State withdraws Amazon Kindle contract

Mark Lennihan/AP file photo

Department intends to conduct additional market research on program.

The State Department has withdrawn a contract to distribute Amazon Kindles at its embassies worldwide.

In an update posted on FedBizOpps, the federal government announced it has withdrawn the $16.5 million contract with Amazon. The program would have distributed up to 35,000 Kindle Touches loaded with books and other applications as part of the State Department’s American Spaces program.

“The Department of State intends to conduct additional market research and re-examine its requirements for this program,” the update said.

Nextgov originally broke the story regarding the contracts in June. Department officials said at that time that they would not pay a premium for the devices. “State has not and will not spend even a penny more than retail prices,” spokesman Philippe Reines told Nextgov.

American Spaces currently has more than 800 sites in 126 countries around the world that have educational materials and cultural items for visitors. It was created to broaden U.S. cultural influence in the countries where it operates. The program has descended from a Cold War-era initiative to promote American cultural ideas to help avert the spread of communism. The Kindle order was meant to further that purpose by providing a device with a large library of books and applications.