Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
54,483
16,564


Silicon Alley Insider reports that Apple is unlikely to create its own "iTunes for e-books" and will instead rely on third parties to deliver e-book content through the existing App Store. An e-book industry source has reportedly indicated that while Apple had contemplated directly offering e-book content several years ago, the plans were scrapped once the company fully grasped how difficult the industry is to navigate.
- The e-book market is still rather small, and even if Apple's tablet is a huge hit, it'll be hard to make enough revenue selling e-books to make the huge project -- setting up and running an e-book store -- worthwhile.
- Apple's iTunes music, video, and apps stores are designed as break-even businesses to help sell more Apple hardware, like iPhones, iPods, and Macs.
- There's already a ton of e-book vendors in the App Store that could provide a good-enough e-book shopping and reading experience to fulfill the "help sell more Apple hardware" mission. Better ones are showing up all the time.
- E-book stores that use Apple's iTunes e-commerce platform -- or are standalone e-book apps -- generate a very nice 30% revenue cut for Apple. The company probably wouldn't get enough additional revenue selling e-books on its own to be worthwhile.
Speculation regarding Apple's role in e-book offerings for its much-rumored tablet computer was renewed by a recent Financial Times report that cited interest in the new device on the part of e-book publishers. Rumors of Apple collecting book manuscripts for publication surfaced in mid-2006 as details of what ultimately became the iPod touch were circulating, although no Apple e-book offerings were ever released.

Article Link: Apple Unlikely to Directly Enter e-Book Market?
 

Zwhaler

macrumors 604
Jun 10, 2006
6,990
1,392
I wouldn't be surprised if the rumored Apple Tablet had e-book functionality, but it seems unwise for them to create a standalone e-book reader.
 

smileyborg

macrumors 6502
May 12, 2009
267
0
The app store doesn't just "break even"? does it?

I'm sure Apple is pulling a nice little profit with the App Store, however they have previously noted that their 30% cut is often just enough to cover transaction fees (credit card fees) and support the infrastructure...so in the big picture, yes, their main profits do come from hardware sales.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
The iPhone is many things at once and I think that generality gives it its value. It should be the same with the tablet. If Apple tries to sell it as an e-book reader and not as a general purpose device (for which e-book readers and service happen to be available), I think they'd be painting themselves into a corner. They should avoid getting caught in a niche.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,363
420
Boston, MA
the iphone/ipod touch support kindle. and that quite nicely including whispersync. so with that the ebook needs for the mac tablet are covered. all other e-book suppliers/magazine suppliers also will be represented in some form on the iphone and the tablet (if there ever is one).

aside of that I would prefer to have a itunes like system with real ownership of the ebooks, not the orwellsche form of ebooks from amazon.:mad:
 

smileyborg

macrumors 6502
May 12, 2009
267
0
The iPhone is many things at once and I think that generality gives it its value. It should be the same with the tablet. If Apple tries to sell it as an e-book reader and not as a general purpose device (for which e-book readers and service happen to be available), I think they'd be painting themselves into a corner. They should avoid getting caught in a niche.

Agreed. This is the downfall of the Kindle -- why pay $300-400 for a device that only reads books when you can get an iPod touch for less money that will do so much more? (Granted, it doesn't use E-ink or anything but I've found reading on the iPhone/iPod touch more than satisfactory.)
 

tny

macrumors 6502
Jun 3, 2003
406
46
Washington, DC
I agree. Let Amazon run the bookstore, and let that enhance the value of their hardware products, rather than making a separate investment.

I would not be terribly surprised, though, if Apple has the same capabilities with the iPhone apps that Amazon has with the Kindle (or if Amazon has the same capabilities with the Kindle for iPhone App it has with the hardware Kindles). This genii isn't going to be back in the bottle any time soon.

the iphone/ipod touch support kindle. and that quite nicely including whispersync. so with that the ebook needs for the mac tablet are covered. all other e-book suppliers/magazine suppliers also will be represented in some form on the iphone and the tablet (if there ever is one).

aside of that I would prefer to have a itunes like system with real ownership of the ebooks, not the orwellsche form of ebooks from amazon.:mad:
 

Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
3,520
1,283
Book sellers should ease people into the transition via offering ebooks with the hard print versions.

Until I find them as good or better than the print, I will not buy the eVersion. There has been no proof to me that eBooks are more convenient than print, aside from lack of bulk.
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,117
8
This is fine. Apple was also unlikely to directly enter the mobile gaming market. They didn't. They left it to 3rd party developers and now they have Nintendo worried.
 

Michael CM1

macrumors 603
Feb 4, 2008
5,680
275
Chalk up a deal with Amazon and use the Kindle platform. I have the Kindle app for my iPhone and have already bought 4 books for it. I'd love to own a Kindle, but I really don't want to spend $300 on a one-function device.

