How much cheaper? Even considering the probability of an iPad Mini starting at $250 - Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire and $119 Paperwhite book readers could be very attractive to school systems in these economic times. Amazon doesn't release actual sales figures for its products, but recently said that its Kindle Fire makes up 22% of the U.S. tablet market.

Amazon has just announced a big part of its masterplan to sway school systems towards the company's products. It's a free online tool that allows schools and businesses to centrally manage Kindle products and, more importantly, wirelessly distribute Kindle content, PDF files and even memos within their organizations. Basically, it allows educators to remotely control how their group's Kindles will be used. For instance, limiting Internet access and blocking other possible distractions such as Facebook ( FB) and Twitter.

Of course, none of this might be appealing to school systems if Amazon didn't also stock electronic versions of needed textbooks. At the moment, Amazon carries more than 200,000 educational titles. That fact could be helpful in selling combination hardware/textbook deals to education boards.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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