Despite the fact that Australia's iPad launch next month won't actually involve the launch of an Australian iBooks bookstore, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to read books on your iPad. In fact, if you look at the current crop of eBook applications on the iPhone, the iPad has the potential to let you get the best possible price for every book you want to buy.
We already know from the iPad's launch that the tablet will use the ePub format for eBooks, meaning that you should be able to copy a whole range of DRM-free eBooks over to the device. But even if that poses a problem, the fact that the iPad will support almost all of the current iPhone apps means that getting books onto your iPad will still be easy. Whether it's via Amazon, Kobo or Random House, there are already plenty of options to read books on your iPhone, so that should naturally translate across to the bigger device.
Here's a look at some of the bigger eBook names on the App Store today: Kobo: Kobo is the platform of choice for Borders and Angus & Robertson to sell eBooks in Australia, but despite the fact they haven't decided on local pricing, you can already pick up books through the Kobo iPhone app. Sure, they're charged in US dollars, but the pricing is pretty consistent with Amazon and almost certainly significantly better than the RRP for the paper version.
There's a huge selection of books available, and the UI is pretty swish. On the larger screen of the iPad, Kobo could really offer something special - although the need to go into Safari to purchase a book is less than ideal.
Amazon Kindle: Even though the iPad is looking to destroy the very memory of the Kindle with its release, Amazon's decision to allow users to read Kindle books on the iPhone could still mean they'll get a slice of Apple's eBook pie.
At last count there are over 300,000 books on the Kindle Store for Australians. You pay in US dollars, which can be a hassle, and finding new books is done through the web browser rather than in-app, but the price is definitely right.
Random House: Rather than have a dedicated eBook app on the App Store, Random House has stuck with its role as publisher, instead pushing out individual books as apps. At the moment there are only 14 different books available to Australians, ranging from free to $30. It's a more expensive option, sure, but you can pay directly through your iTunes account, which saves the hassle of needing to give your credit card details to another online bookstore.
But what makes the fact that these eBook apps are already available is the fact that you can price shop, direct from your iPad (or iPhone). You'll be able to find out which store has the best price, even after Apple launches the iBooks app in Australia.
Sure, this does nothing to help you if you can't stand the thought of reading from an LCD, but at least you can purchase the new tablet knowing that you can actually use it to read books in some way, shape or form.
*Note - there are plenty of other ebook readers available on the iPhone, but many of them are regionally restricted or don't have the same libraries as Amazon or Kobo.