If a rumored Apple tablet costs $800 or more, it wouldn't be a direct competitor to the Kindle. Plus from Amazon's standpoint, that's a lot more people who will buy books from your store. I've already given them about $35 I wouldn't have without the iPhone app.
 

monster620ie

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2004
84
68
I don't believe that I can comfortably read a whole book or even a magazine or newspaper on the iPhone or iTouch. It's bad enough trying to read a website on the iPhone let alone a whole book.
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
The iPhone is many things at once and I think that generality gives it its value. It should be the same with the tablet. If Apple tries to sell it as an e-book reader and not as a general purpose device (for which e-book readers and service happen to be available), I think they'd be painting themselves into a corner. They should avoid getting caught in a niche.

It's funny you should say that, since most of the anti-Apple zealots claim that Apple makes nothing but niche products anyway.

Barring that, I have to agree with the overall viewpoint; creating a one-shot pony like an e-book reader goes against the grain of Apple anyway. Even the iPod is far more than just an mp3 player, after all. Still, if the rumors of a tablet device are true, I can see it easily performing well as an e-book reader as well as an electronic clipboard.
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,097
304
Indianapolis
It's funny you should say that, since most of the anti-Apple zealots claim that Apple makes nothing but niche products anyway.
Eh, it works both ways. If Apple makes a niche product it stays niche or you complain because it is niche.

I should have posted this earlier for effect. :rolleyes:
 

mackensteff

macrumors member
Feb 11, 2006
66
0
Killer feature

In the previous post on the killer feature, I never put the one I think many are hoping for: E-text books. I know book dealers would love to sell more electronic copies of their books. In talking with book sellers they are in bad shape. They really only make money on the first sale of textbooks, then they enter the used market and used book store rake in the money, but none goes back to the publisher and author (thus why book prices are so high, they have to recoup costs and profit the first sale, then it drops to near zero. This also explains while texts are usually on a 3 year edition cycle.)
The books sellers are pushing hard for e-texts as they can DRM them for a year, then no resell. The next year students must buy their own. Publishing costs drop as their are no press runs, and inventory is a couple redundant hard drives. The bonus is profit for bookstores, but they haven't caught on yet, why?

E-books mean you need access to a computer, and laptops are helping sales, but still to many draw backs.

Now the market changer-The Apple Tablet
All your books fit into an envelope, save the back pain.
Take notes in your book just like you do now.
Follow hyperlinks directly from book(hyperlinks are common in printed books now, but I doubt they are used much)

If college student embraced this, paper text books could cease to exist in years. And while Steve is likely right that people don't read, they do still by hordes of text books.

If they put the Apple polish on this are sorted out the current problems of e-texts this could kill.

Some colleges now have all the students get an iPod, now imagine they all have the apple tablet, and get their books online. Would kill the profit of campus bookstores, but apple and publishers would be rich, filthy rich I tell you!!!
 

DaBrain

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2007
1,124
1
ERIE, PA
the iphone/ipod touch support kindle. and that quite nicely including whispersync. so with that the ebook needs for the mac tablet are covered. all other e-book suppliers/magazine suppliers also will be represented in some form on the iphone and the tablet (if there ever is one).

aside of that I would prefer to have a itunes like system with real ownership of the ebooks, not the orwellsche form of ebooks from amazon.:mad:

I agree and find this news if true to be disappointing. I'd rather Apple dedicate their own Software reader for their own product so everything displays in color that contains color. The kindle ebooks and such are all black and white. Why switch from a kindle then? Unless the publishers do so? However a lot of the quality and formating by the individual publisher sucks! Along with a crappy selection of readable fonts for the vision impaired.

I think Apple quality and oversight would be much better!

For me, even if the release is true on the tablet, this would cause me pause in purchasing it as I read a lot. Was really looking for Apple quality reading experiences with great formating and color layout. Time will tell. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this rumor is not true. :eek::confused:
 

Bjohnson33

macrumors 6502
Mar 4, 2006
264
0
Agreed. This is the downfall of the Kindle -- why pay $300-400 for a device that only reads books when you can get an iPod touch for less money that will do so much more? (Granted, it doesn't use E-ink or anything but I've found reading on the iPhone/iPod touch more than satisfactory.)

If a tablet does come out, it will be interesting to compare the readability of content on a back-lit tablet to those on an e-ink page. The Sony reader that I've seen had a very impressive screen, and the fact that it only draws power when you turn a page makes it seem like a better-suited machine for e-books.
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
I agree. Let Amazon run the bookstore, and let that enhance the value of their hardware products, rather than making a separate investment.

