Steve Jobs: iBooks is already a big player in the digital book world

At Apple's WWDC 2010, Steve Jobs says iBook users have downloaded more than 5 million books.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Steve Jobs talks about the new 4G iPhone, which will allow enhanced use of the iBooks app.

iBooks may be a newcomer to the digital book marketplace, but don't make the mistake of treating the new app like a kid. According to some numbers released today by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2010, iBooks is already sporting a very adult profile.

According to Jobs, users of iBooks have downloaded more than 5 million titles in the 65 days that the iPad has been available. That means that about 2.5 books have been downloaded for each of the 2 million iPads sold. According to five of the six largest publishers in the US, iBooks now accounts for about 22 percent of their digital book sales.

And that percentage is only likely to increase. Jobs says that enhanced use of the iBooks app will be available on Apple's new 4G (fourth generation) iPhones as well as iPads.

Speaking at the WWDC 2010, Jobs announced several new features coming soon to iBooks. As of the end of this month, iBooks users will be able to highlight text, add bookmarks, and create notes. The updated iBooks will also support documents in PDF format.

In other words, iBooks will continue to grab a larger and larger share of the e-book market. What will that mean to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other serious contenders in the e-book world? Stay tuned and pay attention. There will be nothing sleepy about the pace at which this race will be run.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.

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