Friday, October 31, 2008

Publishing + Social Media

An uncut book after bookbinding from folded pa...Image via WikipediaSteven Hodson points out how Thomas Nelson Publishers have set up a website called Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers as a place where bloggers can choose to write a review of one of their books and in return, receive a free copy of the book. And what's more, it only needs to be a review - positive or negative.

Good thinking! One way to get more people talking about your books.

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Story Revolution

Recently stumbled upon a website called Story Revolution and this is what they do:
At Story Revolution we select and source children’s books from second-hand bookstores around India.

We choose books that are exceptionally warm and spirited, cherished by children all over the world, and yet often difficult to find in India. Some of these books are only available as imports in second-hand stores, where cartons of books have to be sifted through to find a few wonderful books.

Most of these books are Newbery medal or honor books, ALA (American Library Association) best or notable books, winners of the Laura Ingalls Wilder medal or other prestigious international awards. The others are hand-picked for their spirit and excellence.

We would like every child to be able to access these books. We prefer to give concessions when books are going to be shared by a lot of children, and frequently give varying concessions to small schools, libraries, etc.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free to Read: Forever Friends

It has been a while since we've uploaded a book for you to read so here's one called Forever Friends. The original story in Hindi called Dosti Ka Safar was written by Feisal Alkazi. Feisal also worked on this English translation and the illustrations are by Neeta Gangopadhya. This book is © Rajiv Gandhi Foundation – Pratham Books, 2008.
Himu and Morinda stood next to each other in the forest and were the best of friends. But their idyllic life soon turns upside down when they find themselves turned into wooden toys! Read this heartwarming story of two trees who remain friends forever.
If you'd like to order some of our books, please click here.

Google to sell Books?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

Ars Technica:
Google announces a $125 million deal that settles a lawsuit with publishers that had sued it over its book search. Not only does it put the search feature in the clear, but it may see Google become a major retailer of out-of-print books.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Won!

Akshara won an award (the award website has not been updated ) for their Karnataka Learning Partnership project but since we share an office, we won! But more than the award, it's the children of Bangalore who've won and continue to win.

Here's a picture of the Akshara trustees, Rohini, Ashok, Kanchan and Suzie with the award that Ashok collected on the 20th of October at a ceremony in Chicago.

Akshara Foundation was awarded the joint gold in the 2008 Excellence in Information Integrity Awards in the Non-Profit category for it's commitment towards showing specific, quantifiable and significant benefits along with demonstrated innovation and verifiable proof of accomplishments in the education sector.

The project website is here.
Beginning three years ago, the KLP project started as an effort to capture data on a child-by-child basis and use that data to bring in remedial interventions early in the academic progression of the child and accelerate the learning outcomes of children. We recognized this need and created a comprehensive database of information covering all government primary schools in Bangalore as part of the Karnataka Learning Partnership initiative, which also has as an objective, the dissemination of information to various stakeholders. To monitor and analyze the impact of these interventions in a timely manner, there was a need for resources in terms of ICT inputs and we created a comprehensive database of children, teachers and schools, created assessment processes for Reading and Math for all children and this included conducting baseline tests, recording the results followed by interventions that need to be measured and assessed to find the effectiveness of the interventions, integrated an open source library process metrics analysis package called Koha to tracking reading progress over time and host a publicly accessible website to disseminate information to all stakeholders.
Also, do read, and subscribe, to the KLP blog here.

If you find this project of interest and would like to contribute, please leave us a comment.

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Exhibitions, Fairs and Sales

We recently had an exhibition and sale at Texas Instruments in Bangalore and one at Ernst and Young in Bangalore. A big thank you to both!

A few pictures from both (click to see the album)...


(click through if to see, if you are reading via email or RSS)

India's first-ever children's literature festival!

Bookaroo! India's first ever (arguably) children's literature festival is happening in Delhi on 22rd and 23rd November at the Sanskriti Anandgram.

Pratham Books' "City of Stories" will be read out by author Rukmini Banerji on 23rd November from 10.30 -11.30am. This beautifully illustrated storybook recently won an award for excellence in Book production. The competition was conducted by Federation of Indian Publishers.

