Apple in talks with HarperCollins over tablet e-books

“HarperCollins Publishers is negotiating with Apple Inc. to make electronic books available for the introduction of a new tablet device from Apple, according to people familiar with the situation, posing a challenge to Amazon.com Inc.,” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“HarperCollins is expected to set the prices of the e-books, which would have added features, with Apple taking a percentage of sales,” Trachtenberg reports. “It couldn’t be learned whether Apple will sell the HarperCollins titles via a new e-book store or through its existing iTunes Store, which sells music, television shows and movies.”

“Apple on Monday invited reporters to a San Francisco event on Jan. 27 at which it is expected to unveil its tablet,” Trachtenberg reports.

Trachtenberg reports, “The HarperCollins negotiations with Apple represent a direct challenge to Amazon, which dominates the fast-growing e-book market but which could face significant competition from an Apple tablet.”

MacDailyNews Take: Gee, ya think? Amazon would be eclipsed faster than a Michael Dell CES keynote.

Trachtenberg reports, “New releases of enhanced e-books could sell for $14.99 to $19.99, a person familiar with the situation said. HarperCollins is a unit of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.”

Full article here.

9 Comments

  1. The more the merrier… Apples’ table will differentiate itself from all of the others with software that has been customized for handheld operation (unlike Windows tables that I have seen), and mostly by the content providers that sign-up to have their content distributed for the device. So, the more content providers that Apple can sign up… the better.

  2. As with Music, in order to be successful, they need to pass along to the consumer at least half of what they save by not having to chop down trees, pulp them, glue them together in another shape, print, distribute, stock, and sell them in pleasant climate controlled stores. Just think of all that’s saved in digital distribution… and tell me $15 is not effin LAUGHABLE.
    As with music, the price should drop by at least 1/3 ($10 iTunes album vs $15 CD).
    I am so sick of companies looking to just take the consumer for whatever they can get- it’s not fair, and it’s bad business. I’ll be happy to pay a reasonable profit on top of fair production costs, but I really resent them trying to bleed me dry when they finally get around to something that’s been possible (and requested) for years now.
    And at that price… I’m just not interested.

  3. @Nathan,

    You said: “I am so sick of companies looking to just take the consumer for whatever they can get- it’s not fair, and it’s bad business. “

    Actually, it’s called the market system. Companies exist to make a profit (as much as they can), and they do so by charging what the market will bear (supply and demand). So long as there is competition (i.e., multiple companies offering the same, or substantially same, product at competitive prices and not colluding to jack up prices), it works. When there isn’t competition (i.e., a monopoly, or collusion), then the company(s) tends to take advantage of the customer, until some other company comes out with a substantially better product that is perceived as a better value.

    Now, I’m not into getting all snarky & name calling. I’d just like to suggest that if you think companies are charging too much, then don’t buy their products. I understand this response is all too vague; there isn’t enough room for a thesis (nor do I claim to have the background to produce one). And as with any general rule, there are some exceptions (e.g., retired people on a fixed income purchasing medications at their local pharmacy, as the medications are less a choice than a necessity). But it’s a system that, in general, works.

    Now, if only we could get away from the DoD-enforced monopoly for Microsoft products in the defense industry …

  4. I haven’t bought any films through iTunes because I can get them cheaper off Amazon. I can’t see how they can ship a physical product to me cheaper than Apple can transfer some bits. If e-books are going to cost $20 I guess I’ll still be buying dead wood for the time being. I’ll still buy the tablet though…

  5. @ Kevin J.Weise: you are correct. But Nathan does have a point. When new products enter the market that obviously cut the production costs, it is poor business to rape the customer. In some instances, it can harm the company in the long run, breeding resentment amongst consumers, who will rapidly defect to the competition when they rush in to undercut an overpriced product.

    Apple will NOT win the eBook market by charging paperback rates for electronic texts. Few people will invest in a very expensive electronic device if it doesn’t save them money in the long run, even if it offers new functionality. I am confident Apple knows this, and that any print media that Apple might choose to distribute will be competitively priced, just as iTunes music and films are.

  6. Depends on the “enhanced” features; imagine double-clicking on an unknown word and a pop-up window comes up with definition. Or not just pictures/graphs but also videos. Features like that could definitely make a book worth the price.

  7. I have not used an ebook, so this may be standard. But I will consider buying ebooks if they include a decent spoken option (i.e., modern version of “books on tape”) so that I could play them in the car during commutes/trips. That would be value-added to me.

    Also, as others have stated, the production and distribution costs for ebooks should be significantly lower than for hardcopy books, and the ebook price had better reflect the majority of those cost reductions. Otherwise, I will continue to get most of my books from the local public library.

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