Apple has launched a new section at iBooks called Breakout Books to promote independent, self-published authors. The section exclusively lists self-published books, but only those books that are climbing the charts as opposed to all self-published books on iBooks.
Apple's description of the section reads:
Find the next reading sensation with this hand-picked collection of books from emerging talents. All are independently published and have earned high ratings from customer like you. Check back regularly, new titles are added as they begin taking off.
Breakout Books is broken down into Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mysteries & Thrillers, and More to Explore. Each category has up to 20 books for a total of 64 books being listed as of this writing.
Apple has been selling self-published books for a while, but most of them go through third party aggregator services like SmashWords, Lulu, Ingram, INscribe Digital. In Europe, Apple works with Bookwire and Immatériel.
Similar to TuneCore on the music side, SmashWords serves as a one-stop shop for independent writers, putting their works on iTunes in multiple markets, Amazon, their own book stores, and numerous other ereader book stores.
While Apple allows independent authors, Amazon has bent over backwards to make it easy for authors to self-publish. In this regards, Apple is playing catchup to Amazon, but the new section gives those authors a very valuable promotional tool, at least those who can hit whatever criteria Apple is using to determine who qualifies.