Amazon pushes into schools wants to get its Kindle e-readers and tablet computers into schools and is aiming to compete with Apple in one of its favourite markets.

Amazon told Associated Press it has been testing Kindles in recent years with hundreds of kindergartens through to 12th grade schools in the United States.

The idea will be to sell its hardware at bulk discounts and help them buy and distribute e-books to students.

Yesterday the company unveiled Whispercast, which is a service that lets schools manage fleets of Kindle devices from one online location.

It means that schools can set up user accounts for each student and arrange them into one or more groups, such as a specific class or grade level. They can also stop kids using them to to waste time looking at Facebook and web browsing.

Amazon has a cunning plan to get Kindles into as many paws as possible. The idea is that customers will then buy e-books and other content such as apps, games, music and video through the gear.

Education is a big market for tablets and e-readers, partly because they are easier for administrators to manage than personal computers and laptops.

So far schools have been interested in Apple’s iPads and have been buying them at a rate of a million units a year in the US.