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Apple releases iBooks 3, expands to more countries

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At Tuesday’s iPad mini event in San Francisco, Apple (s AAPL) announced an update to iBooks, its ebook reading platform. The company is also reportedly expanding the iBookstore to 18 more countries in Latin America, including Brazil, as well as New Zealand. That makes the iBookstore available in a total of 50 countries.

Overall, the iBookstore contains 1.5 million books that have been downloaded 400 million times so far, Apple CEO Tim Cook said. The main changes to iBooks — which isn’t updated in the iTunes Store as of this writing, but will be today — are a continuous scrolling option for ebooks (so you can just flick instead of turning virtual pages — a feature readers may or may not care about) and better integration with iCloud so that ebooks sync across devices. You can tap to share a passage on Facebook (s FB) or Twitter. The company also added support for Korean, Chinese and Japanese, bringing the total number of languages supported to over 40, according to Cook.

In addition, Apple’s self-publishing platform iBooks Author, which lets users create graphics-rich ebooks (like textbooks) for iPad, is being updated. It gets new templates, the option to create portrait-only (as opposed to landscape) books and other customization options.