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’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.

From the Inbox: “Amazon Corporate Accounts Program Update”

I’m on spring break this week and just happened to check my Unquiet Library email account tonight that I use with my Amazon account for the library.  I was a bit startled (although maybe I should not have been?) to discover an email with the subject, “Corporate Accounts Program Update.”  Here is the email:

Dear Customer,We’re contacting you because you are the Primary Account Manager of a corporate account at We wanted to let you know that effective May 15, 2011, will no longer offer the Corporate Accounts Program. 

This program allowed the use of identical sign-in credentials (the same e-mail address and password combination) for both personal and corporate account information.

You may continue to use this corporate account information and place orders at Amazon until May 15. To maintain access to the information (payment methods, shipping addresses, and order history) on the corporate account and continue placing orders at after May 15, a new e-mail address and password is required.

You can read more about this change and establish a new e-mail address and password for the corporate account information using the link below:

We appreciate your business. Thank you for shopping at

The Corporate Accounts Team

Please click on the below link to create a new e-mail address and password for the corporate account information:

After establishing a new e-mail address and password for the corporate account information, you will no longer need to select an account upon checkout. When shopping at, just sign in to either account to access that account’s information.

To support the unique and specific purchasing needs of business, school, and library customers, Amazon will continue to offer the Corporate Credit Line, order history reports, and dedicated Customer Service.

If you have questions or require further assistance, you may contact our Corporate Accounts Customer Service team directly. Please click here and sign in with the e-mail address and password associated with the corporate account. From the footer of the resulting page, there is an option to Contact Us. This interface will connect you directly.

Effective May 15, 2011, a distinct e-mail address and password (sign-in) is required for the personal and corporate account information. If you do not create a new sign-in by May 15, 2011, the current e-mail address and password you are using will default to provide access to only the personal account information (including payment methods, shipping addresses, and order history).


Now as if I don’t have enough to worry about at any given moment, I’m now wondering what will happen once I am forced to associate the email address (one that I have specifically for The Unquiet Library) with the corporate or “personal” (which in this case, is still school, but it is the side of the library Amazon account I use for purchasing ebooks with gift cards).  Until now, you could use one email for your corporate and “personal” (in this case, “school”) account. Now that email has to be associated with one or the other. So here’s now what I’m now wondering:

1.  What happens if I associate the email with the corporate (which we only used to buy the Kindles and the covers)? Will I lose all my records with my “personal”/ (again, school) account that I used to buy the eBooks?

2.  How will I access all my records of my ebook purchases if that email is no longer associated with that side of my account?  Access to these records is extremely important for my library because of purchasing rules in my district.

3.  It sounds like the option to use purchase orders will still be in place for businesses/libraries/schools that already have a corporate account, but will new customers be able to get a corporate account for this purpose?  I’m not sure if I am missing something in the initial email from Amazon that clarifies that question or if the wording/language is as ambiguous as I think it is.

For those of you who work in libraries and have a corporate account, what concerns (if any) do you have about this news?

New ALA Learning Post: “Documenting and Sharing Your eReader Program Practices”

Documenting and Sharing Your eReader Program Practices via kwout

Check out my new post at ALA Learning! In this post, I outline my approach to sharing our library’s eReader program practices and why sharing those practices matters:

Because we are all pioneering and forging this brave new world of content delivery, it is important we share our practices with our eReader and/or eBook programs–what is working, what is not—with others.  The act of sharing our ideas, materials, and practices can be empowering for those who are just starting an eReader or eBook program while helping us to be more purposeful in our own programs.

Kindle Program Update and FAQs, March 2011

We are nearly four months into our Kindle circulation program here at The Unquiet Library, and I’m delighted to report that so far, the program is a success.  At this time, we are circulating 10 Kindle devices and have purchased and/or been gifted 120 eBook titles.  I’d like to briefly share what is working well, challenges we’ve encountered, and some commonly asked FAQs I receive from librarians and teachers.

What Is Working Well/What Students Like/Celebrations

  • With the exception of one student (who identified herself as a non-reader and who tried the Kindle at her mother’s urging), every participant in the Kindle program has expressed extreme satisfaction with the Kindle reading experience.
  • Students are thrilled that we purchase the books they want; the personalized reading experience is very important to our readers.
  • Students like they can make adjustments to the page views/font size while reading.
  • Students like the convenience and ease of reading on the Kindle.
  • Students have been consistent and diligent in returning the Kindles on time within the one week circulation period.
  • Most students have requested to use the Kindle again.

