A book of business: why your boss should buy you a Kindle

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first: you probably don’t need a Kindle at work.

Heck, you don’t need a Kindle at home, right?

But that doesn’t mean it can’t make things better.

I’ve heard about a couple of work situations where I thought, “Wow, a Kindle would be a great solution for that!”  I’ve also heard (although rarely) about people actually using them for work. 

So, if I can make a convincing case, and your boss will buy you a Kindle, that’s a good thing, right?  ;)

Kindles for document distribution

This seems like the most obvious application.  A Kindle is, after all, mostly for reading.  Whenever I look at a process, the first thing to determine is what are you doing now?  The next step is to look at what you would like to be doing, and the third is to figure out how to get there.

If you are giving your employees a lot of non-interactive paper, things that people just read, the Kindle can certainly help there.  The savings in paper and toner (or other ink), the ease of distribution and replacement…this is clearly a good way to get your handbooks or annual reports to people.

How does it work technically?

The first thing is to get the file into a file compatible with the Kindle, something it can read.  That’s not too hard.  Without conversion, the Kindle 2 can read text files and mobi/prc files.  Amazon will also convert a number of formats (Word, HTML, pdf) for you for free.  See this previous post for details.

One really important thing: once a personal file is converted into the Kindle format (azw), it is not keyed to a specific device.  You can e-mail the file to everybody on your team, or put it up on an a company website, and it iwll work on anybody’s Kindle.

There are two ways to get a file on your Kindle.  You can send it wirelessly, or you can connect the Kindle to a computer using an included USB cord, and put the file into the Kindle’s documents folder.

If your employees can connect to a computer to get the file, that’s easy.  You just send it to them or make it available to them.  No charge from Amazon.

However, you can also have Amazon send it wirelessly to a Kindle.  Amazon charges you for the use of the wireless.  A US customer sending a document wirelessly is charged fifteen cents a megabyte, rounded up.  If a US customer sends it to where it is retrieved using international wireless, it is ninety-nine cents a megabyte, rounded up.

That could still be really valuable, though.  You could send someone a proposal right on the spot.   One obvious question might be why you wouldn’t just use a laptop.  One advantage of a Kindle over a laptop is the long battery life.  Somebody could take a Kindle somewhere for, oh, a week, and then turn on the wireless and get the document.  I’m not saying you could do it on a houseboat on the Amazon…but it’s possible.  :)

Another advantage is the simple convenience.  You could be in a conference room, paying rapt attention to your client.  It’s kind of tacky to pull out the laptop, use their network, and download your file.  On the other hand, the Kindle is cool.  :)  Pull it out, get the material out of the air, and show it to them.  You can send pictures, not just text…might be very effective.

If you do send it wirelessly, there are some limitations.  Amazon says:

  • The file size of each attached personal document should be 50MB or less (before compression in a ZIP file).
  • The submitted e-mail should contain less than 100 attached personal documents.
  • The submitted e-mail should target less than 15 distinct Kindles.
  • Amazon on Personal Documents

    Commercial documents

    A lot of companies want people to read commericial books, those that will be under copyight.  For example, I had this book promoted to me at work: Managing Across the Generational Divide.  We’d seen a presentation on it: it’s intended to help different generations work better together.  For example, a lot of Boomers tend to think the “new millenials” are not as committed to the job as they are.  This book talks about what different groups value as motivation, how they see work, and so on.

    That’s a bit trickier.  Currently, you can only directly put Kindle books on to devices which are registered to your account.  The publisher limits the number of devices that can have the book simultaneously on your account.  To free up a license, you are supposed to deregister the device and delete the content. 

    You can give them gift certificates and let them buy them on their own accounts.  Giving that for a Kindle book can be a lot cheaper than getting them paperbooks.  For example, the book I cited above?  $15.72 in paper, $9.99 as a Kindle book.  Ten employees, you’d save about fifty dollars.

    I’ve read about somebody who planned to give Kindles to employees as a bonus.  Yes, that’s a lot of money, but some companies (no, not just banks), give those kind of bonuses.  In terms of giving them books on the Kindles…well, it might be better to do gift cards.  You could register the Kindles to your company’s account, then add books, then deregister them.  The books will stay on the Kindles.  However, I’m not quite sure how you could get a six-license book for more than six employees.  If you try to buy a book you’ve bought before, the Kindle store doesn’t let you do it.  I think, though, if you contacted Amazon Customer Service, they’d work something out so you could pay for it again for another set of licenses.

    One tip: have them authorize a company e-mail in their Manage Your Kindle pages.  That way, you can send things to their Kindles from that address (like company documents).

    Any other uses?

    I’ve used mine to take (very brief) notes during a meeting.  You just have to have a document open, and add a note.  I also use it for information about classes and meetings.  I like that a whole better than printing out a sheet of information, and then just tossing it afterwards.

    You can also use audio files on the Kindle.  If somebody makes an MP3 of a meeting, or the boss’s makes a recorded statement, you can put it into the Audible folder of the Kindle, and play it like an audiobook. 

    I could also see it being given to clients.  Again, the same idea: you could have them authorize one of your company’s e-mail addresses, so you could send them information.  Might be a nice way to send out catalogues, for example…and they can have active hyperlinks.

    So, did I convince you enough so you can convince your boss?  Maybe not…and I wouldn’t want to be you making the argument to the IRS that you needed a Kindle for your department store job.  Still, it could make work more fun…and that’s worth something!  :)

    This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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