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Apple in talks with nearly all major book publishers

updated 01:20 pm EST, Wed January 20, 2010

Time to be missing from tablet announcement?

Apple is currently in negotiations with "nearly all (and most likely all) of the six largest trade publishers," says Publishers Marketplace. Representatives are said to be meeting in New York this week, specifically to discuss arrangements for e-books published on an Apple tablet. The publishers are allegedly after an "agency model," in which they would control access to files, as well as prices.

The concern is believed to be a difficult revenue model Amazon has used with the Kindle, although Amazon executives are also said to be meeting with publishers and agents in New York this week, talking about "simultaneous ebook release of new titles and pricing." The company has in fact announced a new, optional pricing scheme, which will take effect on June 30th. Similar to Apple's arrangement for the App Store, publishers will be allowed to take 70 percent of the revenue from each Kindle book sale; for an $8.99 book for instance, a publisher would receive $6.25, rather than the current $3.15.

Books must however cost between $2.99 and $9.99, and be more than 20 percent cheaper than the lowest price for a physical copy. Other criteria include matching or beating competing prices, and making a title available in all regions for which an author or publisher has rights. Books are also expected to integrate with advanced features like text-to-speech.

Some publishers may in fact be absent from Apple's expected tablet announcement, says PM, though this would be because deals may not be ready for January 27th. Talks are so fresh according to All Things Digital that Apple has "only recently started" sharing minimal information about the tablet. Negotiations with Time are only believed to have happened in the past few weeks, and as a result it is thought that the publisher will have nothing to show at the tablet debut.

Time is still said to be "intensely interested" in the product, simply waiting for Apple to actually share details before it gets working on content.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    Ding Ding Ding!

    "Books must however cost between $2.99 and $9.99, and be more than 20 percent cheaper than the lowest price for a physical copy."

    Finally, some common sense. If it's not cheaper than a physical paperback, you know they're gouging you. There's nowhere near the overhead with eBooks, especially if a third party like Apple is hosting them, to justify costs being almost as much as a hard-cover copy.

    Get rid of that noxious, device specific DRM, and we might have a winner here.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2009


    only 20% cheaper?

    I would like to see a cost breakdown of the current costs associated with printing and distributing a physical book. I know the printing costs can be high as well as distribution and costs associated with having a book store (even one in a distribution center like Amazon). Creating an e-book version shouldn't be that expensive, especially since the author went through the effort of creating an electronic version for the normal printing process (actually, the cost should be less because the pre-press process isn't required). Distributing the e-book should be able to make use of the same distribution stream as music and videos.

    So why only 20% cheaper? Are the authors actually getting more money? Is the publisher still getting a ton of money even though they are doing a lot less?

  1. cmoney

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2000


    Kindle app

    I wonder if Apple will allow the Kindle app to run on the iTouch++.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Nov 2008


    I would imagine the more demand there

    is for digital publications, a lower price could be offered since they could make up costs in selling digital books to more people. That could be a long way down the road since it might take a while for a large percentage of consumers to really warm up to using tablets. There should be some sort of pilot program in libraries for people to use eReaders. I think that smartphone use has really gone up but there is hardly any market for eReaders as of yet. Apple could grow immensely into another new medium. I'm very excited to be around to see the transition of written media from physical to digital.

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