Once Kathy’s helper-husband Steve had all the Kindles out of their boxes, numbered with stickies, and charging peacefully, the time had come for Kathy to swing into action. It was time to reconnect each Kindle with the Amazon software that would allow Kathy to manage content for each of the Kindles online. Unlike you or me, whose Kindle comes pre-registered and assigned a name at Amazon, Kathy has to manually register each of the school’s Kindles individually on the “Manage My Kindle” page. This requires another serial operation: taking each of the charged and operable Kindles (remember, Kathy checks for lemons before registering each Kindle), affixing a district inventory control sticker to the back of each device (again, hard to return a defective Kindle that has a sticker on it), and then sitting down at the computer to input the serial number of each Kindle. Ugh.
Where do you get the serial number? Well, it is printed in extremely small print on the back of each device (have your magnifying glass handy if you look there), so Kathy takes the serial number off the box each Kindle came in. This is why it’s important to keep the Kindles numbered from the beginning, and also to jot the number on the box itself when you put the sticky on the Kindle. (Kathy keeps the box associated with each Kindle around in case the Kindle has to go back–apparently Amazon likes it that way.) Ugh.
OK, anyway, now it is time to put that serial number from the box into the Manage My Kindle page at the mother ship, which will enable Kathy to track her content downloads to specific devices, even if it is a broken Kindle that a student has brought back to her. Registered properly, “Kathy’s 53rd Kindle” will mean the same thing to Amazon as it does to Kathy, and as it does to the student who has it in her bookbag. It is time for Kindle to Phone Home.
If this is beginning to sound like an assembly line operation, well, that’s because it is. Sitting at her desk, Kathy calls out for one of the helpers to bring her a stack of charged and stickered Kindles. Not just any stack, but the one with the next Kindle number in her system. Why? Because when Kathy registers the next Kindle, Amazon will assign it the next number in its sequence, meaning that if Amazon knows that Kathy has 52 Kindles, the next one she registers will become “Kathy’s 53rd Kindle” by default. No time for confusion this. The conversation goes as follows:
Kathy: I’m ready for more Kindles!
Helper: What number are you on?
Helper: You have Kindle 54 or you need Kindle 54?
Kathy: I need Kindle 54.
Helper: Ok, who has Kindle 54?
Helper 2: I think its on the table by the door.
Helper: No, this says Kindle 78.
Helper 2: Maybe it’s in the server room.
Helper: I’ll look.
You get the picture. Registering the Kindle that has the number 55 on its back in the 54th position, a misstep with grave consequences if not noticed immediately, is to be avoided at all costs. So an orderly exchange of Kindles is essential at the moment of registration.
On the Manage My Kindle page, Kathy scrolls down to the “Register a new Kindle” link at the bottom of her list of Kindles and clicks it, opening a text box into which she can type the serial number from the box. Sixteen digits in, a push of the button, and that Kindle is officially connected to home base. Kindle Phoned Home. On to the next. Eighty times. Ugh.
But, you know, it was kind of fun. Kathy is so enthusiastic about the benefit to her kids that the time flies with smiles all around. In May, Kathy put out a tweet about how much the Kindles meant to the kids at her school this year:
8th grader 2 mention being first “Kindle 8th Graders” in her commencement speech tonight. Jeff Bezos you impacted ed.
Whether you meant to or not, Jeff Bezos, you impacted ed.