Well you can’t buy a device, there are no e-books on sale through the app store and it was only announced three days ago but as predicted Apple’s iPad has already shaken up digital publishing.
On Friday Amazon removed all books by publisher Macmillan – physical and digital – in a move industry insiders say is the culmination of an ongoing dispute over the price the retailing giant was charging customers for e-books on the Kindle. Macmillan wanted to set its own price (around $15) for e-books but Amazon had them locked in at a maximum of $9.99. That disagreement means you can’t currently buy any books from one of the world’s biggest publishers directly from Amazon.
Funnily enough Macmillan is one of the big publishers signing up to the Apple e-book store right from the start. And what’s the price Apple is letting Macmillan charge for an e-book? The magical $15.
While the New York Times rightly says there may be some anti-trust issues if Macmillan’s books went on sale through one of the stores and not the other, there’s still a bit over a month before Apple’s e-book store opens for business. My guess is that it’s Macmillan flexing its muscle now there’s another giant player in the market. Plenty of time for further negotiations.
I’m even more convinced now that the iPad as an e-book reader is a fifth order issue when it comes to digital publishing. All the uber-geeks are complaining because it doesn’t do this or it doesn’t do that. But this device is not designed to replace your laptop. It’s a device to let you consume digital media easily. And it does that well. I’m sure it will make a very good e-book reader but we’ve got plenty of them already.
While it could be months (or years) before Australians will be able to buy e-books from Apple, the impact across the digital publishing industry is likely to be felt much sooner.