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Social Mag Flipboard Takes Readers on an iBookstore Tour

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 16, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Flipboard, an iOS app that turns social media feeds into personalized magazine-like pages, added books to its repertoire Thursday by integrating with Apple's iBookstore.

Flipboard's books section
Books are now available on Flipboard.
(click image to enlarge)

Social Mag Flipboard Takes Readers on an iBookstore Tour

Users of the app for the iPhone and iPad will find a new books section on the software's content page.

The section is organized into 24 categories, such as arts and entertainment, comics and graphic novels, history, mysteries and thrillers, reference, sci-fi and fantasy, and sports and outdoors.

Inside each section are blurbs about books that Flipboard recommends, laid out like magazine pages. When users tap a book blurb, they're taken to Apple's iBookstore, where they can purchase an electronic version of the volume.

Flipboard's Cut

"Buying a book is simple, but finding a book that interests you is hard," said Flipboard's head of publisher partnerships, Christina Mace-Turner. "There are so many great books out there waiting to be discovered. By surfacing books available on the iBookstore on Flipboard, readers will encounter great books naturally, alongside the kinds of content they're already reading about, so they can explore popular books as well as discover the many thousands of amazing books in the long tail."

In addition to providing a discovery platform for readers, Flipboard, as a member of Apple's iBookstore Affilate network, receives a 5 percent cut on every book its helps sell at Apple's online shop.

"While it does generate revenue, we are focused on advertising as the main source of revenue," Flipboard spokesperson Christel van der Boom told MacNewsWorld.

App Store Next?

Although it's unlikely that Flipboard will bring other bookstores into its mix, it could branch out into other areas of Apple's online retail realm. "We're really focused on Apple now," van der Boom said.

"Maybe we could make the App Store available in a similar way," she said. "That would be very cool."

Apple, too, should benefit from the latest move by Flipboard, which will be exposing the iBookstore to app's 20 million users who share 3 billion items a month.

In addition, the book section will be rolled out in 25 customized and localized sections in 10 countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Having the iBookstore integrated into Flipboard gives Apple another selling point-- albeit at a small one -- for its tablet line, according to Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. "It's one thing the iPad now has that the other tablets don't have," he told MacNewsWorld.

Flipboard makes a version of its app for Android devices, but that version won't be supporting the bookstore feature for now.

Superficial Search

Flipboard's book feature will give Apple another weapon in its battle with Amazon for a larger share of the e-book market, Ben Bajarin, principal at Creative Strategies, told MacNewsWorld. "Any way Apple can get people to look and discover and buy books from its bookstore is beneficial to Apple. It's a new way to discover books in a comfortable way."

As a search mechanism, though, Flipboard has some shortcomings, he noted. Its searches are superficial and lack depth, he asserted. Nevertheless, "it's a way to get people into the iBookstore."

That lack of search depth could also make Flipboard less useful should it decide to plug into the iTunes music store, Bajarin maintained. "There are no social filters built into it right now." Examples might include "what are my friends listening to right now?" and "who's recommending what?"

"It filters were built into it, it would be a little more interesting," Bajarin said.

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