Dear Mr. Bezos:
I’m writing you in the hope that you can solve a problem. As an avid consumer of ebooks, I’ve always had great respect for the Kindle. Your vision—and your hardware—has made a tremendous cultural impact in promoting reading. However, I’m unable to purchase Kindles for my school library.
It’s a serious dilemma. To the general public—including most teachers and school administrators—“ebook” means “bestseller fiction from authors I love,” and “ebook reader” refers to a Kindle product. I’ve spent some time explaining to users that there are alternative ebook readers—and most worked better for schools and libraries. Then, you released the holy grail of ebook features for education: Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading.
Synchronized highlighting and audio have been available via other technology for readers with special needs. I’ve been buying ebooks with synced highlighting and voice-actor narration for years. Yet those books are built with Flash and tend to be titles issued by smaller independent publishers.
Enter Immersion Reading. Bestseller fiction? Check. Big name authors? Check. Portable technology? Check. Usable in schools? Nope.
Worse, the contracts state that Amazon reserves the right to terminate, without warning, a school’s account, delete its content, and render hardware unusable.
I’ve called the Kindle for Education support team. They tell me not to worry—Amazon supports our use of the content in schools and libraries. Yet there’s a remarkable reluctance to put those reassurances in writing. Then again, this same support team says that you can buy one copy of a book and deploy it on multiple Kindle devices simultaneously to multiple students.
Mr. Bezos, does Amazon fully and legally support the use of Kindle hardware and content in schools? Is a school granted legal license to loan out Kindle hardware and Kindle content (including Audible content for Immersion Reading) to students through Whispercast? Will you provide a clear answer in writing so we can move forward with the holy grail of ebook technology?
Thank you for your time,