Apple iBookstore Adding More Picture Books, Canadian Content

Apple’s iBookstore (s aapl) for iOS devices is getting an influx of new content. There’s a major injection of illustrated titles set to arrive today, Dec. 15, according to the New York Times(s nyt), and the Canadian government has just given Apple the green light to sell Canadian content through the digital bookstore.

Apple’s plans for expanding its picture book selection includes adding over 100 such titles to the iBookstore sometime today. The NYT cites Apple itself as the source of the information, and publisher Simon & Schuster confirms its titles will be among those available. Children’s books, photography books and cookbooks make up the bulk of the new selections.

Specific titles include the Olivia series of children’s books; In the National Parks, a photo book by Ansel Adams; and Beginnings by Anne Geddes (you know, the babies-as-other-things woman). Some titles are exclusive to Apple, and some have unique features –like uninterrupted, two-page layouts — that no other e-book store will be able to offer.

The iBookstore has been around since April 2010, so why are these books only coming now to the platform? Apparently, converting picture-rich titles to e-book format isn’t easy. Authors of illustrated books are more picky about what the finished product looks like, and creating a faithful representation that satisfies everyone involved has been difficult for publishers.

In other iBookstore news,  the Canadian government granted Apple the right to operate iBookstore Canada yesterday. The Canadian Heritage and Official Languages ministry has to review and approve new businesses that could potentially have an impact on Canadian culture. Amazon (s amzn) went through the same process very recently when it wanted to expand its operations north of the border. Apple successfully assured the government that it would use iBookstore Canada to promote Canadian authors, publishers and content.

Until now, the iBookstore was available to Canadian users, without Canadian works. Now, if you happen to have access to a Canadian iTunes account, you’ll notice that the iBookstore landing page is virtually flooded with all things great white north.

Apple’s presence in the e-book market is much stronger as a hardware-maker than as a seller of content. Many authors note that they don’t have nearly as many sales through iBooks as they do through Amazon’s Kindle store, and even through the much less popular Barnes & Noble (s bks) and Sony (s sne) e-book marketplaces. Broader content libraries will help Apple be more competitive, especially if that content emphasizes Apple’s device advantage. Apple needs to stand out in an increasingly crowded e-book storefront market, and being the best at picture books is one way to do that.

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