It solves the problem of distribution. Since e-readers can store thousands of e-books this solves the problem of figuring out what books to give to people to make them engaged in reading. Time spent in school tells me that a person who doesn’t find material in front of him interesting will likely not put in the time and effort into reading it. With so much material possibly stored in e-readers everyone is bound to find something of interest. And in case they don’t find anything interesting in the 3,500 e-books already on their devices the 3G capability means that people in remote areas of the country can still have access to other e-books in places where their cell phone works. There is no need to hook up to expensive computers or the infrastructure to support them. Furthermore there are thousands of out of copyright books out there and books published before 1923, free for download so that you don’t even have to pay a single centavo to get them. But really the most inspiring thought in my mind of the potential of these devices is that in some remote barrio somewhere in our country a bright but poor kid willing to learn and educate himself has available to him the best materials in the world through an e-reader he holds in his hands. That, to my mind, more than justifies the cost of any device.
By the way Worldreader.org did a small scale project along these lines with 20 kindles and 30,000 free e-book titles in the village of Ayenyah, Ghana (Africa). It’s proved so successful that they’re increasing the project to 336 Kindles in 4 schools.