Kindle Phone Home: Getting 80 Kindles Ready for Kids, Part 2

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.

kathy_serial_number_boxWhere 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?

Kathy: 54.

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.

Onkathy_registers_kindle 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.

  10 comments for “Kindle Phone Home: Getting 80 Kindles Ready for Kids, Part 2

  1. Kathy McLaughlin
    March 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hi, Kathy

    I’ve looked at your Acceptable Use Form and would love permission to adapt it for use for e-readers at Taft Union High School.

  2. willd
    November 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Hi Mark, there are a number of teachers and librarians who have shared their experiences on the EduKindle Ning at If you search around a bit there, you will find many ideas and practices addressing the issues you mention. –Will

  3. November 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I’m also interested in hearing more about next steps — specifically, about how to purchase books (with a personal credit card?), how to share books to the 80 Kindles (do you have to purchase 13+ copies of the book and share them one by one?), and how to prevent students from purchasing books themselves. Thank you very much for these two articles!

  4. willd
    October 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

    The Kindle e-book lending program is run through Overdrive, and requires a library to have an Overdrive account to participate.

  5. mary barber
    October 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    This is very helpful but can you continue to tell us how you got the books purchased? I am not sure how to proceed with this process for 80 kindles in our school district.

  6. January 30, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Make sure you buy a barcode reader, or get an app on your smartphone or for your webcam to read the barcodes for the serial numbers.

    What I want is a way to automatically add wifi passwords, Apple has an enterprise toolkit to upload settings to multiple devices.

  7. Susan Timmons
    November 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    You can also always get your serial number by clicking on Menu – Settings – Device Info. on your kindle…just in case it gets separated from the box or covered with a sticker. You can also type your school’s address and/or library contact information in Menu – Settings – Persona Info…just in case it gets lost. Also, as a case for the latest generation kindle, I much preferred the one we bought direct from JavoEdge ( to the M-edge one we bought from Amazon. They’re about the same price, and while the JavoEdge took a few days longer to ship from Oregon, it was much better quality.

  8. August 17, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Amazing stuff! I’m looking forward to possible future blog entries, for e.g., the logistics with stuffing books (free or otherwise) given the limitations of sharing (6 Kindles per account name?). And maybe something on what books to select for the kids (they should choose but with that comes complexities?)

  9. July 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you. I will be ordering 10 within the next two weeks for a pilot program in our school. I’ll definitely be sure to use your numbering/sticky note method…another question, did you buy watertight covers for your Kindles. I know wetness would be an issue for those students who so often return waterlogged books….If so, where did you buy it and how much was it?

  10. Kelly Ahlfeld
    July 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Great piece about the nitty gritty! Any insight as to billing options for schools? Seems clunky to us, requiring someone’s credit card, but since we have just started looking into it, wondered if there were other options.

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