Mobile Reading: Why it Matters

Mobile Reading

This is a guest blog post by Nancy Brown. Nancy is currently managing Worldreader’s content acquisition in Southeast Asia by working with publishers and authors who are interested in extending their reach to global audiences. 

Last April, UNESCO released its study Reading in the Mobile Era. The study looked at the reading habits and preferences of 4,000 Worldreader Mobile users in emerging markets (Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe). The unequivocal conclusion: people are in fact reading on their mobile phones.

Why does this matter?

The increasing ubiquity of mobile technology translates as access for readers and new markets for publishers.

A close up on the publishing landscape in Nigeria reflects the lack of access that exists in parts of the developing world. “[In Nigeria] distribution systems, where they exist, are non-efficient. Illiteracy is rampant, half the 150 million people live in poverty, and for most people buying a mere paperback remains a luxury” (Publishing Perspectives, 2011). Tackling a fragmented industry, like Nigeria’s, is daunting, but it becomes doable with the ubiquity of mobile technology.

Worldreader Mobile is an application that empowers readers to access a library of free books on any internet-enabled phone. Over 90% of Worldreader Mobile’s readers are from emerging markets in Africa and Asia with a particularly large user base in Nigeria. Just this month Worldreader Mobile had over 7,000 unique users in Nigeria, spending 1,243,075 minutes reading, completing over 4,800 books.

What can we learn from this surplus of engagement?

When accessible, books will be read. We know this because of data – metrics that were previously unattainable in the print space. The digital age allows for unprecedented data into user habits, preferences and the type of content being consumed. With over 2.8 million unique readers Worldreader Mobile is a fertile testing ground for powerful data on user behavior. For example, the UNESCO survey revealed that mobile readers favor genres related to romance, education and religion and that many users are seeking content in their local languages.

How does this data help build new markets?

Data means knowing what our readers want and using mobile as the vehicle for delivery. With 75 million downloads and a collection of content in 12 regional languages, Newshunt is the mobile app that is bridging the gap between the demand for books in local languages and the supply of publishers looking to extend the reach of their content.

Newshunt secures a consumer base of over 100 million by supplying readers with local language content from local authors. This Indian startup is crossing into the commercial space with 40% of its users being paying customers – users that are attracted to the seamless payment gateway that Newshunt offers. Newshunt’s iPayy integrates billing into the mobile carrier with each purchase being billed as a microtransaction. Gone are the days when e-commerce was exclusive to credit card holders. Paying for content on mobile phones is now easy. Meeting the challenges of payment integration and local content acquisition, Newshunt is successfully building a new market of readers.

The progress of applications like Worldreader Mobile and Newshunt demonstrates the capacity of mobile technology as an equalizer and facilitator. Mobile is creating pathways for readers like never before. What used to be a “mere luxury” for millions in Nigeria is now a reality and it’s up to the industry to keep this reality viable.

Source for Newshunt stats –

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