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Apple iPad and iBookstore: Is this the publishing industry's savior?

January 27, 2010 | 10:59 am

Ipad-ibook Leading up to the long-speculated launch of Apple's iPad tablet computer, the publishing industry -- newspapers, magazines and books -- seemed to be the target. At least, those execs were at the forefront of the leaks (thanks, McGraw-Hill!).

Could the iPad instantly succeed -- like the iPod did for digital music before it -- where Amazon's Kindle had been slowly gaining steam?

It should come as no surprise that a publisher -- the New York Times -- was the first partner that was shown during the Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco today. The app is well-designed and looks to be a mix between NYTimes.com and its already-existent iPhone app.

"Why did we come out three weeks ago to develop an app for the iPad?" said Martin Nisenholtz, the N.Y. Times senior vice president for digital operations, during the announcement. "We think that we've captured the essence of reading a newspaper... all in a native app."

Apple took a direct shot at Amazon with the iBooks. The application looks like a bookshelf, showing the digital books owned by the user. And of course, a store (naturally, the iBookstore) along the lines of the iTunes Store, where book publishers (like, hey, McGraw-Hill!) can sell their virtual wares.

"We're going to open up the floodgates for the rest of the publishing world starting this afternoon," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said on-stage.

Prices shown in the demo appear comparable to Amazon's Kindle store. Amazon already has an app for its bookstore made for the iPhone, so the company can't be happy that Apple is stepping into its home court.

But the iPad is not just about digitizing the paper. Electronic Arts showed off Need for Speed: Shift, a racing game built for the device. Brushes, a canvas for drawing art (finger-painting?), was also demoed. And the MLB, which has been quick to jump on new application platforms, showed off its live video app.

[Updated, 12:13 p.m.: Fixed the name of the iBookstore, which was originally listed as the iBook Store.]

-- Mark Milian

Follow the Apple event live!

Photo credit: Tony Avelar / Bloomberg

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