I would not be terribly surprised, though, if Apple has the same capabilities with the iPhone apps that Amazon has with the Kindle (or if Amazon has the same capabilities with the Kindle for iPhone App it has with the hardware Kindles). This genii isn't going to be back in the bottle any time soon.

Chalk up a deal with Amazon and use the Kindle platform. I have the Kindle app for my iPhone and have already bought 4 books for it. I'd love to own a Kindle, but I really don't want to spend $300 on a one-function device.

If a rumored Apple tablet costs $800 or more, it wouldn't be a direct competitor to the Kindle. Plus from Amazon's standpoint, that's a lot more people who will buy books from your store. I've already given them about $35 I wouldn't have without the iPhone app.

I don't believe that I can comfortably read a whole book or even a magazine or newspaper on the iPhone or iTouch. It's bad enough trying to read a website on the iPhone let alone a whole book.

In my own case, I've read a number of books through my iPhone and I really like having the ability to carry a selection of books with me to read whenever I have to sit in a waiting room or in the car while waiting for my wife at work or in shopping. Having the ability to carry several books along without taking up the bulk of those several books is a huge advantage.

However, I will agree that the iPhone's screen is too small for comfort. I'd like to see a full page at a time. Buy a Kindle? No way! Aside from being an overpriced, one-use tool, I have little control over what I can keep in it or how I view the contents. Last week's episode about George Orwell's novels is just one strong example against the Kindle. Add to this the fact that I want to read books that are available in the public domain--freely downloaded through Project Gutenburg and other sources makes iPhone apps like Stanza (I know, bought by Amazon) a better product. I'd even like to put my own books into it so I can read and annotate changes as I prepare it for publication.

Obviously, a clipboard-sized tablet would be a good compromise. It could be about the same height and width as a hard-bound book while staying almost as slim as a magazine. Give it the ability to run apps like Stanza while allowing it to have the full functionality of a made-for-touch-screen operating system that lets it run a full gamut of already-published software (more than iPhone OS 3 and maybe even a full version of OS X, for example.)

My main complaint, however, is that e-books for Kindle, B&N and the others are far too expensive. Why should you pay more for an electronic copy of a book than you do for a paperback copy? Yes, I understand that there are a lot of steps in the publishing business, I'm a writer, after all. But to charge more to get less? You eliminate the actual printing process and suddenly your costs go down incredibly. Carry this savings over to your reader by selling it for NO MORE than the price of a paperback, and you'll sell more copies! Sell it for $5 instead of $10 and you'd likely sell twice as many e-copies, though you'd parasitically eat up your dead-tree sales. Honestly, e-books won't take off until they become less expensive to purchase than their hard-copy brethren.
 

wizard

macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
3,854
571
Nice, this is the right approach if....

If Apple supplied an app that defines a common file format. Ideally a Pteview like app. In many cases PDF would be a suitable format but there are others to choose from too. Especially for straight text documents which is what many books are. A common well supported file format that gains universal adoption is exactly what the industry needs.

Otherwise I think this is the right approach by Apple. There are literally hundreds of publishers out there, some highly specialized, it is not something that Apple wants to mess with. Better for them to offer the framework for data delivery.

One last thing they need to expose the file system and allow people the ability to easily manage data on their device. I was hoping they would get it right with the iDisk app but they didn't. This will be very important once you try to manage documents and e-books from hundereds of sources. Storing such files within an app directory is nonsense.

Dave
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
Makes sense to me. It would be nice to have an Apple-simple consolidated front-end for these other ebook sources though. (And I'm sure they'd be glad of the sales.)
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,688
170
I agree and find this news if true to be disappointing. I'd rather Apple dedicate their own Software reader for their own product so everything displays in color that contains color. The kindle ebooks and such are all black and white. Why switch from a kindle then? Unless the publishers do so? However a lot of the quality and formating by the individual publisher sucks! Along with a crappy selection of readable fonts for the vision impaired.

I think Apple quality and oversight would be much better!

For me, even if the release is true on the tablet, this would cause me pause in purchasing it as I read a lot. Was really looking for Apple quality reading experiences with great formating and color layout. Time will tell. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this rumor is not true. :eek::confused:

there is also the barnes and noble e-book store with a color reader and a much larger selection
 

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
6,042
2,060
Western US
- There's already a ton of e-book vendors in the App Store that could provide a good-enough e-book shopping and reading experience

Except isn't "good enough" exactly the problem Apple is supposed to be solving? Haven't they derided Windows, Dells, other smartphones, other MP3 players, other video downloaded services, etc. for being merely "good enough"? If Jobs and Apple starts thinking about "good enough" (which I don't think they do), then Apple is finished. "Good enough" is not good enough.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.