NEW YORK — As the publishing industry wrapped up four days of digital talk at its annual national convention, Amazon.com’s Kindle was seen as the clear, if not dominant, player in the growing e-market; Barnes & Noble’s Nook was considered a pleasant surprise, and Apple’s iPad an underachiever.
More than 20 million iPads and iPad 2s have been sold over the past year, and the iBookstore is also available on more than 160 million additional devices through the iPhone and iPod. But publishers and agents say Apple is not yet the balance to Amazon.com for which they had hoped. They estimate that Apple sales are around 10 percent of the e-market, far behind the believed 60 percent to 65 percent for Amazon. Publishers and agents say e-books are at least 15 percent to 20 percent of overall sales, more than double from just a year ago.
Apple spokesman Jason Roth declined to comment on any specific criticisms, but did say that the iBookstore had over 150,000 titles — an Amazon spokesman says the the Kindle store has more than 950,000 — and that more than 100 million books had been downloaded worldwide through the iBookstore. He would not say how many were downloads of free books. Selections at the iBookstore were greatly improved this year when Random House Inc., publisher of Stieg Larsson and John Grisham among others, agreed to sell through Apple after resolving differences over pricing.
Brian Murray, CEO of HarperCollins Publishers, said iBookstore sales were “a little smaller than expected,” but he praised the iPad as a multimedia breakthrough that enabled publishers to sell e-picture books and “enhanced” e-books that include video and sound.