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TextCafe: Incorporating Digital Text in the Work to Build #literacyequity

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

At the end of each month, the Coalition for Literacy Equity is proud to shine the spotlight on guest bloggers. These writers will share topics that are of pressing importance to them, all while connecting to the Coalition’s larger mission. We are thrilled to kick off with Martin Hensel, the creator of TextCafe. TextCafe helps publishers sell more books by using instant preview samples.

I first got involved in digital publishing because it promised to make content available to everyone. Technology helped to create a level playing field for everyone to access any kind of information instantly. I’m eager to help literacy programs - like those in the CLE network - use digital publishing to inexpensively provide books to millions of people.

Because smartphones have become ubiquitous, every possible literacy client has access to news, video, and books. My aim is to help literacy programs - who often remain focused on physical books - to embrace the possibilities with digital libraries.

Digital literacy programs based on public domain books are infinitely scalable at a very low cost. These books are great reads and engage people in the classic stories that have shaped our culture, politics, and institutions.

TextCafe has nearly 6,000 public domain titles in our digital library, aptly called CLASSICS TO GO. Each book has a custom-designed cover with a clean, accurate conversion and no extraneous content or advertising. We add 500 new titles each year.

Providing literacy clients and their families with access to this collection instantly solves the book desert problem, and a literacy culture leads to developing better skills and improving chances in the workplace.

Traditional ebook lending systems require the registration of each person to create a username and password. They force each user to install an app on their phone and restrict the number of checkouts for each book.

Our literacy library system has no registration. No app is required and there are no restrictions on the books being read on any mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

Each literacy program gets a unique URL for their custom library that they can provide to anyone they want. We count the number of unique devices accessing each library to bill for our services.

I encourage all literacy advocates - and the Coalition members - to explore TextCafe. Your Literacy Library can be customized to include just the books you want, your logo, and other information. Please email me to get answers to your questions.

Martin Hensel created TextCafe in 2013 to help publishers sell more books using instant preview samples. Previously he founded Texterity which provided digital editions for more than 2000 magazines and was an early ebook producer. TextCafe is a marketing technology company focused on optimizing access to books and offering a stellar reading experience on any device, as part of our overall mission to empower publishers and authors to sell and share books directly with readers.

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