iPad hits the 2-million sales mark

In less than 60 days, Apple has sold 2 million iPad tablets. What does that mean to the book world?

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    Customers wait online in Vancouver as iPads go on sale in Canada.
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Critics have described it as a device that no one really needs. But customers apparently disagree. Less than two months after its launch, Apple now says it has sold 2 million of its iPad tablets.

As Apple moves forward with its global rollout of the new product (it went on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on May 28 and is scheduled to arrive in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore in July), PCWorld calculates that Apple is on target to sell 7.6 million iPads this year.

Certainly the product's reception overseas should be encouraging to Apple. This weekend The New York Times published photos of European and Japanese consumers standing (or sleeping) in line in eager anticipation of the purchase of an iPad.

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Meanwhile, book publishers and sellers remain uncertain as to what the iPad's popularity will mean to them. Last week Apple also rolled out a new service for authors that will allow them to bypass publishers altogether in getting their books into the iBookstore.

"The iBookstore is what iTunes was to Music and Apps," enthuses MacLife. "A way to publish your own books and sell them without a publisher, agent, etc."

But are iPad customers focused on books? Not necessarily, reports The Bookseller. Two Bookseller correspondents stood in line with the crowd waiting to buy iPads outside the Westfield Shepherds Bush, UK, Apple store on the morning of May 28. They surveyed several of the 200 or so customers present and asked them if they planned to use their new iPads to read books.

Some said yes but others expressed little or no interest in using the device for book reading. "It does books?" asked one surprised iPad customer. "I'm thinking about movies, music, the web; something for the commute, really."

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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