Click here to know more about the festival.

Getting Involved

(Click to see the video, if you're reading this via email or RSS)

Dave Eggers' wish:

"I wish that you — you personally and every creative individual and organization you know — will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area, and that you’ll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public-private partnerships."
Once Upon a School

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Raising Money in a Non-Profit World

Begging bowls, Wat PoImage by Shostak via Flickr
Seth links to an extremely compelling vision set forth by Sasha Dichter who writes in defense of raising money for and by non-profit but more importantly, defines the problem through a unique lens.
How good is your idea? How important is your cause? Important enough that you’ve given up another life to lead this life. You’ve given up another job, another steady paycheck, another bigger paycheck to do this all day long, every day, for years if not for decades, to make a change in the world and to right a wrong.
So why are you so scared to ask people for money? Why do you feel afraid to say: “This problem is so important and so urgent that it is worth your time and your money to fix it. I’m devoting my whole life to fixing this problem. I’m asking you to devote some of your resources to my life’s work too.”
If your ideas and programs and people and vision are so great, shouldn’t people be willing to reach into their pockets and fund them? If it’s worth spending your life doing this work, shouldn’t you or someone in your organization be able to convince someone elsIdea album covere that the work is worth supporting?
I’d rather be an evangelist, a storyteller, an educator, a translator, a table-pounder, a guy on his soap box, a woman with a megaphone, a candidate for change. I want to talk to as many people as I can about my ideas – whether in person or in newsletters or on Facebook or Twitter or in the Economist or at the TED conference or at Davos – and capture their imagination about the change I hope to see in the world.
It's a game changing article. Please do read the full thing either here or here (PDF Link)

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Ghost in the Books

Halloween iconImage via WikipediaThe Britannica Blog has a round up of libraries that apparently are haunted. Just in time for Halloween too.

They also have a similar post from last year.

Haunted or not, the real scary story is the number of children in India who cannot read and those who can read but have nothing to read - two areas that Pratham, Read India, Akshara and Pratham Books are working on. Come join us...

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Judge a Book by its Cover

Ever wanted to judge a book by its cover? Now you can! JudgeBy allows you to judge a book by its cover and compare your review with those from Amazon.

Go ahead, give it a shot.

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An Atlas of Real Books Published Globally

Via the wonderful blog comes this map where the size of each territory shows the number of new book titles published each year*.
“Each new book published is counted only once on this map, regardless of how many copies it sells… A book is defined as having at least 50 pages; a pamphlet has 5 to 49 pages. Publications with fewer than 5 pages are not shown on this map. Worldwide, about a million new book titles were published in 1999, with the largest numbers published in the United Kingdom, China and Germany. Overall, the map is dominated by Western Europe, which is home to a number of well established publishing houses. [* Books titles published, number per million people, 1999.]” adds:
The data is over a decade old, but I’d wager the proportions are still reasonably accurate, despite the massive growth of publishing in India and other developing nations. Europe, and particularly Britain still publishes too many books.
From The Atlas of the Real World

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Download Wikipedia. For Free!

SOS Children's Village in Mar del Plata, ArgentinaImage via Wikipedia

Do you like Wikipedia? Download a copy. For free! And yes, it's legal.
Today, the latest edition of the Wikipedia school edition has been released by SOS Children’s Villages, a charity organization that aims to help orphans and vulnerable children worldwide. The 08/09 edition can be downloaded for free, via BitTorrent only, and comprises over 5500 hand-picked educational articles aimed at helping schools to enhance their curriculum.

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Oprah's Favorite Gadget...

Amazon KindleImage by davidking via Flickr... is a hand-held, portable digital book reader called the Kindle and sold by Amazon!

This summer, Oprah received a gift that she says changed her life. "I'm telling you, it is absolutely my new favorite thing in the world," she says.
I bet you didn't see that coming...

Oprah's Website has more.

