updated 09:05 am EDT, Wed September 30, 2009
Apple rumored putting text on iTunes
A second and potentially more significant rumor today claims that Apple has been courting publications with the aim of putting text on iTunes for the sake of its upcoming tablet. The iPhone creator has reportedly talked to the New York Times, an unnamed magazine publisher (possibly Conde Nast or similar) and textbook publishers McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press to bring their content formatted for the iTunes Store.
The tablet is the likely aim, but the publishers themselves may be interested in making the move, according to the Gizmodo contacts. Although the common perception is that textbook makers are normally resistant to digital editions as it would force the high prices of these books downwards, these print houses would reportedly be more willing to adopt it with a copy protection system that prevented resales. A "one-time use" system, presumably for the length of a college term, would let students use the book at a fraction of its normal paper cost but would help publishers by preventing campus bookstores from reselling books and cutting off many future sales.
Apple would at least initially just port text in a basic format but might eventually take advantage of its media expertise to add audio, video, and manipulated graphics to books to make "living" documents much like websites, but in a self-contained and protected format.
Little is spoiled regarding the tablet hardware in the leak, but an introduction sometime in January has supposedly been confirmed by a source at a "high level."
A major push towards books, magazines and newspapers would contradict Steve Jobs' well-known criticisms of the Amazon Kindle, as he has argued that too few people read. However, the Apple chief has lately softened his stance and argued that the main flaw of the Kindle and other e-book readers is their single-purpose nature rather than their existence in the first place. Jobs has also been known to use comments as a feint by arguing against developing a particular product or feature only to introduce what he believes is a superior product later that thwarts competitors; notably, he decried video on portable media players in 2004 only to add it as a feature a year later.