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Apple acting 'very aggressively' with regard to publishers?

updated 12:30 pm EST, Mon January 25, 2010

New York Times team working on tablet app

Apple has been pushing hard during the last month to secure e-book publishers for its imminent tablet, a pair of sources in the publishing industry claim. Both are said to agree that Apple will probably have some sort of deal secured by launch, although one or more may be in principle only, rather than worked out in detail. Apple may be able to say it has partnerships with "all the major publishers" during this Wednesday's press event.

The company is moreover thought to be undermining two other businesses in the e-book world, Amazon and Scrollmotion. Amazon is being deliberately targeted in Apple pitches, say the sources, and countered with an agency model that gives publishers more control over aspects like pricing. Scrollmotion is the biggest book contributor on the App Store, but has allegedly been left out of tablet talks, since Apple is contacting publishers directly. "The smaller outfits are going to get screwed," one executive is said to claim.

In practical terms the tablet will cost well below $1,000, the sources say. While it has been kept away from publisher meetings, the tablet is described by one person as "a very-readable 10-inch glass screen smaller in size than the Kindle DX with a similar weight." Apple is also allegedly comparing the difference between the tablet and the Kindle with the leap from black-and-white TV to color.

The sources add that Apple has been hoping to show off e-book content at Wednesday's event, but could have as little as one example, and no substantial libraries until the middle of 2010 at the earliest. Helping to showcase the tablet in another fashion may be the New York Times, which has reportedly had a team at Apple's Cupertino headquarters in recent weeks, working on a tablet-sized version of its iPhone app. The improved app should further integrate video, a source for the LA Times suggests.

by MacNN Staff



  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    are they really

    being very aggressive or is it that we are just now finding out about deals they have been working on for while.

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    But I don't have an agent

    I really hope that they have an option for those of us that write and write but can never get a regular publisher to look at our work.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Be your own agent

    You can publish content as an app for the iPhone and also for Amazon's Kindle, i think Apple has no other option than to let authors self-publish now or later this year. This alone will revolutionize the publishing industry and there tablet.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: an agent

    An agent doesn't publish. That's a publisher.

    And you can just publish your own works. You don't need some high-faluting guy from New York to deem your work good enough for print.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Why is this thing written as if publishers will all jump from Amazon to go Apple? Can't they, I don't know, offer their books on both?

    And why would apple talk to 'scrollmotion'? They have no negotiating rights for people's work, so why would they talk to them?

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    TuneCore or App Store Redux?

    Whereas Apple has taken on the hosting side with their App store, one still has to go through outlets like TuneCore to get their work on the iTMS if you want to get in without a major label. Sure, it's a flat fee from another 3rd party instead of a percentage, so you may be out to make more than the percentage cut, but it's not Apple hosting and it's not free to try.

    I would see literary works in a similar light: they already have the established middle-man, publishing houses, involved in their market. If history is to repeat itself, i don't see Apple becoming the publisher replacement people are hoping for here. Then again, if there's any truth to these "aggressive" negotiations, perhaps Apple is threatening the publishers with hooking authors away from them by offering larger cuts said authors than the authors would normally get in advances or the usual lower %ages of book sales.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: TuneCore

    Then again, if there's any truth to these "aggressive" negotiations, perhaps Apple is threatening the publishers with hooking authors away from them by offering larger cuts said authors than the authors would normally get in advances or the usual lower %ages of book sales.

    I seriously doubt the publishers would be worried about such things. Big authors get huge up-front payouts for their next work, and Apple's not going to be able to deal with that (regardless of how much cash they have on hand).

    And, like with digital music, the market for digital books is far smaller than for physical copies. No author would dump their publisher for getting a 'bigger cut' from those 10% of people with a new tablet.

    Oh, and if the iPod/iPhone is any indication, most of these users are cheap-a$$ed anyway and wouldn't be buying anything that expensive to begin with.

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