How the iPad is shaking up publishing


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This week’s New Yorker brings an excellent overview by Ken Auletta of what the iPad means for the publishing industry. Auletta shows that Apple’s entry into the e-book universe was about a lot more than just a new device: It gave publishers an alternative to Amazon’s e-book pricing structure, a bit of leverage where they had previously had none.

Auletta details what happened when Amazon removed MacMillan’s buy buttons and the role of e-books in the larger bookselling landscape. He also goes back, trying to get at Amazon’s intentions toward books: ‘’Don’t forget,’ the chief of a publishing house said, ‘Bezos has declared that the physical book and bookstores are dead.’’


He talks to Markus Dohle -- the CEO of Random House, the biggest of the big six publishers -- about why his company is selling e-books only with Amazon and not with Apple. He hears from business publisher Tim O’Reilly, who says publishing’s traditional business model is flawed.

And then he looks forward, at the probable coming of Google’s massive book project, which has an entirely different structure. Apple’s entrance has shaken up the industry, but it’s not settled yet. How people get books is diversifying; the iPad is just the latest, shiniest access point.

About the only thing Auletta’s marvelous piece doesn’t address is the reading experience. I tackled that in our pages, and while in my estimation the iPad handily beat the Kindle, a flood of e-mails tells me that Kindle owners remain unconvinced.

-- Carolyn Kellogg