As the World Book Day is being celebrated across the globe, ebooks and other technological advancements seem to have an upper hand where the popularity of books is concerned. A study by the UN education agency says cellphones are getting more and more people to read in countries where books are rare and illiteracy is high. More shocking is the fact that 774 million people worldwide cannot read.

World Book Day dates back to a time in the early 20th century when booksellers in Spain decided to fete author Miguel de Cervantes and April 23 was chosen to mark de Cervantes’ death on the same day. Later, the United Nations called for including other authors, such as Inca Garcilaso and Mejia Vallejo as well as William Shakespeare for celebrations.

Paris-based UNESCO says 774 million people worldwide cannot read, and most people in sub-Saharan Africa don’t own any books but cellphones are increasingly widespread. The report on Wednesday by UNESCO says a large numbers of people in such countries are reading books and stories on “rudimentary small-screen devices,” according to AP.

It says a third of study participants read stories to children from cellphones. It also says people who start reading on a mobile device go on to read more period, improving their overall literacy.
The study was conducted among 4,000 people in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.