Is iBooks An Afterthought?

Maybe by now you’ve watched yesterday’s full Apple event, which Apple posted on its site, as it always does. Maybe you’re cooler than this blogger, and you didn’t. But you’ve probably been following the coverage, the analysis, the live blogs. Publishing has been hoping and praying for iBooks–though nobody knew it was called that–for months or years now. But it got a comparatively small mention in yesterday’s event. A couple of minutes of demonstration, relative to the 10-15 minutes devoted to, say, iWork, the productivity suite. Why?

Is it really the case that Steve Jobs still believes that no one reads anymore? Or is he really excited about using the iPad as an eBook reader?

Of course, there was no mention of pricing–that’s not Apple’s style, and it’s certainly a controversial issue with Apple’s publishing partners–or of who beyond the major trade houses will get their books in the store. All of this will become clearer in the coming months, but it’s really what we want to know–nobody doubted Apple would make eBooks look great. But will Apple be able to help change the culture around the selling and reading of eBooks?

What do you think? Is eReading central to Apple’s conception of the iPad?