One of the interesting things about Apple’s foray into mass media is that it has successfully become a mass media giant without making media a major profit center. If you read analysis of Apple’s earnings reports you won’t see much dwelling on how many music tracks Apple sold.
So, today I read this article in Wired about a DIY book scanner built for $300 in parts. The thing that really caught my eye in the article though was that apparently you can buy a commercial book scanner for around $5000.
If we assume Apple’s business model for books will be to sell them at break even with as little copy-protection as possible (i.e. it’s movie and music model) then this means when and if Apple’s \w+ finally comes out it will have a major advantage competing against Amazon which makes money on razor blades, not handles. (Forgetting any other differences, such as the Apple product’s almost inevitably better design.)
It wouldn’t be too hard for Apple to offer, or encourage third parties to offer, a book scanner for iTunes (if it’s still called iTunes) to allow users to rip their existing libraries. It’s a killer application — I for one would rather rip my library than move it. Heck, I’d probably rather build a scanner and rip my library than move it.