Why not? It is an accepted practice that hardware and software vendors offer reduced pricing for educators. I mean, even Microsoft does it, and these guys are not known for leaving money on the table. So why not Amazon and why not the Kindle?
The practice is not all generosity of spirit for Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and a slew of other very wealthy technology magnates; there is a bit of self interest involved in discounting as well. The reasoning goes something like this: giving up margin on your products for a narrow segment of your business like education can be a win-win if your marketing and publicity folks are worth their salt. Not only are you embedding your technology and your brand into a very large group of organizations that, at one time or another, touch every single American alive, but you are also permitted, in doing so, to put phrases like “Microsoft Loves Teachers” and “Building America’s Future, One Mac at a Time.” And because you are still charging good money for these goods and services, while making it look like you are giving them away, the impact on the bottom line is only mildly rather than insanely lucrative as it is in your other markets.
Giving a discount to a good cause also validates the prices you are charging your other customers. Nobody expects to pay what teachers pay, so paying more seems quite reasonable. Voila! Maximum exposure to rising and future generations, good citizen awards all around, and a buttressing of your pricing power. It’s the trifecta!
So, Mr. Bezos, how about a break on the Kindle for educators who want to experiment with your remarkable device? If you think they are, as a group, too small for such consideration, just look at what they did for Apple in the past thirty or so years:
Apple’s sustained growth during the early 1980s was in great part due to its leadership in the education sector, attributed to an implementation of the LOGO Programming Language by Logo Computer Systems Inc., (LCSI), for the Apple II platform. The success of Apple and LOGO in the education environment provided Apple with a broad base of loyal users around the world. The drive into education was accentuated in California by a momentous agreement concluded between Steve Jobs and Jim Baroux of LCSI, agreeing with the donation of one Apple II and one Apple LOGO software package to each public school in the state. The arrangement, (eventually replicated in Texas), established a strong and pervasive presence for Apple in all schools throughout California, that ignited the acquisition of Apple IIs in schools across the country. The conquest of education became critical to Apple’s acceptance in the home, as parents supported children’s continued learning experience after school [emphasis mine]. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc.)
And now, with the advent of the iPad in education, Apple proposes to increase its lead by continuing its educator-friendly policies. We just got our iPad 2 through the educator section of the Apple site and, although the discount amounts to free shipping for an individual educator, there is a presence at Apple that supports and solicits educational use of its products. Now, the “Volume Purchasing Program” that Apple offers for the “apps” that drive the use of the iPad ensures that educators can access and use the iPad in the classroom without petitioning the company for a way to do so.
Amazon could tear a page from this playbook if it were truly interested in seeing the Kindle make a mark in schools around the country.