With the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference coming up in February, James Turner (writing for O’Reilly Radar) interviewed me and Ramy Habeeb of Kotobarabia about ebooks in Africa (me) and Arabic ebooks (Ramy). We seem to be the conference’s two developing-country experts, and perhaps this shows in our focus on ebooks and digitization as tools for upliftment and knowledge-preservation. We’re clear that those priorities should be integral to our business interests.
I particularly like this practical approach Kotobarabia has developed to dealing with the difficulties of digitizing Arabic works:
The thing that we do is to scan the pages, and then we’ll have people read the pages and pick out key words so that the books become semi-searchable. We do these for most of our books. But if we find that a book is being read over and over again or that this title has a particular interest, then we’ll go back and retype it. It’s actually cheaper this way to do it, it’s a more sustainable business model.
If you don’t feel like reading the article, there’s audio of each interview there too.