Archive for the ‘Whispercast’ Category

Whispercast rules the schools!

April 30, 2015

Whispercast rules the schools!

When I first wrote about Amazon’s Whispercast on October 17, 2012

Amazon revolutionizes mass distribution with Whispercast

I said

“This is the kind of big scale, forward thinking concept that Amazon does well…”

Well, I’m not always right 😉 but according to this

Amazon press release

many learning institutions have adopted this Enterprise management system for Kindle books…honestly, for under three years, I would deem this a massive success.

A couple of stats in the press release:

  • 130 of the 250 largest US school districts are using Whispercast
  • 2,400 higher education organizations use it…including 24 of the 30 largest

That is great market penetration! It’s entirely possible that smaller institutions may not be a good fit for this, so I’m impressed that so many of the large ones are using it.

They’ve also upgraded it to Whispercast 3.0. According to the press release, new features include:

  • Tiered Administration and Group Management – Whispercast administrators now have more control to easily setup organizational hierarchies and permissions, enabling scalable, centralized or delegated control—as well as organize into structures that make the most sense, whether classes, grades, groups, or other.
  • Digital Transition Services – Amazon will now offer Digital Transition Services tailored for K-12 and higher education organizations with named service representatives to assist with onboarding and implementations at-scale, based on best practices.
  • Easier-to-Use Interface – The updated design includes a new step-by-step setup wizard, making it possible for educators to create groups, add and move users, procure digital content and distribute to their organization, without requiring technology training.
  • New Purchasing Options – Whispercast is expanding the payment methods accepted to procure digital content with purchase orders and purchase cards, in addition to credit and gift cards.

Purchase orders are a big deal for this, and gift cards may create some interesting opportunities for student organizations and alumni to contribute.

While this is not a solution for families and other non-Enterprise users, it’s clearly working well for organizations.

I don’t know what kind of income generator it might be for Amazon, but being used by school districts is always a good they are notably not agile. Once you are in, it’s a good bet you’ll stay there, because it is hard for them to change something.

I’ve always thought that Apple survived its early days in part because it was widely adopted by universities (through active effort on Apple’s part).

At the time, local government institutions didn’t really do their own computing all that much: they would get the local university to do it.

So, the court system might have Apples to be compatible with the university.

That, in turn, meant that lawyers and such needed Apples to be compatible with the court system.

Apple obviously got way beyond all that, and became a beloved consumer brand.

In some ways, Amazon is not just the “Everything Store”…it’s the “Everything Strategy”. 😉 They find a good market and go after it.

That’s something Disney has famously done. They’ve found other attractions which are successful, and done their own version. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, for example, is a Disney waterpark…to compete with other waterparks near Disneyworld.

For some people, it wins because it is Disney.

For many people, something wins because it is Amazon.

Angie’s List works?

Amazon recently introduced

Amazon Home Services (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Would I rather book somebody through Amazon, using my regular Amazon payment options?

You betcha!

Do I want Amazon’s “Happiness Guarantee”?

You know it!

Amazon wants to keep me as a “happy customer” (I’ve said before, that’s their most important product). I feel like they are going to make very sure this works before they put it out there.

No, they don’t always do that with every Kindle/Fire feature…but for a service like this? I think it was carefully tested.

We’ll see if it succeeds like Whispercast has…but I love it when Amazon has big ideas, and I love it even more when they work. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



Whispercast: $50 service charge for each book?

August 2, 2013

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:

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 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.

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