Could an Apple iTablet be a Kindle e-Book and e-Comic Killer?

Mac Touch Concept Rendering

Yeah, let the speculation continue! No sooner did we blog about Apple's rumored March 24th Special Event being an iPhone 3.0 or even iTablet into, then we came across this wonderful article up at featuring uber-Apple tech journo, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times. Most tantalizingly:

"There's something I keep hearing, and I don't think I'd rank it as high as a rumor, but it's an interesting story that I keep hearing, that for awhile, trucks loaded with books would arrive at a loading dock on the Apple campus, and offload big, big, big, big, huge load of books, and then the trucks would leave empty. And Apple does not have a 100,000-book employee library there on the Apple campus," Ihnatko said. "So one is prone to believe that they're doing something with these books, such as turning them into text for some purpose we can only guess at. There's been a long-standing rumor that Apple has been silently preparing to open a bookstore on the iTunes store, and they want to make sure that they have a very large stock of electronic titles when they do open.

The entire article is definitely worth a read, and given the way print media, with associated delivery and distribution costs is going, an Apple-fronted e-Book reader would be good news. An Apple and iTunes Store front e-Comic Book reader could save Marvel and DC from their own current myopia as well.

Of course, even the mighty Amazon has failed to show there's a mainstream market for the Kindle yet (we don't believe they've even hit the magic 1 million sold mark yet, have they?) and Apple has never been one to lead markets, only consumer-ize them, so we'll see...

Meantime, who wants one?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Could an Apple iTablet be a Kindle e-Book and e-Comic Killer?


Well, Steve said that no one reads anymore, so books are "dead". So, you know that is the next think coming to iTunes :-)

Seeing how well Stanza did and how much the webcomics have spread lately, it's plausible that Apple considers books and comics as iTunes business. Also, it would be another weapon in the corporate arsenal to use to show people that they are green.

Basically, you're talking about a device that's already on the market... The mod book, just with iPhone gestures. I don't see this as likely, it overlaps too many of their other products.

Sounds like a nice idea but I can't imagine having time to read a book on mine before getting distracted by a phonecall, text, email, game, net search, iPod track change etc.
I don't think I'd get passed page 1!

I think it's highly unlikely that Apple would scan huge numbers of books themselves - they're not in the book scanning business. That task would be contracted out. And even that assumes that the books NEED to be scanned - surely you'd need to have the publishers onboard, and they'd already have the books in electronic format. Paying folks to stand around in front of a scanner to manually scan all those books would be prohibitively expensive.

Apple is a predictable but unpredictable company. They very well could be making e-books. Or it could be a complete rumor. Only apple knows. All we can do is wait until the end of march. Who knows, maybe it will be announced earlier!

Sean does make an excellant point though, why would apple copy the books, when most likely they would, again as sean said, contract it out. Or else have the publishers do it.

With Hakala and Sean, the idead of an ebook distributor scanning books is ridiculous. To publish an ebook they need the authorization from the copyright holder and they would have the book in electronic format already or they wouldn't have been able to publish it! The only people scanning actual recent books to make ebooks are pirates. It does make sense to scan old out of print books which were never in electronic format but we are talking really old there.

Sean, Hakala and Benoit Cerrina have a point. But if I were to launch a giant bookstore I would also make sure that in my bookstore I have thousands of free, out of copyright books, and so that my competitors don't say I'm piggybacking on projects Gutenberg and I would also help digitise a few thousands books. This way, I would have shut up the competition and also gained another great weapon for the marketing department.

@Loz - good recovery with that second post! :D
Things get interesting... I'm a UK user - and i'm due for an upgrade in days! I've been waiting to get an iphone since last year (contracts GRRR!) - but now i'm waiting for the next one to come outsimply because I don't wanna have an iphone thats outdated for 15 months of my 18 month contract.
I'm not a reader normally - but if its on one of my beloved gadgets then i may be tempted to do it a little more. That said - with the rest of the apps and tools it coems with etc... i may be a little bit preoccupied!

I would want one for sure. I don't really think that Sony or Amazon have products that are usable for me. Number 1 thing is size, get a least full pages screen size. Number 2 all of these newspapers are getting hit with lower subscription numbers and they are complaining how nobody wants to pay for their content, just use ebook readers that work well and make it easy to get content. I'm planing on buying an ebook reader, just hoping maybe apple will come up with iPhone type device for ebooks.

Sign me up! I'd like one, too. OUr newspaper subscription just rose to $240 (with gratuity for carrier). At that amount of $$, an ebook/web surfing/email device for $500-700 looks real sweet. It'd be a 3-year payback and have so much more utility!

I had my kindle dx delivered last week. And just wanted to say I am so happy! :o). I did some research on aol and also asked my collegues for feedback. Finally bought it from Kindle Store. They had a discount coupon and I got $25 off. I am so happy with it after having downloaded digital media from Amazon - all of them were free! I just love it!

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