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Monday, April 7, 2014

Amazon Moving into K-12 Content

Amazon has been pursuing the higher education market with Kindle e-textbook sales and rentals. In the last year, it has also hired Raghu Murthi from Microsoft to lead its education and enterprise efforts; acquired TenMarks, a math materials ed tech company; launched Whispercast, which allows educators to distribute and manage e-books; and introduced new models of the Kindle Fire HD and HDX that support corporate-level security and encryption.

Despite that, the online retail giant seems a bit more passive when it comes to the K-12 market, according to Frank Catalano, an author and analyst of digital education and consumer technology, in his post for EdSurge. However, that could be about to change.

Amazon has been working with educators in Brazil on a Kindle app that has wirelessly provided more than 200 e-textbook titles using Whispercast. The company also claims it has distributed more than 40 million e-textbooks through its new Kindle Reading app.

It allows teachers to read, highlight, and make notes directly into textbooks even when the device is offline. The Kindle Reading app is free and can be used on iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android devices, turning practically every electronic device into a Kindle and making every user a potential Amazon customer, according to Catalano.

“It may be that Amazon isn’t disinterested in the overall K-12 education game. It may simply prefer to redefine the game’s rules and playing field,” Catalano wrote. “By focusing on global opportunities and the Kindle Reading App—irrespective of the underlying hardware—it can do what Amazon does best: sell content that, in this case, just happens to be e-textbooks.”

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