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Underbelly “app” for iPhone first shot in new publishing wars?

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Australian publisher Allen & Unwin, in partnership with Underbelly authors Andrew Rule and John Silvester, this week launched digital versions of the three bestselling books of the series.

The Golden Mile, which is currently running on the Nine Network as a television series, is now available to iPhone users as a full edition eBook priced at $14.99, as well as a “free trial app (or ‘Lite’ version)” containing four chapters from the book.

According to a media release from Allen & Unwin, the other two books in the series (The Gangland War and A Tale of Two Cities) will follow soon as “iPhone apps”.

Allen & Unwin’s Digital Publishing Director, Elizabeth Weiss, said of the launch:

‘Allen & Unwin has established itself as a leader in Australian digital publishing, with 1500 ebooks available through a range of outlets.

This will be the first Australian bestselling narrative to be made available as an iPhone app.

Book buyers can now catch up on the intriguing stories behind some of Australia’s most notorious crimes, wherever they are, whatever they are doing, whether it be on the bus, waiting for the doctor or in a café!’

While the announcement might not reflect consumer expectations regarding the meaning of “apps” versus “eBooks”, it does clearly represent a pre-emptive step toward preparing Allen & Unwin products for life in an iPad enabled world, which is likely to further blur the lines between these and other forms of rich content.

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