Cape Town ebook publisher Snapplify is over in Frankfurt at the international book fair right now, where it’s just announced a plan to put tablet-based textbooks into the most rural of schools using a networked storage drive called SnappBox.
According to the company, access to ereaders and tablets isn’t the most pressing issue facing many schools at the moment – it’s content and electronic textbooks that are still missing. The big problem is that most of the major CAPS-aligned publishers require Digital Rights Management (DRM) software to protect electronic manuscripts from being copied, and DRM needs an online connection for activation which most schools don’t yet have.
Enter SnappBox. It can be hooked up to a local WiFi network or plugged into an existing intranet and arrives with all the books a school has order pre-loaded. Children then read the books directly off of SnappBox so they don’t need to activate each copy individually. Once activated via the Snapplify Reader app, students can take their tablet, phone or other reader home and still have access to the books.
If a student at the school downloads a new book from the internet, it’s added to the SnappBox library so it doesn’t need to be downloaded again.
According to Snapplify, the SnappBox is already being used at over 24 schools including South Africa’s first paper textbook-free government school, Sunward Park. It’s also being used in more than 20 rural schools in Cofimvaba.
The cost of the box itself varies depending on the books orders: according to Snapplify’s Wesley Lynch, if a school orders enough textbooks the SnappBox will be free.
In terms of content available, Snapplify works with publishers such as Penguin Random House, Oxford University Press, Pearson, Macmillan and Wiley.