What's the Latest Development?

Starting today, Apple's iBookstore has a new feature called "Breakout Books" in which it displays a selection of popular titles on its front page. For the next two weeks at least, the section will enjoy prominence of place, after which it will move to a less-obvious but still-visible location. Seventy titles are highlighted, most of them from digital books distributor Smashwords; company founder Mark Coker says that the Breakout Books section "is helping [Apple] to shape a brighter, more democratized future for book publishing."

What's the Big Idea?

Like its online bookselling competitor Amazon, Apple has always offered self-published authors the opportunity to sell their books through iBookstore. Coker says that Smashwords books "were nominated to Apple’s editorial team, which has final say on the selections, based on criteria including sales performance and reader reviews." A quick look at the new feature in iTunes shows titles grouped under four categories: Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mysteries & Thrillers, and a catch-all titled "More to Explore." Most prices range from free to $2.99.

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Read it at The New York Times