books printed on demand in Ugandan villages

This article in Wired magazine shows what can be done for education in developing nations, with technology and a little imagination. An organization called Anywhere Books is providing free custom book-printing services out of a modified vehicle that visits Ugandan villages. In partnership with the Internet Archive, Anywhere Books can print from a catalog of public domain works. (These include books, of course, but also cover a library of reports, articles, images, and audio). They also partner with Pact, a non-profit development organization. So while kids can get reading books, farmers can get how-to guides.

All of this on a $150,000 grant from the World Bank.

Here in the US we have all been using remote print-on-demand services for years: if you are in New York about to rush to JFK to catch a plane to a client meeting in Chicago, you submit your presentation or report to an online Kinko’s site and nominate where you want the hardcopy printed and delivered from. By the time you reach your client, a pile of locally-produced reports is waiting for you.

Anywhere Books is a novel twist on that concept. Now if only they can replace Alice in Wonderland and Peter Rabbit with something more relevant to the local Ugandan culture.

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