The Microsoft founder announced on his blog on Tuesday that everyone getting a degree in the US this spring could download a free copy of Factfulness, Rosling’s posthumous bestseller, from the site.
“Although I think everyone should read it, it has especially useful insights for anyone who’s making the leap out of college and into the next phase of life,” Gates wrote.
Rosling died of pancreatic cancer aged 68 on February 2017. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think was published in April this year.
Rosling's son Ola, who co-wrote the book with his wife Anna Rosling Rönnlund, told the Expressen newspaper that Gates had mentioned the idea to him a few weeks ago.
“But I didn’t know it was going to become reality before it actually happened,” he said. “That Bill has chosen to give this to so many young people is a sign that we’ve succeeded in what we wanted to do, which is to make the book really gripping.”
During the 2017–18 school year, US colleges and universities are expected to award 1m associate's degrees, 1.9m bachelor's degrees, 790,000 master's degrees, and 183,000 doctor's degrees, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
That makes as many as 3.9m people eligible for Gates’ gift.
The online retailer Amazon is selling Factfulness as an ebook for $11.99, so if all 3.9m take Gates up on the offer, it could set him back nearly $50m.
That seems unlikely to happen. But if it did Gates would probably see it as a good use of his Microsoft millions.
The philanthropist ended his blog post by singling out a quote from Rosling’s book.
“I hope you take Hans’s advice to heart. ‘When we have a fact-based worldview,’ he [Rosling] writes, ‘we can see that the world is not as bad as it seems—and we can see what we have to do to keep making it better.’ I agree. My wish for you at this special time is to learn to think, and act, factfully.”