Australia may get iBooks on the iPad

Apple job posting hints at iBook availability in Australia

Apple is looking to bring its recently announced iBooks platform to Australia, according to a job posting on Apple's employment site.

The posting, first noticed by Apple rumours and tutorials site iClarified, calls for a manager with extensive experience in both publishing and online media. They require a strong understanding of relevant publishing industries and trends and existing publishing industry and business contacts. The successful applicant would work with Apple both locally and at the company's Cupertino headquarters in developing strategies and priorities for the release of iBooks in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and countries in Asia and the Pacific.

According to the job posting, "the iBooks Manager will be the primary person responsible for building the book business in Asia Pacific and Canada and will be the primary account manager for regional content providers."

Applicants will be "measured according to his/her ability to establish a strong content offering for the local market to attract new customers and generate sales."

An Apple spokesperson did not return comment at time of writing.

Apple announced its eBooks platform alongside its iPad tablet. The eBooks are based on the open-source ePub format, and will be available through the iBookstore in the iBooks app on the iPad. Apple's iPad keynote shows that some books will be available for free, though CEO Steve Jobs has said that book prices will cost an average US$12.99-$14.99. The US iBookstore will host books from a range of publishers, including Penguin, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Hachette.

Apple is yet to confirm the availability of iBooks in Australia. As of writing, the Australian iPad page on Apple's Web site does not list the iBookstore as a feature, though the US equivalent does.

Victoria Nash, head of digital media for Pan Macmillan Australia, told GoodGearGuide that the company would "definitely want to be involved" with Apple's iBookstore once it reaches Australia, but that the Australian branch would need to sign an agreement independently of its parent company in the US.

Nash said that eBooks are "another channel to readers" and that "we need to get our author's books to our readers in any way they want."

If the iBookstore does reach Australia, Nash said that Pan Macmillan Australia's offerings would be slightly cheaper than the print edition, but couldn't give definite pricing due to the relative immaturity of Australia's eBooks market. However, Pan Macmillan Australia won't support the $9.99 base price currently pushed for eBooks by Amazon in its Kindle Store. Nash said the price was a loss leader that didn't support authors' work. "At the end of the day, we're about making money for our authors and ourselves," Nash said.

Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed the eBook pricing issue in a blog post this week. In the post, Sargent said that the US$12.99 to $14.99 price range spruiked by Apple at the iPad launch was already a "tremendous discount" on the prices of equivalent print editions. Sargent also said that the company will still offer a wide range of books under the US$9.99 price point once a paperback edition is released.

The iPad will be released globally this month. Apple is yet to confirm local pricing for the tablet.

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James Hutchinson

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