Amazon 'to strike NY education e-book deal'

Amazon 'to strike NY education e-book deal'

Amazon is poised to strike a deal with New York’s Department of Education to create an “e-book marketplace” for 1,800 public schools, according to reports.

Capital New York has reported that the deal, worth $34.5m, will be one of the department’s "most expensive" contracts and will create the department’s first unified e-book storefront.

The contract has yet to be officially voted on at a panel for Educational Policy which is meeting in late August, but it is likely to be approved, according to Capital.

The deal will last for three years, with an option to renew for an additional two years.

According to the tender document, Amazon will provide a secure, web-based solution or "storefront" that will offer schools a comprehensive shopping source for e-books and other electronic content. Currently, the city’s 1,800 state schools shop for and procure e-book content individually as opposed to as a consortium. This “inhibits the department’s ability to purchase e-books through a competitive process” the department said.

Altogether 14 companies bid for the contract, including Overdrive, which offered a 35.5% net discount on titles, according to the tender document, whereas Amazon said its discount “will vary depending upon the wholesale price it negotiates with each publisher, but would always be no higher than its website price plus a mark-up for electronic content fulfillment which was not defined and covers expenses such as data conversion, storage, maintenance, uploading, distribution and customer
service.”

To determine the most cost-effective supplier, the department said it took a sample of 162 publications for which it could locate list prices and applied Overdrive’s net discount and Amazon’s price from their website.  It found that in total, Amazon’s pricing was 22.8% lower than Overdrive’s even after accounting for Amazon’s content fulfillment fee.

“We are confident that Amazon’s pricing for vendor provided content falls below Overdrive’s,” the department said.  

Amazon was also selected as the vendor because it provided “a stronger and more methodical deployment plan, a better understanding of technical interactions with DOE’s financial systems, clearly outlined roles and responsibilities in the development, deployment, and support of the Storefront, a robust catalog of content; and a better understanding of the project’s scale in general,” the document said.  

Devora Kaye, a D.O.E. spokeswoman, added: "We’ve listened closely to educators and this new marketplace will address many of the major current concerns of our schools relating to school texts: not having enough space for textbooks and primary resources, the physical decay and loss of books, not being able to easily compare options and prices, and not being able to exchange book licenses with other classrooms and schools."