Amid all the excited headlines today about the Apple tablet or other technology, one of the more important doesn’t mention the A word at all.

It’s from the New York Observer and reads: After three months, only 35 subscriptions for Newsday’s Web site.

Just in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the worst global recession since the 1930s—something that may yet turn into a Depression. So I would urge publishers to keep down the prices for books on the Apple and not use multimedia as a price-raising gimmick, just when it really would help. Even the tendency of some users to pay for mobile content, but not the usual desktop content, isn’t enough.

Granted, Newsday is a newspaper and it is free to cable subscribers, reducing the market for paid subscriptions; but the same idea applies to books in this frugal era. I myself like the idea—advocated by some smart people in publishing—of e-books typically costing less than $10 and going down from there. Talk about ways to combat piracy and grow the market!

Ideally the machine itself will go for $500 without a subscription, or drop to that level quickly, but this is hope, not prophesy since—as I’m writing this—I don’t know what the price will be.

Meanwhile Engadget has run an image “of what certainly looks like a prototype Apple tablet” bolted down. A genuine photo or a fake? This afternoon—and maybe through leaks before?—we’ll find out.

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Earth to publishers: Apple tablet or not, consumers will spend only so much on e-books
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