What The Developing World Is Reading Online

Two young African females reading from their mobile phonesE-literacy nonprofit Worldreader released its list of the top digital books read by children and adults on mobile devices across Asia and Africa in 2015.  In total, over 6 million children, adults and families in the developing world read more than 17 million hours on Worldreader’s mobile phone applications and Kindle ereaders in 2015. The list of most popular books includes top book titles, genres, most popular authors, and top search terms in 2015 among readers in 31 countries across the two continents.

The book topics gives much insight into not only reading preferences, but also many societal dynamics happening in Asia and Africa.  Romance is the most popular genre for adults using Worldreader. Health books followed close behind, including texts on reproductive health and disease prevention – particularly malaria. Both men and women want to know 14 Things You Should Know About Sex, but men also want to know about Lionel Messi, the Argentinian soccer player. Children’s favorite books are varied, with a focus on locally-authored and published early readers and fiction.  The King James Version of the Holy Bible is the most read e-book in Africa.

Also topping the list for adult readers were reference books on ICT and English grammar.  The top Internet search term, not surprisingly, was sex, followed by biology, the Bible and love.  Terms like sexual harassment and the Qu’ran were not too far down the list.  

“People around the world want the same things: we all want to understand the world around us, we want to lead a healthy life, we want to attend good schools and get good jobs and we want to have some fun,” says David Risher, Worldreader CEO and Co-Founder. “Until now, the books that can help us achieve our dreams have been available to only a few. Worldreader is helping create a world where everyone can become a reader.”  Worldreader is open-sourcing country-by-country adult reading data, spanning nine months of 2015.  Check out this interactive map to see what else people are reading.

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