Up until now, the Australian version of Apple's ebook marketplace, the iBookstore, has been fairly sparsely populated compared with rivals. But today, the company has added half a dozen major new publishers to its catalogue in a major move.
"Today, thousands of titles from both major and independent publishers, including Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Hardie Grant, HarperCollins Publishers, Murdoch Publishers and Wiley, are now available on the Australian iBookstore," the company said in a statement.
HarperCollins issued its own statement, saying its "full ebook catalogue" of local and international titles would now be available through the iBookstore, including Australian offerings such as Colleen McCullough's Naked Cruelty, Rebecca Lim's Mercy and Peter FitzSimons' A Simpler Time.
"Having HarperCollins' ebooks available in Apple's iBookstore when it launches represents a significant opportunity for the Australian consumer to get further access to a fantastic array of books," said HarperCollins chief executive Michael Moynahan.
"The popularity of the iPad and the iBookstore in the US and the UK indicates that the market available to Australian authors through this platform will be significant here in Australia and also contribute to the accessibility of our authors in these markets."
Hachette Australia also issued a statement noting it would from today make its ebooks available through the iBookstore. The company publishes a wide range locally from imprints such as Hodder & Stoughton, Orion, Orbit and Gollancz, for example. Some of the authors to be made available by the publisher include Patricia Cornwell, Charlaine Harris, Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer and Alexander McCall Smith.
"In future, all newly published books will be available simultaneously with the publication of their printed equivalent and Hachette will progressively add more previously published titles, as they go through the process of digitisation," the company said.
Business publisher Wrightbooks (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons) said it would make "a wide selection of titles" available through Apple's market, and likewise Murdoch Books, which said it would publish books such as the recent autobiography of Australian television entrepreneur Reg Grundy.
However, not everyone agrees that the iBookstore has been a big success internationally.
US-based blog The Unofficial Apple Weblog wrote on 14 October this year, for example, that the iBookstore had progressed "very poorly" in comparison with Amazon's Kindle marketplace, which claims to have over 700,000 books, magazines and blogs available for download. The blog wrote that it was unable to find many common books on the iBookstore — including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example.
In Australia, the iBookstore's primary local competitor — apart from Amazon — is Borders' Kobo store. Borders said at launch that over 2 million titles would eventually be available through the Kobo platform and recently said it was averaging 1000 sales a day — at an average price of just above AU$10 — not counting free books.