Guess Who’s Coming To BookExpo America This Year? Apple

UPDATE: When we reported this story earlier, a spokesperson for the BEA told us, in speaking about Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), that “they have not exhibited at BEA previously. This is their first time.” And Apple continues to be listed as an “exhibitor” on BEA’s site. But the same BEA spokesperson emailed us again three hours after our story hit the site to say that Apple won’t, in fact, be “exhibiting” at the event this year, but instead will be meeting with publishers in a private room at the venue. Since our post was published earlier this afternoon, mention on the BEA site of the iBookstore and Scott Simpson as representing Apple at the event have been removed.
Apple, which almost never appears at industry conferences unless it is doing the hosting, will exhibit participate this year in BookExpo America, the largest trade book fair in the United States. The company has a large private room booth in a prime location, next door to Scholastic and in the same area as major publishers including Random House, Disney (NYSE: DIS) Book Group and Macmillan. When you click on Apple on the BEA site, it says “Private Meeting Room: Publishers, please contact us to reserve a meeting time.”
Apple launched the iBookstore in April 2010. In March 2011, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that 100 million books had been downloaded through the iBookstore between its launch and February 2011. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) doesn’t release its download numbers, but it is widely believed to have a sizeable lead over Apple, based in part on sales figures reported by publishers. This February, Bloomberg cited a Goldman Sachs report that said had 58 percent of e-book sales, followed by Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) at 27 percent, Apple at 9 percent and Borders/Kobo at 7 percent.
Thanks to Nate Hoffeider at The Digital Reader for the tip about Apple’s appearance this year. It’s not immediately clear what Apple has in store for BEA. Its attendance doesn’t appear to be linked to any device announcement or software upgrade. If Apple had any presence at BEA last year, that fact wasn’t noted on the floor plan or in the exhibitor list on BEA’s site last year, the way it is this year.
Apple, which usually lets its products and sales figures do the talking, may simply believe that it needs a public appearance at a major book industry conference to reinforce the fact that it’s a big player in this space. BEA had almost 22,000 attendees last year (and more than 8,000 exhibitors), so Apple’s booth is likely to get plenty of attention. We’ve got a call out to Apple and will update if we hear back from them about their plans., meanwhile, , too, is exhibiting at BEA this year, though it didn’t last year. As of a month ago, while Amazon was included on BEA’s official exhibitor list (PDF), Apple wasn’t, suggesting that its decision to participate exhibit happened late in the game.