Why We Won’t Purchase More Kindles at The Unquiet Library
We’re back in The Unquiet Library this week as preplanning has begun, and I’ve been energized, excited (and a little happily exhausted) by the collaborative planning sessions I’ve been engaging in with several of our teachers as we’re planning some new units of study and lines of inquiry with students that will tie into content area standards as well as library program goals, themes, and targeted skills/processes for learning (coming on the blog this week!). Because some of these conversations began back in June at the end of the year, I spent the summer exploring options for expanding our eReader and eBook program (which I’ll also be blogging later this week). I’ll elaborate in more detail soon why we are going to go with the new Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch for our “go to” device to integrate into instructional units of study as well as a medium for digital recreational reading, but an email I received last Thursday from Amazon Kindle Education sealed my decision.
In the email, Amazon Kindle Education wrote:
We discovered the FAQ on your Facebook post [my note: they actually discovered the post from our LibGuides page through our library’s Facebook page] and wanted you to either update the information to be in line with Amazon’s End User License Agreement with the attached setup information. Or to remove the information on registering 6 devices per account to share digital content.
The email also pointed me to the Amazon End User License (updated in February well after we began our Kindle program and which was never brought to my attention in subsequent phone/email conversations with Amazon Kindle Education in June 2011). The email included a PDF attachment of a draft “Kindle Education: Setup Guide” (which reflects a real lack of an understanding of the needs of K12 schools and libraries) and then concluded with this paragraph:
Amazon recommends schools register each Kindle to a single account. If you are looking for a library solution, we are working to include Kindle books in Overdrive.com’s offering to libraries before the end of the year.
I emailed Amazon Kindle Education to make sure that I understood:
1. They now require a separate email for each device, and subsequently, for managing ebook content which is now 1:1 for K12. I immediately thought of colleagues who have much larger collections of Kindle devices and Kindle books and felt astonished that Amazon could be so ignorant (or indifferent?) of how ridiculously impractical this mandate will make it for librarians to manage the those devices and content.
2. The 1:1 rule will now be enforced for K12 and school libraries, yet the only backend management tool being offered to us is to purchase a subscription to Overdrive, which is financially impossible for most school libraries, and for my colleagues who work in elementary and some middle school settings, not a feasible solution in terms of ease of accessibility for younger readers or a selection of interactive ebooks that are more developmentally appropriate for younger learners. I don’t have a problem with the 1:1 aspect, but I do have a problem with Amazon not providing alternatives to help libraries and schools work within the confines of the licensing agreement that is now apparently being enforced (I was told via phone that in our case, they were responding to a concern shared by a publisher who apparently saw our LibGuides Kindle pages).
In a phone conversation with my Amazon Kindle Education rep Monday, the new terms of agreement were confirmed. While the rep stated that Amazon is working on some type of backend management tool/system, it will not be available for several months, and I got the impression it won’t be comparable to what Barnes and Noble is now offering to K12 schools/libraries. I had already planned to go with the Nook Simple Touch for 2011-12 (again, I’ll blog why later this week), but nonetheless, it was disappointing to walk away from this series of conversations feeling as though Amazon does not seem to value the needs of the K12 market and is not being terribly responsive to our needs as institutional consumers. While we will continue to utilize our existing fleet of ten Kindles, we certainly will not invest any additional monies in the devices or ebook content under the current limitations that really will not work for our environment.
I share this information not to “bash” a vendor, but to help colleagues have as much information as possible as they prepare to make decisions about devices and providers of ebook content in the upcoming school year. I’ll have a post up later this week about the options we’re exploring and how we feel they will meet the needs of our students and teachers.