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On Free Riding

WikipediaImage via Wikipedia

Timothy Lee over at the Freedom to Tinker blog details why the 'free rider' problem has not stopped Wikipedia, and other forms of user generated content, from blossoming on the Internet.
... the idea of "free riding" is based on a couple of key 20th-century assumptions that just don't apply to the online world. The first assumption is that the production of content is a net cost that must either be borne by the producer or compensated by consumers... participating in Wikipedia is a net positive experience for both readers and editors. We don't need to "solve" the free rider problem because there are more than enough people out there for whom the act of contributing is its own reward.

The second problem with the "free riding" frame is that it faGraphic representation of a minute fraction of...ils to appreciate that the sheer scale of the Internet changes the nature of collective action problems... on Wikipedia—and a lot of other online content-creation efforts—the ratio of contributors to users just doesn't matter. Because the marginal cost of copying and distributing content is very close to zero, institutions can get along just fine with arbitrarily high "free riding" rates.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

A Hole in The Wall

Speaking at LIFT 2007, Sugata Mitra talks about his Hole in the Wall project. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own - and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?

And more from an old Business Week article:
And Indian physicist puts a PC with a high speed internet connection in a wall in the slums and watches what happens. Based on the results, he talks about issues of digital divide, computer education and kids, the dynamics of the third world getting online.

New Delhi physicist Sugata Mitra has a radical proposal for bringing his country's next generation into the Info Age.
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Pop-Up Books

Via BoingBoing:

"I picked up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Pop-Up Book yesterday after being poleaxed by it in a bookstore window. Paper engineer Sam Ita has created a magnificent, giggle-inducing, gorgeous adaptation of the classic Jules Verne tale, retelling the story with a series of gigantic, page-bursting pop-up effects that push the limits of paper technology. The story is retold using charming Tin Tin-esque comics-panels, and there's just enough verbiage there to glue together the vast and hypnotic paper-effects. At 8 months, my daughter Poesy has just started to turn pages on books, and she was completely mesmerised by this one, slowly turning the page, then closing it, then opening it again, visibly delighted by the clever ways that the paper unfolded -- and unfolded -- and unfolded. Each scene has lots of little easter eggs and secondary scenes in it too, little grace notes that turn this from a merely great book to a world-class piece of paper-fetish..."

Feynman on School Textbooks

R. Feynman - The pleasure of finding things outImage by .Fabio via Flickr

Via Kottke:
The same thing happened: something would look good at first and then turn out to be horrifying. For example, there was a book that started out with four pictures: first there was a windup toy; then there was an automobile; then there was a boy riding a bicycle; then there was something else. And underneath each picture it said, "What makes it go?"

I thought, "I know what it is: They're going to talk about mechanics, how the springs work inside the toy; about chemistry, how the engine of the automobile works; and biology, about how the muscles work."

It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: "What makes it go? Everything goes because the sun is shining." And then we would have fun discussing it:

"No, the toy goes because the spring is wound up," I would say. "How did the spring get wound up?" he would ask.

"I wound it up."

"And how did you get moving?"Feynman sectionImage by Keenan Pepper via Flickr

"From eating."

"And food grows only because the sun is shining. So it's because the sun is shining that all these things are moving." That would get the concept across that motion is simply the transformation of the sun's power.

Read the full piece: Judging Books by Their Covers - Richard P. Feynman
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Opensource Concerns

Logo Open Source InitiativeImage via Wikipedia

Confused of Calcutta has a good post that lists reasons for people's reluctance to embrace open source software but it would apply to open source methods of production of content and distribution too as well as open access to content.
  1. They hate the principle.
  2. They believe it’s insecure.
  3. They’re out of their comfort zone.
  4. They know a better way.
  5. They don’t know about it.
  6. They can’t do what they want with it.
  7. The move represents serious operational risk.
Go across and read the full post.

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Pakistan's Digital Library

A selection of programming language textbooks ...Image via Wikipedia

Via Open Access News:
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has formally launched its unique Digital Library program to provide students, faculty members and researchers free access to over 25,000 international journals and 45,000 textbooks anywhere in the country. Former HEC Chairman Prof. Dr Attaur Rehman informed the vice chancellors of various universities about the digital library program through a letter. The program was initiated in 2004 to promote productive research in the country. Some 300 universities, public and private, and research institutes benefit from this program. ~ Daily Times

You can access the library here.

