The frenzy this week in anticipation of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of iPads (s aapl) is as expected. Countless individuals are checking the delivery status of their iPad(s) and wishing it would “just get here already.” There hype is in overdrive, and it’s close to the time where we see if it’s justified or not. One of the questions being asked is how Apple will impact the e-book game with its iBooks app and iBookstore. I believe both will have a huge impact, but not just for Apple’s own retail operation. The iPad will be the only universal e-book reader — able to buy and access paid content from all the major e-book sellers.
Amazon (s amzn) set the stage for iPad dominance in the e-book world with the Kindle for iPhone app. It allows customers to browse the Amazon Kindle bookstore, buy books and then read them on the phone. Those who use Kindle for iPhone praise the ability to read Kindle books without Kindle hardware. It’s good for Amazon, as it is in the business of selling books, and even though Amazon would like to sell you a Kindle reader, it’s happy selling you books.
This is going to ramp up when the iPad hits consumer hands, and the Kindle for iPad app becomes available. The iPad will be a far better e-book reader than the iPhone, and even owners who’ve shied away from reading on the iPhone are going to give the iPad a try. They will discover that the iPad is a very good e-book reader, and they’ll happily buy Kindle books for the iPad.
The same is going to happen with Barnes & Noble (s bks), as it is in the same position as Amazon. Its reader app also allows iPhone owners to give e-book reading a try. B&N is going to produce an iPad reader version, and I expect it will sell quite a few books on the slate. That’s good for iPad owners, and good for the bookseller too. The folks at Kobo will have an iPad reader like the others. Kobo is the operation running the online bookstore for Borders (s bgp), and will power other bookstores too. Its iPad reader will support shopping for books along and reading them, too.
The bottom line is the iPad is going to have a tremendous impact on the e-book business, no matter what the iBookstore does. Dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle and Nook can only buy books from the seller’s own store. Owners of the iPad will be able to shop at all of the major online e-book retailers. The iPad will be the only universal e-book reader that can handle paid content from just about anywhere, and that will be a game changer.
Images courtesy of Apple.
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