Whispercast: $50 service charge for each book?

Whispercast: $50 service charge for each book?

I’ve been writing for years now about the hope (and belief) that Amazon will work out some kind of user profiles within an account.

In other words, a family has an account. A parent has access to some books, a child has access to others.

That can be done now (see my post, Parental controls and your Kindle), but it doesn’t have the sort of simplicity many people would like to see with different archives available, and knowing which books have been sent to which devices.

When Amazon introduced Whispercast

Amazon revolutionizes mass distribution with Whispercast

an enterprise type account for Kindles, it seemed like the answer might be here.

It allows you to put 100 (or more) Kindles on an account, and divide them into groups. You can buy the book* once, and say it should be sent to everybody in one particular group…that’s simple.


I recently wanted to confirm something with them, and, well, the information is not good.

Typically, when you buy a book on a regular account, you can have it on up to six devices registered to your account at a time (and there is no limit to the number of devices you can have registered to an account).

That’s the default number of “simultaneous device licenses” (SDLs): unless it says otherwise on a book’s Amazon product page, you get six SDLs for one price.

How many do you get under Whispercast?



Simply, that means that my investigating Whispercast for my own use doesn’t make any sense…and I don’t see it making sense for most large organizations.

Let’s say I buy a book for $9.99 on a regular account. Six of us on the account can read it at the same time. That’s about $1.66 per person.

Buy the same $9.99 book for six users on Whispercast, and pay $59.94…about fifty dollars more (and $9.99 per person).

Have 100 employees?

You could have one Whispercast account, and pay $999.99 to put a $9.99 book on their 100 Kindles.

Alternatively, you could open 17 Amazon accounts, and pay $169.83…a savings of $830.16 for each title.

Let’s say it takes a minute to buy the book on each account…and you have a $25 an hour employee doing it (those are not best case scenario numbers, certainly). It costs you about $7.08 for that employee to save you $830.16…sounds worth it to me.

I looked online for something about companies saying they were using Whispercast….while I did find it for a school, I didn’t find it for companies at first glance.

Here are my e-mails with Whispercast Customer Service. It’s legal for me to share them, unless the other person tells you they are private (as I understand it), but I am going to excerpt them a bit (no reason for you to have the representatives’ names, for example):



“Let’s say that I have 100 Kindles owned by an organization on a Whispercast account.

I want to put the same book, priced $9.99 (and with the typical six simultaneous device licenses) on those devices, and have it be accessible to all the devices at the same time.

Is that possible, or is it only available to six of the devices at a time?

If it is available to the 100, what is the pricing on that? Would it be $166.50 (100/6 ((to account for the SDLs)) * $9.99?”


“Hello Bufo,

Whispercast is a self-service tool to help organizations manage the distribution of content to their Kindle devices and Kindle reading applications. Using Whispercast, organizations can create and register user accounts, create user groups, and can quickly purchase and distribute documents, apps, and Kindle content to their user groups.

You can learn more about Whispercast and sign up at: https://whispercast.amazon.com/

If you had 100 users in Whispercast, you would be purchasing the same book 100 times. The total of the purchase would be $999.00.

Thanks for your interest in Whispercast.”


“Just need the response to my question about Whispercast to be very clear for me. Every book purchased through Whispercast only has one simultaneous device license, even though all devices are registered to the same account? If I buy a typical $9.99 book not in Whispercast, I can have it on up to six devices on the same account at a time for that $9.99. According to the answer I received, it would cost me $9.99 per device on my account that licensed it, under Whispercast. I’m questioning that, because it makes Whispercast relatively very expensive…typically, six times more expensive than it would be to purchase it outside of Whispercast. That seems to negate any savings there would be from efficiency.”


“Hello Bufo,

Yes it is one book per Kindle. Multiple license availability is set up to be used on regular Amazon.com accounts, family accounts, to allow for a user to be able to read their content know matter where they are or what device or app they are using. Not all content has six licenses for it and licenses are based on what the publisher allows.”


I do want to compliment Amazon for having such accessible Customer Service. I was able to get this answer quickly, and get it confirmed quickly. There aren’t a lot of companies where I think that would be the case.

This is considerably disappointing about Whispercast, though.

Oh, and it is clear that the Kindle store license that we get with multiple SDLs isn’t just for one person using the book on multiple devices, but for multiple people on the same account. One of many things that makes that clear is the Kindle FreeTime app…that exists to manage multiple user profiles.

Does this mean we won’t get better account management in our personal accounts?

I still expect that to happen.

Netflix is rolling out over the couple of weeks user profiles. Our adult kid and I both use the same Netflix account (although I don’t use it very much), and I really don’t need to see what my kid has watched recently, or particularly want to see recommendations for movies in the multiple languages our kid speaks. 😉

I’ll be very interested to see that implementation. I suspect the new profiles will each have a learning curve as to what we like, but that’s fine with me. I’m generally more likely to just pick my videos myself, or from Recent Additions or Popular on Netflix, that kind of thing, which won’t change if it forgets what I’ve personally watched.

I think we’ll get there on our Kindle accounts eventually. I buy books my Significant Other would never read, and having them show up as available for download on my SO’s Kindle Fire Carousel is just an inconvenience.

If any of you are actually using Whispercast, I’d like to hear about your experience with it, positive or otherwise. You can let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

* When you “buy a book” in the Kindle store, you are actually buying a license. You own the license as much as you would own a copy of a paperbook, but it works differently. For more information, see my post, How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

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

6 Responses to “Whispercast: $50 service charge for each book?”

  1. Expat Mum Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this and explaining Whispercast and its pitfalls so clearly. We are an expat homeschooling family who just purchased Fire HDs for our three kids. I was looking at Amazon’s site to see if Whispercast would be a viable option for me to manage their Kindle content especially for our schooling but it was unclear from the information they provided. Searching the web didn’t give me much to go on either. Maybe because Whispercast is pretty new? Your research shows me that Whispercast will not be functional for us in that manner right now. I guess we’ll just stick with the functions that Parental Controls/FreeTime give us for the time being. I love Kindle too, but I do hope they create better family/home education functionality somehow at some point. Thanks again for generously sharing your findings!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thank you for writing, Expat!

      I’m so happy that this was useful for you! I thought it was an important issue to clarify. I do think we may get better account management this year, but we’ll have to wait and see…

  2. Kim Oldenburgh Says:

    Is this still true of whispercast or have they changed that? I just logged on 50 kindle fires to WC and was under the impression that if I buy one book for 4.99, I can share it to all my 50 kindles.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kim!

      I’ll have to send them an e-mail to check…I’d be surprised if it’s changed, but I’ll find out for you. You could also ask: 1-800-369-5661. If you find out, I’d appreciate you letting me know. 🙂

      • Lennon Mazonde Says:

        Hi, thanks for such a helpful article. I’m wondering if you got any response to Kim’s question? (I want to setup a digital library with say 10 kindles loaded up with a 100 titles each. From what you explained in the article, i’d have to buy a 100 books (or licenses) for each of the 10 kindles if i was using WC).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lennon!

        I haven’t looked at this in some time…I’ll try to follow up and post something.

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