Apple’s iPad released today in major book markets included UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Germany–plus France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Though the UK iBookstore launch was preceded by worried speculation that UK publishers were concerned aspects of Apple’s contract might run afoul of local pricing laws, lo and behold, Ye Agency Foure (Hachette UK, Penguin, Pan Macmillan and Harper UK) are all participating. (The smallest of the group, Simon & Schuster UK, is not currently participating and has yet to comment.) But no other UK publishers are known to have a direct relationship with Apple yet, and again Random UK is sitting on the sidelines.
According to screen captures, prices reflect the same overall higher price level of books in the UK. The price points are familiar–11.99 (David Mitchell’s latest); 13.99 (a Bernard Cornwell release); 9.99 (a Tony Parsons title)–but in pounds instead of dollars, that means the titles are roughly 50 percent more than US customers enjoy.
In concert with Apple’s launch, the Kindle iPad app is available in all of the launch countries (though the release does not indicate how many titles are available in the respective territories), as is Kobo’s iPad app. Kobo indicates they have regional versions of their store live in the UK, Canada and Australia (with New Zealand coming soon) offering “local content, merchandising, and currency.” As one article points out, the international version of Kindle have some points of resistance since they sell books priced in US dollars and they charge extra for the wireless “delivery” of the books. Presumably the international version of Kindle’s app use the Safari browser to send customers to their home-country version of Amazon’s store, though.
Of course it’s open to interpretation, but our hunch is that today’s global iPad launch, coupled with the rollout of iBooks onto the iPhone operating system this summer, will mark the mark the ramp-up of the adoption of ereading in scale from the US to the world.
Following the opportunity or under competitive pressure, depending upon how you choose to view it, Sony announced earlier this week that it will expand sales of its Reader devices to Japan, China, Australia, Spain, and Italy later this year, with launch dates still to come. President of Sony Electronics’ Digital Reading Business Division Steve Haber says in the release, “we’ve hit a global tipping point in digital reading with demand for and sales of the Reader dramatically increasing in 2009. Sony’s strategy has always been to make the Reader a global product, and we’ll take a thoughtful approach to country expansion that will consider not just the hardware experience within these new countries but the content experience as well.”
And still on the subject of ereader rollouts, Kindle’s pilot program to sell their device through about 100 Target stores in the US will expand dramatically as of June 6. Target spokesman Joshua Thomas says they will have Kindles for sale in all 1,740 Target stores. Company evp of merchandising Kathryn Tesija says Kindle “practically flew off the shelves during our 100-store test.”
Bloomberg on Kindle expansion