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Details Of Apple iBook Pricing Leaked Online

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As the release date for the Apple iPad draws near, information regarding e-book pricing from Apple’s iBookstore has leaked online

Following a battle between publishers and Amazon over the price of digital books sold for the company’s e-reader, the Kindle, a photo showing the alleged pricing structure for Apple’s online iBookstore surfaced.

The screenshot, by way of Apple blog App Advice, shows four current fiction bestsellers listed (US pricing) for $9.99 (£6.69) apiece. Blog author Alexander Vaughn wrote that he had the opportunity last week to view a “not-so-NDA-complying preview” of the store.

“At the moment, out of the 32 e-books featured in the New York Times’ Bestsellers section, 27, including the entire top 10, are priced at $9.99,” he wrote. “As for the remaining five, the highest priced one… goes for just $12.99.”

As the launch date for the Apple iPad draws near, speculation is increasing as to how Apple will structure the pricing of e-books. The App Advice blog also published a second photo of the iBookstore showing titles from Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works. The project boasts more than 30,000 titles, including classics such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which would be offered for free. Books would be downloaded using Apple’s iBook application, which is also capable of embedding video.

The information gathered by App Advice suggests Apple has been able to avoid the confrontation with publishers that Amazon found itself in earlier this year. In February, Amazon settled its dispute with publisher Macmillian over the price of e-books, as Amazon had relisted the titles from the publishing house after removing them from its online store. The two companies had a disagreement over Macmillan’s request for control of pricing and the ability to offer different books at different prices.

A report surfaced later that month in The New York Times suggesting Apple was angling to control prices of its e-books, negotiating with major publishers for the ability to control e-book prices in the event that a particular text becomes a bestseller or starts selling at a discount in its hardcover version. Under the terms of that model, e-books that would ordinarily sell for $12.99 or $14.99 on Apple’s online storefront could be downloaded instead for $9.99. The article stated that the publishers involved in the Apple negotiations included Simon & Schuster, the Penguin Group, Macmillan, HarperCollins Publishers and the Hachette Book Group.

The news comes on the heels of a survey by comScore showing interest in the iPad is already very high. Consumers were asked several questions regarding their awareness of various e-readers and tablet devices and their past purchase behavior or intent to purchase these devices, with 65 percent voicing aided awareness, the same as that of Amazon’s rival Kindle device. The survey found consumers have demonstrated a high level of interest in digital reading devices. The survey found between 58 percent and 69 percent of consumers had conducted online research of the top five devices. “The iPad rated highest in terms of consumers seriously considering purchase over the next three months at 15 percent of Internet users, with the Kindle at 14 percent,” the report noted. “The Kindle rated highest in terms of current device ownership at six percent of all Internet users, followed by Sony Reader at four percent.”