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One Kindle for the Price of Thirty-Five

Government spends $16.5M on 2,500 e-readers—$16M more than retail

Wikimedia
• June 11, 2012 5:22 pm

President Obama’s Department of State selected the Amazon Kindle as the best reader to represent the United States to the world. NextGov’s Dawn Lim reports:

The State Department awarded a $16.5 million contract to Amazon to stock designated libraries and U.S.-friendly educational centers around the world with 2,500 Kindle e-Readers, procurement databases show. … The devices will aid those seeking to study English and learn about America.

The Amazon e-Readers were selected because they come with a built-in English dictionary, support foreign languages, translate text to speech, and receive information securely from a content distribution platform managed by the State Department, procurement documents stated.

Observers have raised eyebrows over the cost of the e-readers. Amazon.com sells the Kindle Touch 3G for $189.00. For 2,500 readers, the price adds up to $472,500, $16 million less than the government’s offer for the product.

Laura Hazard Owen, of PaidContent, explains why the government is paying 35 times the price of these devices:

Amazon is responsible for shipping the Kindles overseas, providing 24/7 customer service, … sharing data on how the Kindles are used to access content and pushing serialized content to the Kindles regularly. Amazon is also responsible for disabling "standard features, as requested by DoS, for the device such as individual purchasing ability."

The contract stipulates a year-long agreement, open to a four-year extension. The document itself can be accessed here.