In places like Africa, books are rare and expensive just like computers, telephones, and Internet service. Instead of spending money buying books, PCs, and telephones, many Africans avoid this entire costly infrastructure by reading on their smartphones instead. In fact, smartphones and e-books promise to spread literacy around Africa and other places where printed books are scarce. Forbes reports that in Nigeria, the illiteracy rate is over 40% where there’s only one library per 1,350,000 people.
Yet as more Africans adopt smartphones in lieu of the expensive infrastructure of wired phones, that gives more Africans a chance to read e-books. Since printed books are so expensive to make, store, and ship, e-books offer many parts of the underdeveloped world a chance to read. The more people able to read, the more people can share their knowledge with others no matter what part of the world they may live in, and that knowledge can get to them instantaneously.
For e-book authors, that means you can reach an even larger market than ever before. While you may not make a large number of sales to third World countries, the sheer number of buyers in those areas means that someone will likely see and buy your e-books, especially if your e-books are particularly relevant to their part of the world such as learning low-cost ways to find and store clean water, irrigate crops, or generate power from the wind and the sun.
Smartphones will become the new reading platform for many people so ask yourself what type of e-books would people most like to read on the smaller screen of a smartphone. Whatever your answer, you can be sure that the more potential customers you can reach in the world, the more potential sales you can make. That’s good news for everyone but the traditional book publishers still wedded to their antiquated system of printing expensive, bulky, and heavy books, shipping them long distances, and hoping to make a profit from them even though they may go out of date rapidly.