Tag Archives: developing world

How Can Reading Help a New Country?

How can reading help a new nation? Photo courtesy of UNESCO/E.Abramson

A very rare thing will happen today: A new nation will be born as Southern Sudan secedes from war-torn Sudan.  The poverty and living conditions of the region are difficult for those in the developed world to comprehend.  A recent study by the United Nations indicates that South Sudan has the lowest primary school enrollment in the world.  Only 8% of the new nation’s women are literate, and teenage girls are more likely to die giving birth than to finish school.


According to the World Education Blog, UNESCO and the UK Department for International Development are targeting education as the keystone to building a new future for South Sudan.  The story indicates that schools and school children were the deliberate target of attacks throughout the war in Sudan; officials hope that a focus on education is the best route to undoing the damage.

I agree.  An educated, reading populace is the best route to building a flourishing, stable state for the long-term.  An informed public, one that reads history and learns from the struggles of its predecessors, is best situated to avoid the pitfalls of new-nation status.

I will leave the particulars of exactly how to build an education system within South Sudan to the development experts.  However, GoneReading is committed to its mission of funding library construction and literacy programs in the developing world.  We’re a start-up organization ourselves, but in the long-run we hope to play a prominent role in the rebuilding of South Sudan.  Non-profits seeking funding for such work should email us at libraryfunding@gonereading.com.

I would like to know your thoughts.  How can reading help a new country?  Join the conversation by commenting below.

Feel free to read more on the situation in South Sudan.


Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO

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Reading Is Evolving – And That’s A Good Thing

"The Evolution of Reading" merchandise now available for purchase at GoneReading.com. All profits benefit literacy.

The publishing world is in an upheaval, Borders has filed for Chapter 11, and libraries are struggling to maintain their funding.  All true, but none of these facts are evidence that reading itself is on the decline.

It’s evolving, for sure.  But I hear a lot of false speculation that reading as an activity is doomed to plummet along with sales of the printed book.

To the contrary, here is my three-step argument that reading will thrive in the years to come:

  1. eReader ownership is growing at a meteoric rate, with 12% of adults claiming to own such a device, double that of just six months ago.  This trend is not going to stop anytime soon.
  2. eBook sales are skyrocketing, with Amazon now reporting that eBook sales actually outpace that of printed books.  Again, it’s hard to see this trend slowing down anytime soon.
  3. People read more once they convert to an eReader, as shown by two independent studies in this article, as well in this release by researcher Harris Interactive.

If these three statements are true, and it’s hard to find arguments against any one of them, it seems blindingly clear that reading has a solid future.  Publishers, printers, bookstores and libraries all have their challenges ahead of them.

But reading itself stands to prosper.

More Reading Is Always Better

We have a saying at GoneReading that more reading is always better, regardless of the content or format.  And the fact is that eReaders will play a dramatic role in increasing readership in every corner of the world.

The positive implications for the developing world are unprecedented.  Just as cell phone technology has leapfrogged landlines in the developing world, eReaders can leapfrog the printed book with stunning results.  Non-profits such as WorldReader are adapting and testing eReader technology to bring the magic of reading to places where the printed book has yet to arrive.

Lastly, there’s also a strong case to be made that eReaders are better for the environment than the printed book.

My Conclusion

No one loves the printed book more than myself; I’m fortunate enough to own hundreds of them, and I have yet to buy an eReader.

But our sentiments can’t stop technologies from evolving and improving.  Despite the pain these changes effect in the short run – and they are heart wrenching changes for many people in the industries mentioned above – the evolution of reading is good for the world.

Feel free to prove me right or wrong by commenting below!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this little article, please flatter us by subscribing to this blog via email or RSS Feed.  Doing so plays a big role in supporting our philanthropic mission!

Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO

My Love of Reading, My Secret Desire to Serve Time, and How Readers Can Change the World

For me, reading is as good as it gets.  For as long as I can remember I’ve had an attraction to books that is hard to describe.

I remember how badly I wanted to check out a real book – one with no pictures at all – from my elementary school library, and how the librarian sat me down and asked me to read the first paragraph.  After I stumbled through the first sentence, she politely sent me back to the picture books.

In the fifth grade I desperately wanted to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King.  I just knew those pages were filled with magic, but I still couldn’t make it through the first few pages.  And as I realized many years later, Return of the King is actually the last book in the trilogy!  My love of reading was years ahead of my ability to comprehend.

The first “real” book that I read to completion was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  I raced through it without blinking, and I was hooked for life.

Ever since then I’ve been a hardcore reader, the kind of person who doesn’t even go to the doctor’s office without something interesting to read.  Each new phase of my life has begun with a visit to the library, bookstore, or more recently, Amazon.  Learning to sail, landing an internship, getting a job, starting my first business… I learned it all from reading.

My love of reading sometimes hits ridiculous extremes: When watching the news and hearing about so-and-so’s life sentence to prison I perversely think “Lucky bastard. Now you can spend all day just reading.”  And while prison probably doesn’t actually work that way, in the back of my mind it sounds pretty awesome.

Quite separately, my love of reading has blessed me to the point that I recently founded a philanthropic brand called GoneReading™.  The first lifestyle brand of apparel and gifts for those who love to read, GoneReading™ donates 100% of after-tax profits to fund library and literacy projects in the developing world.  Readers, just like reading itself, can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives.

And so my love of reading continues.  Right now I’m spending quite a bit of time at the local library researching my plan for GoneReading™ to, ironically, build libraries around the world.  As you might imagine, I’ve got a lot of reading to do.

If you love to read, and if my story sounds at all familiar, then please follow along and get involved with the GoneReading™ story.  By doing so I think you will find that your own love of reading can truly help change the world.

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