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Apple making last-minute tablet content deals for trade, education books

Just days before Apple is expected to introduce its multimedia touchscreen tablet, the company is said to be in negotiations with a variety of companies for content. The latest alleged participants: educational publisher McGraw-Hill and trade book publisher Hachette Book Group.

Citing people familiar with the negotiations, BusinessWeek said that McGraw Hill officials are currently discussing how their software developers and Apple's can collaborate to create dynamic e-books. One source was quoted as saying the talks are just as focused on marketing as they are on software development.

The negotiations with McGraw Hill are seen as an attempt by Apple to keep a prominent role in the U.S. education system. BusinessWeek cited research firm Gartner, which claims Apple held 28.3 percent of the U.S. educational market in the third quarter of 2009. While the institutional market struggled last year, Apple spent $390,000 in one quarter alone, partially to support funding for education.

Word of McGraw Hill's alleged negotiations first surfaced last September. The company has reportedly been in talks with Apple about the tablet for the last year, but this week's report would suggest those discussions are still ongoing.

In fact, recent reports have claimed a number of last-minute deals are being discussed. Thursday, it was said that U.S. wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T are having discussions with Apple about providing 3G connectivity for the tablet.

In addition, it was alleged earlier this week that a consortium of key book publishers are participating in "secret" negotiations with Apple. It was said that "most likely all" of the six largest trade publishers in the U.S. are in talks to bring content to the unannounced device.

Also said to be engaged in discussion was publisher HarperCollins. The company may offer enhanced e-books that include video, author interviews and social networking applications. The releases would likely cost more than the standard $9.99 for current e-books.