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Apple iBookstore Pricing Leaked, With Bad News For Amazon

Screenshots allegedly of Apple's iBookstore contain pricing info suggesting Apple has reached an agreeable deal with publishers and is poised to challenge Amazon in a big way.

Thanks to a screenshot rapidly making its way around the blogosphere, it appears Apple and the iBookstore are getting ready to price some bestselling books at $9.99, which if true suggests Apple holds more sway over publishers with iBookstore than previously thought.

The Apple-centric blog AppAdvice posted a photo earlier this week purporting to be a screenshot from the Apple iBookstore and showing several bestselling books priced at $9.99. If the pricing for iBookstore is legitimate, it means Apple has been able to match or approximate Amazon's Kindle price points -- at least for bestsellers -- and offer publishers a sweeter deal than Amazon does.

Unlike Amazon, which insists on setting pricing, Apple allows publishers to set their own prices for books, and keeps 30 percent of revenues for itself. It appears, therefore, that Apple was able to convince publishers to match Kindle pricing for books sold in iBookstore.

"The deal, despite Steve Jobs clearly stating the opposite, is believed to result with iPad eBooks being more expensive than their Kindle equivalent," wrote blogger Alexander Vaughn, suggesting that because Apple's terms are kinder to publishers, it would have to price books higher to make up the difference. "Well folks, we found out that's not the case."

At the iPad's unveiling on Jan. 27, Apple said it already had deals in place with some of the top publishers, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Penguin Books. Amazon last month was forced to yield to Macmillan, which insisted on raising its prices on some content and lead to a dustup between the two companies that saw Macmillan content briefly removed from Amazon's retail operations.

Apple's iPad, which is set to arrive April 3 in the U.S., is seen as the most compelling challenger yet to Amazon's dominance with Kindle. Amazon exited 2009 with a 60 percent market share of e-readers in the U.S., according to Forrester, but Apple has positioned iPad as an all-in-one tablet, in that it can operate as dedicated e-readers but performs plenty of other functions, too.

According to reports, early demand for iPad has been strong, at least in pre-orders. In addition, a number of publishers are already said to be in high-priced advertising deals for iPad-formatted versions of their publications.

Amazon, for its part, has worked to ensure the Kindle brand stays buoyant even amid the excitement leading up to the official iPad launch. Earlier this month, Amazon released Kindle for Mac, a complement to its Kindle for iPhone app, and has hinted about Kindle-specific software for the iPad.

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