The iPad in Europe (real live units)

The iPad is here, or more accurately it’s there (and there, there, there, there and there) which is closer to here than there or there or there but still not quite HERE.

Even more confusingly and anomalously, it IS available on the island of Ireland, from the Apple Store in Belfast and some Apple fans from the Republic of Ireland have been heading over the border to buy units.

UK, German and French book publishers have all provided content for the ipad and while there remain some grumbles about legality, the agency model for bookselling now seems to have passed it’s first challenge, actually existing.

The Bookseller, the UK book industry magazine, has pointed out that ebooks sold through the iBookstore and under agency pricing are available cheaper in print on and in digital form on the Kindle. They also seem to indicate that the Agency Model doesn’t apply to other ebooksellers!

I still find it strange that this new model has burst onto the scene in the UK with relatively little discussion from the industry or the wider public. It is almost as if the US has exported a model and we just have to live with it. Of course, there’s a chance the model is illegal in the US and I have my suspicions about how the degree of co-ordination and collaboration required and the EU’s competition rules will play together!

Of course, there is much more to the iPad than just the agency model and in encouraging news for publishers of all types PaidContent highlights the impressive sales The Times (which is beginning a crazy/brilliant experiment in paywalls this month) had for its iPad news app selling 5,000 copies in the first few days of the iPad’s availability.

There is so much more to figure out about how the iPad will impact on the European book publishing scene that it feels a little premature to make a prediction. One thing is clear though, this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair will be abuzz with information, statistics and details about digital book sales.

Roll on July when Ireland, along with Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Hong Kong, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore will see their own real live units of the iPad.

Bio: Eoin Purcell (@eoinpurcell) lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. He is a publishing industry analyst and commentator. He runs Green Lamp Media, a publishing and publishing services company. He also edits Irish Publishing News.

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