Bookshare India Partnerships Build India and Worldwide Collections

Scholastic India and Renowned Author, Dr. Kiran Bedi Contribute Books;

Hundreds of Hindi and Tamil Titles Soon to Be Available in Accessible Formats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Ann Harrison, Benetech - 415-637-5262, ann.h@benetech.org
Valerie C. Chernek, Bookshare - 410-871-2670, valerie.c@bookshare.org

December 3, 2009, Palo Alto, CA – On World Disability Day, Bookshare India, an international extension of Bookshare, announced a partnership with Scholastic India and leading Indian publishers, authors and organizations to provide hundreds of copyrighted ebooks to individuals who cannot read standard print.  Bookshare is the world’s largest online accessible library for individuals who are blind, have low vision, a physical disability or a severe learning disability that affects reading.

Books contributed to the Bookshare India collection include educational and children’s books from Scholastic India and 10 bestselling titles from social activist and retired IPS officer, Kiran Bedi.  Recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2004, Dr. Bedi was voted one of the most admired women in India in 2002.  Scholastic India works closely with teachers, parents and students to encourage reading and to promote the highest quality of reading and educational materials in English. Scholastic India will provide digital versions to Bookshare in both English and Hindi.  In 2010, Bookshare India will also convert contributed books into digital formats and offer them in the Indian languages of Hindi and Tamil.

"We gratefully thank Scholastic India, Dr. Bedi and all of the collaborating publishers, authors and organizations for granting Bookshare worldwide digital rights to their renowned works,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the nonprofit organization that operates Bookshare.  “These partnerships build our collection of high quality ebooks for qualified individuals with disabilities to learn more about our shared world."

Today, Bookshare has signed agreements with many publishers and authors who have come forward to share their literary works with individuals with print disabilities.  These organizations and publishers include Upkaar Publications that publishes Pratiyogita Darpan monthly magazines, Samanya Gyan Darpan and Competition Science Vision that provide access to general knowledge and science books. Upkaar also offers a collection of 1600 books for competitive exam preparation which will now be available to the print disabled community in India. In addition, Sahitya Akademi, a publisher of award-winning books and translations in more than 15 Indian languages has contributed books, along with Seasons Publishing and Westland Publications in South India.  Archana and Karthik Meiyappan, owners of Seasons Publishing, were the first publishers to grant Bookshare India digital rights.  Bookshare India also signed an agreement with Maharashtra Dyslexic Association to reach out to students with dyslexia in Mumbai.

In 2008, the WORTH TRUST Rehabilitation Centre for Physically Challenged, a scanning and proofreading operation in Chennai that employs people with physical disabilities, partnered with Bookshare India to digitize books for the visually impaired.  This partnership demonstrates the power of social and commercial enterprises working together to benefit persons with disabilities around the globe.

Through a partnership with the DAISY Forum of India, Bookshare India members will also receive access to thousands of DAISY audio CDs found on the DAISY Forum website.  DAISY files (Digital Accessible Information System) are versatile electronic files that allow easy navigation and manipulation of text and audio in digital books.

Bookshare serves qualified members in 23 countries with copyrighted and freely distributable ebooks. It maintains the highest level of integrity in its qualification processes and global permission agreements for book contributions.  Through a proprietary Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology system, Bookshare protects publishers’ copyrights and guards against illegal book sharing.  The Bookshare DRM technology fingerprints and maintains a record of every book downloaded to identify potential misuse and copyright infringement. Bookshare India offers memberships for a nominal fee.  School systems, colleges, universities, government or non-government entities, publishers or authors can learn more about Bookshare India and the international collection.  The international collection contains accessible books from Argentina, Canada, United Kingdom, United States and India and includes books written in Spanish, French, and German.  Bookshare members can download fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, reference books, and magazines, plus two software applications that read digital content.

About Bookshare

Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities.  Through its technology initiatives and partnerships, Bookshare seeks to raise the floor on accessibility issues so that individuals with print disabilities around the world have the same ease of access to print materials as people without disabilities. Bookshare is an initiative of Benetech, www.benetech.org, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit organization that creates sustainable technology to solve pressing social needs.  Key supporters of Bookshare International include the Bernard A. Newcomb Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Lavelle Fund for the Blind.  U.S. and international publishers interested in contributing copyrighted books to the Bookshare library for the benefit of individuals with disabilities should contact, Robin Seaman, Bookshare Publisher Liaison.