Richard Waters Mythical or not, the iPad’s impact is already being felt

A week before its expected unveiling, the reverberations from Apple’s tablet are already spreading out through the media industry. From today alone:

Amazon raised the royalty rate it pays to publishers and authors of certain e-books to 70 per cent of the cover price – not coincidentally, the same split Apple has turned into an industry norm through its App Store.

YouTube said it would start a video rental service, reaching beyond advertising into a new payment stream (though a test with video downloads last year went nowhere and was later scrapped). It was described by one analyst as a salvo aimed directly at Apple, as Google and Apple race to become dominant “cloud” video platforms.

The New York Times finally came up with its new online charging model. The plan doesn’t take effect until next year, but announcing it now clears the way for the Times to lay out different pricing plans for different platforms: expect the announcement of some form of subscription tied to the Apple tablet next week, perhaps extending also to the iPhone.

Preparatory moves like these make one thing crystal clear: there is a growing belief through the industry that Apple’s tablet will mark a watershed moment in the evolution of digital media.

The burden of expectation on Steve Jobs next week is huge. But sometimes, if everyone believes that change is really coming, it can help to make it a reality.