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The US State Department’s e-reader of choice? The Kindle

Amazon has good reason to feel proud of its Kindle line today; the US State Department has signed a no-bid multi-year contract with the company to purchase $16.5 million’s worth of Kindle Touches, preloaded with 50 titles, it’s been revealed. Can 16.5 million US dollars be that wrong…?

The five page document explaining the reasons behind the purchase – entitled the “Justification and Approval for Other Than Full And Open Competition” – reveals that the State Department “has an ongoing, repetitive requirement for e-Readers and content meeting certain key specifications, including an immediate need for approximately 2,500 e-Readers and 50 titles of content,” before going on to list the specifications that the chosen devices must fulfill in order to qualify (Amongst the specifications: Adjustable font size, international power adapters, the ability to disable certain features as decided upon by the State Department and a 24/7 help desk available at a moment’s notice). As a result, the report adds, “the DoS has identified the Amazon Kindle as the only e-Reader on the market that meets the Government’s needs, and Amazon as the only company possessing the essential capabilities required by the Government.”

Expect that last line to end up on an advertisement somewhere before too long.

If you’re wondering why the Kindle was chosen over Apple’s iPad, there’s a very definite reasoning at play: the Justification document claims that the device’s “additional features are not only unnecessary, but also present unacceptable security and usability risks for the government’s needs in this particular project.” The report continues, “Critically, the Apple iPad falls short on two requirements: the centrally managed platform for registration and content delivery, and battery life.”

The length of the deal is said to be four years on top of the initial base order, with Amazon responsible for shipping the order overseas. The devices will be part of an overseas language education program, but sadly neither Amazon nor the State Department has shared what 50 books have been chosen to help teach people english… Can we hope that there’s at least one of the 50 Shades of Grey books in there…?