iTunes launches Breakout Books section to highlight self-published titles

Amazon (s AMZN) intensely promotes self-published Kindle books, and now Apple (s AAPL) is taking steps toward doing the same thing. The company has launched a new section of the iBookstore, “Breakout Books,” a “hand-picked collection of books from emerging talents…independently published to the iBookstore.” New books will be added “as they begin taking off.”
Apple had previously launched Breakout Books sections in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.K. The section focuses primarily on genre fiction, with sections for romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and mystery/thriller.
While Apple mentions “hand-picking,” the books in the section primarily seem to be chosen based on how well they are selling. In a very long blog post about the benefits of self-publishing, Mark Coker, the founder of self-publishing company Smashwords, notes that 54 of the 64 titles in the Breakout Books section were distributed by Smashwords. He’d previously noted that Apple is now the largest retailer for Smashwords authors. (Smashwords does not distribute books to Kindle.)