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Apple shipping iPad preorders, opens international App Store, iBookstore

A week before the iPad arrives in nine new countries, Apple has begun shipping some international preorders, and has also opened overseas versions of the iPad App Store and iBookstore.

Some in the U.K. who purchased an iPad overseas notified AppleInsider on Friday that that their order has officially shipped. One order, placed on May 9, had its status updated to "shipped," though an estimated delivery date was not listed.

As with the U.S. launch, Apple has likely ensured that deliveries will not be made until Friday, May 28 — the international sale date. Stateside customers who tracked their order through UPS saw the shipment sit in a holding pattern for days before the Saturday, April 3 delivery.

Unlike the April 3 U.S. launch, when only the Wi-Fi iPad went on sale, international customers will be able to purchase both the Wi-Fi and 3G version of Apple's new multitouch device. Next week's launch will occur in nine countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K.

In preparation for the launch, Apple has also begun opening its App Store and iBookstore for the iPad in overseas countries. Engadget received word from numerous users this week that the European and Australian App Stores are now up and running.

In addition, Apple has begun populating its international iBookstores with foreign-language versions of free, public domain Project Gutenberg titles. The books, such as Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," are the same ones that have been available in the U.S. iBookstore since it launched.