Apple Unlikely to Directly Enter e-Book Market?

Silicon Alley Insider reports that Apple is unlikely to create its own "iTunes for e-books" and will instead rely on third parties to deliver e-book content through the existing App Store. An e-book industry source has reportedly indicated that while Apple had contemplated directly offering e-book content several years ago, the plans were scrapped once the company fully grasped how difficult the industry is to navigate.

- The e-book market is still rather small, and even if Apple's tablet is a huge hit, it'll be hard to make enough revenue selling e-books to make the huge project -- setting up and running an e-book store -- worthwhile.
- Apple's iTunes music, video, and apps stores are designed as break-even businesses to help sell more Apple hardware, like iPhones, iPods, and Macs.
- There's already a ton of e-book vendors in the App Store that could provide a good-enough e-book shopping and reading experience to fulfill the "help sell more Apple hardware" mission. Better ones are showing up all the time.
- E-book stores that use Apple's iTunes e-commerce platform -- or are standalone e-book apps -- generate a very nice 30% revenue cut for Apple. The company probably wouldn't get enough additional revenue selling e-books on its own to be worthwhile.

Speculation regarding Apple's role in e-book offerings for its much-rumored tablet computer was renewed by a recent Financial Times report that cited interest in the new device on the part of e-book publishers. Rumors of Apple collecting book manuscripts for publication surfaced in mid-2006 as details of what ultimately became the iPod touch were circulating, although no Apple e-book offerings were ever released.