HarperCollins Publishers is negotiating with Apple Inc. to make electronic books available for the introduction of a new tablet device from Apple, according to people familiar with the situation, posing a challenge to Amazon.com, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
HarperCollins is expected to set the prices of the e-books, which would have added features, with Apple taking a percentage of sales. Details haven't been ironed out.
It couldn't be learned whether Apple will sell the HarperCollins titles via a new e-book store or through its existing iTunes Store, which sells music, television shows and movies. Other publishers also have met with Apple, people familiar with the matter said. Apple declined to comment.
Apple on Monday invited reporters to a San Francisco event on Jan. 27 at which it is expected to unveil its tablet. As is typical with Apple, the emailed invitation was short on detail. "Come see our latest creation," the message said, below splotches of bright-colored paint surrounding a white Apple logo. But people briefed by the company have said Apple plans to introduce a multimedia tablet that it plans to ship in March.
Brian Murray, the chief executive of HarperCollins, said in December that e-books enhanced with video, author interviews and social-networking applications could command higher retail prices for publishers than current e-books. Many of the country's largest publishing houses are worried about the sale of new bestsellers for only $9.99 in the e-book format.
New releases of enhanced e-books could sell for $14.99 to $19.99, a person familiar with the situation said. HarperCollins is a unit of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal and NewsCore.
The HarperCollins negotiations with Apple represent a direct challenge to Amazon, which dominates the fast-growing e-book market.