In India, NCERT provides free access to all their text books here.

And the DSERT provides free access to Standard X text books here.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Book cover of Book cover via Amazon

Via Foreign Policy come this story that Tom Brokow describes thusly:
Three Cups of Tea is one of the most remarkable adventure stories of our time. Greg Mortenson’s dangerous and difficult quest to build schools in the wildest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is not only a thrilling read, it’s proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world.

Read more about the book here.

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Picture from Libraries

A tip o' the hat to Gowri for these pictures.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Round Up

3rd floor lobby (with 2 people)Image by tanakawho via Flickr

Via BlogBharti, the importance of education:
As soon as the son ( some 6 years old ) saw this , he asked his father “Appa (Father) , What is this ? “. The father , an illiterate , who was badly drunk at that time was silent for a while . Then he said a word to his son “Dear , these are all what you are going to make in the future . These are rockets and Helicophters “. He continued ” I am working everyday night so that you can...
Read the rest here.

It seems that the Radiohead experiment, of allowing users to pay what they chose for the music, was a success and that "Radiohead made much more money from this experiment than from their previous album."

And Mutiny on linguistic chauvinism.
Too much of love for anything that we hold dear to our hearts could make us extremists. So we need to take good care of the whole language-love not leading to regional or linguistic chauvinism. There is nothing wrong in taking pride of one’s own language or culture but when it turns to establish that only ours is supreme, it will cause trouble.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Word Cloud

Search Terms - Frequency Distribution

Were created using:


Both incredibly useful tools to help visualise the written word.

Donating to Read India

This is a great opportunity to donate to our project.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bihar Floods - A Report

A post visit report by Pratham on the Bihar floods by Farida Lambay & Mallika Singh. (Click through to our blog to see the presentation if you're reading this via RSS or email)

A Shared Culture

The video above (click through to the blog to see the video if you're reading this via RSS or email) was created to:
...celebrate a fund raising campaign campaign run by Creative Commons. “A Shared Culture,” a short video by renowned filmmaker Jesse Dylan known for helming a variety of films, music videos, and the Emmy Award-winning “Yes We Can” Barack Obama campaign video collaboration with rapper, Dylan created “A Shared Culture” to help spread the word about the Creative Commons mission. In the video, some of the leading thinkers behind Creative Commons describe how the organization is helping “save the world from failed sharing” through free tools that enable creators to easily make their work available to the public for legal sharing and remix. Dylan puts the Creative Commons system into action by punctuating the interview footage with dozens of photos that have been offered to the public for use under CC licenses. Similarly, he used two CC-licensed instrumental pieces by Nine Inch Nails as the video’s soundtrack music. These tracks, “17 Ghosts II” and “21 Ghosts III,” come from the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV, which was released earlier this year under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

You can read more about the sources of the audio and video in this re-mix here.

Also, this just out:
RiP: A remix manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers. RiP : A remix manifesto is an open source documentary about copyright and culture

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Virdhawal in form at the Commonwealth Youth Games 2008

Virdhawal Khade sweeps two Silvers and one Gold medal at the CYG 2008. The teen sensation creates two new National records and a new Games record on Day One. Way to go Veer!!!!

Pratham Books had recently launched a children's book called "Kolhapur to Beijing - Freestyle! " This book traces Virdhawal's journey from a small town like Kolhapur to the Olympics. Its a story full of grit and determination and a must read for all children.

If you'd like to buy the book, please click here.

If you's like to see the book launch pictures please click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Search Terms - Frequency Distribution

This is a word cloud, limited to 100 odd terms, that has been generated using a cumulative list of all search terms ever used to find our blog via search engines. The size of the words in the picture below correlates to the search frequency of that particular word and the cloud has been arranged in alphabetic order.

Click on the image to see it full size.

Virdhawal Khade and Pratham Books on NDTV

A story that appeared on NDTV is in the video above. Virdhawal Khade is the flag bearer for the Indian contingent at the Commonwealth Youth Games being held in Pune.

Picture of the launch of the book Kolhapur to Beijing – Freestyle are here.

If you'd like to buy the book mentioned in the video, please click here.

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