New free online tool allows organizations to manage a "fleet of Kindles" and wirelessly distribute Kindle books, documents and apps.
It may still be years before digital books replace paper ones in schools, but Amazon is laying the groundwork for the transition with Whispercast for Kindle, a free "scalable" online tool for "deploying Kindle devices and Kindle content." With Whispercast Amazon is also targeting businesses administrators who want to manage and share Kindle books and documents within their organizations.
The program has quietly been tested for the last several months with a number of organizations. Using the tool, schools and companies can either distribute Kindle hardware to students or employees or have them them "bring their own" devices and opt-in to the program.
Naturally, Whispercast works with all Kindle e-readers and tablets, including the new $69 Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, and new Kindle Fires, but it supports any device running the Kindle app, opening it up to PCs, iOS devices and Android smartphones and tablets.
"This is a way for schools and enterprises to manage a large fleet of Kindle devices," said Jay Marine, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "But at the same time it's not constrained to our own devices. It really helps solve how schools distribute digital textbooks and make it so kids don't have to carry around all those heavy books. And schools and organizations can easily push out other content, including apps in the future, to users who opt-in."
Here's a quick rundown of the features Amazon's highlighting in Whispercast:
Currently, Amazon doesn't offer up any special features on its Kindles for book clubs. When asked whether such a feature was forthcoming and how Whispercast might fit into it (book clubs weren't highlighted in the press release), Marine wouldn't comment, but from the overall gist of his remarks it seemed like Whispercast could be tailored to book clubs in the future.