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HarperCollins lined up to sell e-books for the Apple Tablet

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To be clear, the Apple Tablet has not yet arrived. Apple hasn't even confirmed the Tablet exists.

But that hasn't stopped bloggers and tech analysts from slinging rumors on the gadget. New York magazine reported that the New York Times was lined up to provide NYTimes.com content on the Tablet. Now, the Wall Street Journal is dishing on a potential partnership between Apple and HarperCollins, a book publisher owned by News Corp.

As the WSJ notes, HarperCollins, which has been affected by a nationwide slump in books sales, sees a kind of salvation in e-book technology:

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.

If the WSJ report is accurate, the Apple-HarperCollins partnership would threaten the stranglehold Amazon has on the e-book market. In one scenario, Apple would sell e-books directly through the iTunes store, in the same way it now sells movies and television shows. Just as iTunes has helped streamlined the record industry, a point-and-click books section on iTunes could conceivably help spur on book sales.

Although e-book sales remain a minuscule part of the publishing industry – just 1.4 percent of the total $10.9 billion sales in the first nine months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers – most industry experts expect e-book sales to soar in coming months. If Apple positions itself correctly, it could be on the forefront of the e-book boom.

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