Report: Apple seeks e-book pricing plan for tablet

Company is in secret negotiations with book publishers over a new e-books pricing scheme for Apple's highly anticipated tablet computer, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
2 min read

Apple is in secret last-minute negotiations with book publishers over a new e-books pricing scheme for its highly anticipated tablet computer, putting it in direct competition with Amazon.com, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Apple event tablet

Apple wants publishers to create two new price points for e-books of best-sellers: $12.99 and $14.99, with some titles offered at $9.99, according to the report. As it does with iPhone apps, Apple is negotiating for a 30 percent take on the sales price, with publishers getting the other 70 percent, the Journal reported.

The move would put Apple in an open battle for the e-book sales crown with Amazon, which has slashed the prices of titles for its Kindle e-book reader, offering some best-sellers for free. Amazon has also announced the release of a software development kit for the Kindle, which will allow developers to build and eventually sell their own applications for the device, apparently opening a new front with Apple and its iPhone.

Apple and Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.

When Apple allowed Amazon to develop a way for iPhone users to get access to Amazon's library of e-books, it appeared the company was ceding the mobile computing e-book market to Amazon. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has dismissed the e-book reader and market in general, declaring in 2008 that "people don't read anymore." However, Jobs is notorious for dismissing a new product or concept right up until the day Apple ships a similar product.

Apple has also been rumored to be jockeying to get a variety of media on the device, including TV shows, magazines, newspapers, music, games, and video. Publishers such as The New York Times Co., Conde Nast Publications, and HarperCollins Publishers have reportedly been approached over content deals, as well as TV networks such as CBS and Walt Disney over monthly subscription deals for the device, which is expected to be unveiled at an event Wednesday in San Francisco.

However, at least one books publisher isn't likely to be very welcome at the event. Terry McGraw, CEO of McGraw-Hill apparently jumped the gun a bit during a CNBC interview, confirming that a device would be revealed Wednesday and that college textbooks would make an appearance on it. He also revealed that the device would be based on the iPhone operating system--the first named source offering actual confirmation of the operating system and specific content for the device.