International users may need to wait for iBooks

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The Independent Culture

When it unveiled its much-hyped iPad on January 26, Apple also announced iBooks, an attractive e-reader application designed specifically for the new device. However, only a US launch of the iBooks has so far been announced, and international users will likely need to wait before they can try out the app.

Apple's iBooks includes an iBookstore that will carry titles by major publishers HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group when the app launches in the US. Apple says the store will ultimately feature books from both major and independent publishers. "We're going to open the flood gates for the rest of the publishers in the world starting this afternoon," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs during his iPad presentation.

According to an Apple press release, the iBookstore will be available in the US when the iPad launches in late March. International availability, however, has yet to be announced.

The delayed launch is most likely due to the complicated process of making deals with international publishers. Amazon took nearly two year to make its Kindle e-books available internationally, and Apple's iTunes Store took more than a year after its US debut to see its first international launches, with some countries waiting as much as two and a half years.

The iBooks application, which runs on the open ePub book format, has a setup similar to the iTunes Store. Based no a demo of the application, it appears iBooks titles for US users will cost between $7.99 and 14.99.

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