What will the e-book market look like after Apple's iPad goes on sale April 3? New reports are beginning to paint a picture of at least what pricing might look like.
According to a site that follows Apple products and rumors, prices for most fiction best sellers will be $9.99. App Advice published a pre-release screenshot earlier this week from the upcoming iBookstore, with prices for several current best sellers indicated.
This means that e-best sellers on the iPad will be competitive with Amazon's prices for its Kindle e-reader. Some industry analysts had suggested that prices of popular e-books on the iPad could be higher than Amazon's. This was because Apple is taking a cut of whatever prices publishers set, and because Amazon was cutting prices, sometimes losing money, in order to pump up its market share.
While the prices of best-selling e-books are apparently stabilizing, the pricing structure for iPad-delivered magazines and newspapers looks to be as varied as the publications themselves.
One of the few successful paid-content publishers, The Wall Street Journal, said earlier this week that it plans to charge $17.99 per month for an iPad subscription. The Journal also reported that Esquire magazine will sell a version of its April issue for $2.99, $2 less than on the newsstand, and that it will contain music videos for original songs containing the phrase "somewhere in Mississippi."
In another pricing model, Rodale's Men Health magazine will offer 10 free, ad-supported pages from its April and May issues, but a download of the full issue will be same as the newsstand price -- $4.99.
Other E-Reader Software on iPad
It's possible the e-book market will allow for some crossover of titles from one source on another company's playback device, which could result in rapidly changing pricing models.
Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at the NPD Group, noted that "it appears Apple will allow the presence of other e-reader software on the iPad, so consumers should be able to bring over books purchased at Amazon, Kobo and other online stores." However, he added, users may not be able to actually buy from those stores on the iPad.
The iPad will also be awash in free content, with reports that Project Gutenberg will make available 30,000 classic book titles in Apple's iBookstore.
The iPad's entry could completely change the e-book market, just as the iPhone and the iPod did for their respective markets. The Kindle has sold an estimated three million units, but some industry analysts, such as Barclays Capital's Ben Reitzes, are predicting that Apple will sell as many as five million iPads this year.
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