Hiccups/Challenges/Suggestions from Students

  • We have discovered we need to keep the wireless turned off on the Kindles even when they are not in use because the battery drains rapidly trying to either find the 3G signal or to connect to the wireless network.
  • Students all indicated they wished the Kindle was backlit and/or for us to purchase reading lights for nighttime reading.
  • A few students have had difficulty remembering to return all Kindle accessories (power supply, cables); most return the missing item(s) within a day.   Now that we have identified the source of the battery drain issue, we are now circulating the Kindles without the power supply unless the student specifically requests.
  • Students would like a loan period longer than one week; as we acquire more eReader devices, we plan to extend the loan period to two weeks in 2011-12.

FAQs from Librarians and Teachers

1. For each Kindle eBook you purchase from Amazon, how many devices may you load the eBook?
Six (6)

2. If you want to buy more than one copy of a Kindle eBook, how do you go about doing so?
At this time, we purchase books based on student requests and for each book we buy, we load them on one of the two sets of Kindles (1-6 or 7-10); we approach loading the ebooks in this manner for ease of record-keeping and distributing the books electronically to the Kindles.  We have not had a situation in which we needed more than one copy of a book; however, you would need an additional account(s) attached to unique emails to do so.

3.  What titles are students requesting?

While most requests have been contemporary YA and adult fiction, we have had requests for nonfiction as well as classic literature or nonfiction students are reading for academic courses.   Students can request up to 10 titles at a time; we provide them a book/author request form when they get our acceptable use form (available for you to use and adapt as needed on our Kindle Guide).

4.  Why did you choose to start with Kindle?

Simply, this was the format I had used the most and felt most comfortable with as an affordable entry point into the eBook/eReader market.  We do plan to add Nooks; we are also exploring options for eBook delivery to non-Kindle devices from other vendors although at this time, I’ve not found a service that meets the reading needs of our users and/or received sufficient information.

5.  How are you cataloging your Kindle eBooks?

The process of dealing with the eBooks had been a process of trial and error.  In a nutshell, we are not cataloging the Kindle eBooks at this time through the Destiny OPAC for two reasons.  One wrinkle is that we do not have rights to edit MARC records, which means we can’t update which books are loaded on individual Kindle eReaders.  Secondly, we found that when we did catalog the Kindle eBooks, it was somewhat confusing for patrons as well as us, the library staff, to distinguish which copy (print or Kindle edition) was available at first glance, particularly when trying to place a hold for a student because we do not actually check out the Kindle eBooks through Destiny.

6.  How do you purchase your Kindles and eBooks? What methods of payment do you use?

We set up a corporate account with Amazon to purchase the Kindle devices themselves with purchase orders; instructions and information on this process are available here.  It took about 1-2 weeks after we had submitted our application online for us to hear back from Amazon by phone to get the approval for our corporate account. You can register as many Kindle devices to your Amazon account as you like.

We do not have a school credit card or purchasing card; we use gift cards for purchasing the eBooks.  We have been using AMEX gift cards, but we just discovered our local CVS carries Amazon gift cards, so we plan to explore that method of payment.

7.  Can you purchase ebooks for the Kindle from someone other than Amazon at this time?

Legally, no.

8.   Is there a way to “lock” the Kindle account so that students cannot purchase books or download items?

At this time and to my knowledge, no; there is no password protect option at this time.  Only if you deregistered the device from your account would it become completely separated from your Kindle account information; by doing this, though, you’d have to reregister to deliver more content to the device.  We build into our AU policy that students will not download any books, period—we feel the personalized reading requests have helped us support this policy.

9.  What covers do you recommend?

We initially purchased this model from Amazon (which is currently out of stock); initially, we thought the cover was to blame for some freezing students were experiencing because other customers had reported freezing issues seemingly related to the covers; however, we have not had any freezing reported in the last month, so we now think perhaps those errors may have been user related or possibly related to the Kindle searching for wireless connectivity.

We are now looking at covers from a variety of vendors that include the reading lights.

10.  Any other advice you would offer?

I think this post from Bertha Gutsche at ALA Learning offers some excellent advice for anyone considering implementing eBooks or eReaders into your collection.   I also recommend trying out the devices you’re thinking of circulating—take some time to go to your local store and play with them and test the features firsthand—some hands-on experience will give you a much better context for conceptualizing how your learners/patrons might use the device and how/where the devices fit into your library collection/program as an access point for learning.

Other Suggested Readings/Resources: