U.S. Department of State offers Amazon multi-year contract for Kindles

PAX AMERICANA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have postponed an announcement, originally expected today, of public-private partnership, Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative. According to last Friday's press teaser, this will form "an international global e-reader program that introduces aspects of U.S. society and culture directly to young people, students, and international audiences in new ways and expands English language learning opportunities worldwide." Nextgov reports that the e-readers will be stocked at overseas libraries, educational centers, reading rooms and other locations in "U.S.-friendly educational centers around the world."

The announcement follows reports that the Department of State has offered Amazon a five-year, $16.5 million contract for up to 35,000 Kindle e-readers, along with content, shipping, power adapters, "protective support," and other services. (See full details in solicitation here.) PaidContent has dug up more details about the proposal, including a "guaranteed obligation of $2.29 million" in the first year to purchase a minimum of 2,500 units, along with rough calculations of hardware and "substantial non-device costs."

You may be wondering: why not picky others--the trendy iPads, perhaps? According to the Department of State (hat tip to Geekwire), the Kindle's text-to-speech capability, long-lasting battery life, and free Wi-Fi eliminated the Nook and Sony Reader from the competition. And while the iPad meets those requirements, its "additional features are not only unnecessary, but also present unacceptable security and usability risks for the government's needs in this particular project" (page 4).

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