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Apple Debuts iPad

Apple's iPad, which debuted yesterday, looks like a large iPhone, is a half-inch thick, 1.5 pounds, and has a 9.7-inch multi-touch screen. The most basic model is $499 and has a Wi-Fi wireless connection. More expensive models will be offered with more memory and with 3G wireless access from ATT. The iPad has the same operating system as the iPhone and access to its 140,000 applications, including the iBook app, which will link to the iBookstore.

Steve Jobs classified the iPad, which will be on the market in March, as somewhere between laptop and smart phone, and called it ideal for web browsing and reading e-books.

The iPad and Kindle comparisons were immediate. The New York Times' tech reporter David Pogue said, "The iPad as an e-book reader is a no-brainer. It's just infinitely better-looking and more responsive than the Kindle, not to mention it has color and doesn't require external illumination." Apple e-books will be in the $15 range and publishers will have more power over setting prices.

Apple has established relationships with five major publishers, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan, and is looking to establish relationships with others, including textbook publishers. In a statement, Random House's Stuart Applebaum, said, "Random House welcomes Apple's iPad and iBooks app and we look forward to our continuing conversations with them about how we might best work together."

Literary Community Loses Salinger, Auchinloss, Zinn

J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye died on January 27. He was 91 and died from natural causes in his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, reported the Associated Press.

The Catcher in the Rye was Salinger's best-known work, and featured the angry, earnest teenage main character Holden Caulfield, who complained of all the "phonies," he saw in the adult world around him. After Catcher in the Rye, Salinger's works included Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.

Louis Auchincloss, author of more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction about old-guard, moneyed New York, died January 26. He was 92. The New York Times reported that he died of a stroke in Manhattan. Some of his best-known novels included The Rector of Justin, which was nominated for both a Pulitzer and a National Book Award, and East Side Story. Auchincloss knew his subject well, and was a patrician, native New Yorker who attended Groton and Yale, and left the law to write full time. In 2005 President George W. Bush presented him with the National Medal of Arts.

Historian Howard Zinn died on January 27 of a heart attack, reported the New York Times. Zinn was an author and professor emeritus in the Political Science Department at Boston University. He wrote more than 20 books, including the bestselling A People's History of the United States (HarperCollins), on which a series of books were based that he edited. Zinn was a lifelong civil rights and anti-war activist who urged people to recognize their inherent power and speak out against war and government exploitation.

Deadline Today for Objections to Revised Google Settlement

Today is the deadline set by Judge Denny Chin for objections to the revised Google Books settlement to be filed in the U.S. District Count of the Southern District.

Among those weighing in against the settlement, according to the Wall Street Journal, is Amazon, as well as a University of California - Berkeley professor on behalf of a group of academic authors. Among other things, Amazon's filing contends that the agreement between Google and the Association of American Publishers and the Author Guild violates the U.S. copyright law.

Google, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that the settlement "stands to unlock access to millions of books in the U.S. while giving authors and publishers new ways to distribute their work."

A fairness hearing on the settlement is scheduled for February 18.

Edelweiss & AAUP Partner to Bring Scholarly Catalogs Online

Above the Treeline has announced an agreement that will give members of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) discounted access to Edelweiss, its Internet-based service that supplements or replaces traditional print catalogs and mailings.

There are currently about 350 catalogs on Edelweiss from nearly 600 publishers and their imprints. University presses already utilizing Edelweiss include Cambridge, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, and Fordham.

In addition to discounted subscription rates, AAUP members will be able to upload their backlist titles for free for a limited time. Above the Treeline is returning a share of the revenue generated by AAUP members back to the organization.

A series of informational webinars will be offered to university presses in February.

TV Series Based on M.J. Rose's The Reincarnationist to Debut February 9

Past Life, a new series based on M.J. Rose's The Reincarnationist (MIRA) is scheduled to debut on the Fox network on February 9, following American Idol. An indie handselling favorite, The Reincarnationist appeared on both the September 2007 Book Sense Picks List and the 2007 year-end Book Sense Highlights. (The Book Sense Pick List is the predecessor to today's Indie Next List.)

Among the shows stars is Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler on NBC's The West Wing.

HarperCollins Launches Interactive Writing Platform for Teens

HarperCollins this week officially launched inkpop, an interactive writing platform for young readers and writers. The new platform, which was created by HarperTeen, features community publishing, user-generated content, and social networking.

The platform soft-launched in the last quarter of 2009 and already has more than 10,000 members from 109 different locations and territories.

NRF Forecasts Increase in Retail Sales for 2010

The National Retail Federation is projecting that retail industry sales for 2010 (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 2.5 percent over 2009. According to NRF's quarterly Retail Sales Outlook report, "influential economic indicators such as the housing market and employment are beginning to show positive signs, which will bolster consumer confidence throughout the year." In 2009, total industry retail sales declined 2.5 percent.

"While we still expect shoppers to continue to be frugal with their discretionary spending, retailers will soon be able to reap the benefits of leaner, smarter inventories and a year and a half of pent up consumer demand," said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells, adding that consumer spending will expand at a modest rate of about 2.0 - 2.5 percent.