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Apple will hold a publishing-related media event later this month in New York City to introduce a self-publishing service for its iTunes bookstore to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s Pubit.
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If the reports hold true, this is another indication that a recurring theme of 2012 will be the confrontation between Apple and Amazon on multiple fronts, as the two companies offering complete device-to-purchase-to-cloud ecosystems compete head-to-head. November’s release of the Amazon Fire was a shot across the bow of the iPad. Now Apple appears ready to challenge Amazon in its stronghold of publishing.
KDP and Pubit allow authors to easily self-publish their own books and collect royalties. The service has proved popular with both readers and authors. In 2011, two of the top ten selling books on Amazon were self-published novels and numerous self-published authors have sold more than a million books, especially when priced in the $0.99-$1.99 range which encourages impulse purchases.
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Apple is said to be targeting Amazon’s KDP Select program, which offers authors who agree to publish exclusively with Amazon promotional help and a guaranteed minimum royalty pot of $500,000 a month through 2012.
Under Apple’s current system independent authors can’t easily self-publish on iBooks through the iTunes bookstore because of strict formatting requirements and the cost of registering the book for ISBN number. Authors can go through third party sources like Smashwords.
Early reports suggest Apple is going to mimic KDP select and also adopt EPUB, the open eBooks standard but the exact details of the program are not known.
Other reports suggest Apple also announce improvements to its iTunes University, possibly including a textbook publishing service.
The exact date of the event has not been released. Apple Executive Vice-President Eddy Cue, who runs iTunes among other things, is said to be involved.
The company is not expected to make any hardware announcements at that time. Apple will likely announce an updated iPad in late February or March.
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