David Risher is President and Co-Founder of Worldreader, which aims to create a future where everyone can be a reader. Using low-cost technology, such as e-readers and mobile phones, a personalized digital library, and a worldwide network of corporate and non-profit partners, Worldreader helps millions of people reach their potential. David holds a degree in Comparative Literature, Princeton University, an MBA, Harvard University and a PhD, Wilson College. Before Worldreader, David was the General Manager at Microsoft, the Senior Vice-President at US Retail for Amazon.com. He is a member of multiple councils, boards and educational foundations, including Member of Princeton University’s Comparative Literature Advisory Council and is a Member of the International Advisory Board of Catalonia, Spain.
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Worldreader is creating a future where everyone can be a reader. Using low-cost technology, such as e-readers and mobile phones, a personalized digital library, and a worldwide network of corporate and non-profit partners, Worldreader helps millions of people reach their potential. It offers a collection of more than 42,000 digital books from over 400 publishers in 43 languages, including Kiswahili, Hausa, Afrikaans and English, contributing to local heritage and identity.
Worldreader's overall goal is to contribute to eliminating poverty, reducing inequality and improving prosperity. Since 2010, Worldreader has reached over 7 million readers with a monthly readership of over 500,000. In 2017, readers spent 29 million hours reading from Worldreader's mobile phone library and e-readers – equivalent to reading Tolstoy's War and Peace over 900,000 times. The organization's Worldreader Kids programme combines a custom app on mobile phones with digital and community outreach. It has reached 203,000 families in India and helped 7,000 caregivers read more than four times every month with their children.
In primary schools, partner Pencils of Promise tested 1,000 students and found those in Worldreader's programme doubled their weekly reading time. Students with e-readers and teacher support achieved 6-times greater word recognition than controls. Worldreader's Ghana District Scale project aims to reach 45,000 primary school students in Ghana by 2020, empowering an entire school district and serving as a large-scale proof-point for the adoption of digital reading. In libraries, Worldreader's LEAP project serves all 62 Kenya National Library Service branches. Since June 2016, e-readers in the libraries, each holding 200 local and international books, have been checked out over 500,000 times. The organization aims to serve library systems in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia next.
Adult women read 207 minutes per month, which is 6-times more than men, on their mobile phones using Worldreader apps, according to UNESCO's Reading in the Mobile Era report. Over 150 African publishers have attended Worldreader's capacity-building Digital Reading Summits. In total, Worldreader has distributed over $1.5 million to more than 400 local publishers for digital rights, strengthening local publishing ecosystems and local culture.