Amazon’s $30M NYC Contract the Next Step in Education Takeover
This week Amazon won a contract to provide digital textbooks and other educational materials to the New York City school district. It signifies a major milestone in Amazon’s strategic push into the K-12 market.
The three-year contract is worth $30 million and requires Amazon to build a custom ebook marketplace for the NYC school district, the largest school district in the country. Amazon will provide the software to distribute digital textbooks and other learning materials across NYC schools, but it will not offer the hardware on which to read them. The digital texts will be compatible with a variety of ereading devices. It’s interesting to note that Amazon’s commission on ebook sales will be below the typical 50% commission. Amazon will earn between 10% and 15% on sales to NYC schools, reports USA Today.
This is not Amazon’s first foray into the K-12 marketplace. In February Amazon announced that it began beta-testing an Open Educational Resources (OER) platform called Amazon Inspire, which provides free materials to educators and students. This free service, coupled with the relatively inexpensive contract with NYC schools, suggests that Amazon is attempting gain a foothold in the K-12 market much like it did trade book world -- by emphasizing incredibly low prices and high-quality service.
In a prescient blog post last month, Book Business contributor Neal Goff wrote that with the NYC contract and the launch of Amazon Inspire, the ecommerce giant will soon be able to challenge rivals Apple and Google in the K-12 education market. Goff wrote, “If Amazon Inspire becomes the destination of choice for educators and students seeking products for classroom use, it will help the company make up much of the ground it has lost to Apple and Google in the K-12 space — and it will further support Jeff Bezos’s strategy to make Amazon the place to go to find, well, everything.”
Mike Shatzkin echoed this sentiment in an interview with USA Today. Shatzkin said that Amazon’s NYC contract “could be the first of hundreds of such deals for Amazon.”
What do you think? Will Amazon become a major player in the K-12 education space? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.