HarperCollins to Sell Enhanced Ebooks for New Apple Tablet

Posted on January 21, 2010

The Wall Street Journal reports that HarperCollins has been in talks with Apple to provide enhanced ebook content for the hotly anticipated Apple tablet computer. Apple won't comment, but HarperCollins says that the ebooks will retail for more than the $9.99 that many ebooks retail for on Amazon.com's Kindle. The enhanced books will feature author interviews and other content.

Brian Murray, the chief executive of HarperCollins, said in December that e-books enhanced with video, author interviews and social-networking applications could command higher retail prices for publishers than current e-books. Many of the country's largest publishing houses are worried about the sale of new bestsellers for only $9.99 in the e-book format. 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.

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.

HarperCollins is one of several major publishing houses that are holding back e-book versions of some new hardcover best sellers. The HarperCollins account of the 2008 presidential election, "Game Change," by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, was released in hardcover Jan. 11 but the e-book edition doesn't go on sale until Feb. 23. Enhanced e-books likely would be available for sale simultaneously with the hardcovers.

The Kindle doesn't have color or video capability, and the Apple tablet is widely seen as a major Kindle competitor. It's not clear where the books will be sold, but it makes sense that they would be sold at the iTunes store. The tablet, which Apple still hasn't even officially confirmed the existence of, will debut January 27.

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