Summary:

A new year, and a crisp, new Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) rumor to kick things off: the company is reportedly planning an event for the end of the mon…

Apple iBookstore

A new year, and a crisp, new Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) rumor to kick things off: the company is reportedly planning an event for the end of the month in New York, with speculation that it could have something to do with advertising or publishing news — but not the launch of a new device.

Reports of the event were first published in AllThingsD, which describes it as a “media-related event,” citing unnamed sources.

The report notes that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, will be leading the event. Cue oversees the iTunes Store, the App Store, Apple’s iBookstore, iAd and Apple’s iCloud service — and that has led to speculation that this event could be related to something within his remit, specifically around iAd or Apple’s publishing activities.

In the past few weeks, there have been plenty of rumors of new Apple products, ranging from a new Apple TV service / device; to a new version of its flagship mobile products, the iPad and iPhone. But in the past, big hardware launches have taken place closer to Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California.

Meanwhile, iAd, Apple’s advertising platform, is due for some renewed attention. It has had some teething problems since launching in July 2010: it has reportedly needed to reduce the prices it asks of advertisers to buy into using the platform, and some have complained about the level of control it wants to wield on ads that run via iAd. It has also seen some high-level executive departures, such as that of Andy Miller.

iBookstore. But more than these two areas, since the first report was posted at AllThingsD, further elaboration has slanted the event more in favor of publishing rather than advertising. TechCrunch, citing its own source, notes the event will be specifically related to ebooks and updates to Apple’s iBookstore platform.

And even more specifically, the Good E-Reader blog claims that, in fact, the event will signal Apple’s move into self-publishing on the iBookstore. The move, to compete with self-publishing offerings from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), will give writers the option to publish work directly on Apple’s platform without having to go through a publisher or other third-party provider like Smashwords to do it.

Booksellers/device-makers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are not the only ones that could compete with Apple in this space: Facebook itself also made its own move of sorts into publishing last summer when it acquired Push Pop Press.

If the self-publishing product turns out to be a reality, some of the big questions will be what kinds of terms Apple dictates to writers, from commissions to exclusivity on the content. All surely to be debated increasingly in the weeks to come.

We have contacted Apple for further information and will update the story as we learn more.

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