In 1929, Gujarat Vidyapidth published its first edition of સાર્થ ગૂજરાતી જોડણીકોશ, the Gujarati comprehensive dictionary. In the preface, Gandhiji wrote, “હવે પછી કોઈને સ્વેચ્છાએ જોડણી કરવાનોઅધિકાર નથી”. This was the beginning of a new epoch for Gujarati.
In the early eighteen century, people on the Indian subcontinent spoke many more dialects than are spoken today. Most dialects, including Gujarati, did not qualify as “language” because they lacked definitive dictionary and formal grammar. At that time, written materials consisted only of manuscripts. With the introduction of the printing press, publishers of Gujarati books offered books in quantities never imaginable before. This formalized Gujarati as a one of the official languages of India, in a time where many other dialects did not make the technological transition and thus are now endangered or even extinct.
Now, in the 21st century, we are experiencing another such tectonic shift, a move from paper book to digital. We feel that any language that does not make this transition will be in danger of becoming extinct by 2050. However, communities that choose to participate in this digital revolution are at a great advantage, as ubiquitous accessibility becomes common.
Every electronic device – from mobile phones to automobiles — will hold literature in the digital form and it will be accessible to people worldwide.
“To preserve Gujarati literature and increase its audience through digitization.”
In the Western world, a similar successful effort, Project Gutenberg, created over 40,000 free books in digital format and was instrumental in making e-Book reader ubiquitous. Instantly, thousands of books from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie became available to eBook readers at no charge. Over 1,000 million downloads of free ebooks have already occurred. Once Gujarati books are digital, they will be instantly available on eBook readers and readable via Kindle, iPad, Android tablets and smart phones. In the digital form they will be fully searchable with any search engine.
In a very short time, Ekatra picked up pace and involved numerous volunteers from across the world:
- • Registered Ekatra Foundation as US not-for-profit organization
- • Designed and test creation of ebook using both soft copy and physical books.
- • Became the first entity to offer true digital Gujarati ebooks for free on the web, Kindle, iPad, Android tablets, Android smart phones, iPhone and regular computers.
- • Built ebook conversion process. Ekatra created/obtained tools to convert proprietary fonts into Unicode, obtained access to Gujarati OCR, established standard ePUB template and created ePUB formatting guide to achieve efficient repeatable scalable process.
- • Designed Ekatra Website and offer first 25 free books. Converted total of 50 books.
- • Formed literary committee and selected 86 books for conversion. Received permission to convert 20 books.
- • Received permission to offer over 50 books published by Lok-Milap Trust.
- • Published 3 issues of bimonthly Gujarati e-digest, સંચયન.
- •Established communication with leading Gujarati not-for-profit organizations including Gujarat Vidyapith, Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, Forbes Gujarati Sabha, Lok-Milap Trust and Gujarati branch of Wikipedia (વિકિસ્ત્રોત).
- Esablish Ekatra as the premier online Gujarati literature digital library.
- Offer 1,000 free ebooks on Ekatra’s website.
- Offer the same on leading bookstores including Amazon, iBookstore, smashword.com and Flipkart.
- Publish 6 issues of સંચયન. Create awareness of the available Gujarati literary resources.
- Expand volunteer organization to support book conversion and proof reading tasks.
- Collaborate and share knowledge about digital books with other non-for-profit so they can also offer free digital books.
While our volunteers are working on all fronts, we are seeking help with the following:
- • Sourcing of selected books in physical or PDF form.
- • Proofreading of OCR content
- • Assistance in creating local Ekatra volunteer community