As had been announced and all but pre-ordained, Apple today staged a big media event in San Jose to introduce a whole slew of new products. From a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display to a new Mac Mini to a new and improved iMac to a new, "twice-as-fast" fourth-generation iPad (much to the chagrin of everyone who went in on the third-gen iPad a few months ago—such is life in the Applesphere), there was a whole lotta newer, better, faster, smaller flying around courtesy of Tim Cook and his cronies.
But tellingly, the event was, ahem, bookended by two announcements of particular interest to publishers: First, there's a new version of iBooks, Apple's ebook app, which offers a continuous scrolling option (in addition to page turning), better iCloud integration and support for more languages. And last: There will be a smaller iPad, the iPad Mini, that seems perfectly poised to go up against both Google's well-received Nexus 7 tablet, and Amazon's Kindle Fire—in some ways.
With its 7.9-inch screen (measured diagonally, and featuring the same proportions and resolution of other iOS6 devices), the Mini will offer a not insignificant square-inch advantage over its 7-inch counterparts. Of course, starting at $329 (quite a bit more expensive than the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7), iPad Mini is not cheap for this category. One could argue that the price signifies that the Mini is not in this category at all; Apple's attitude toward smaller, budget-priced tablets has been of one of almost sneering disdain. Put another way: Apple is not competing with Google and Amazon on price, which fits with Apple's m.o.
Unlike last year, when Apple did not announce a new tablet in the run-up to the holiday device-buying bonanza, this year, with the iPad Mini squarely in the gadgets-people-read-books-on fray, things should be even curiouser for ebook watchers.