This is a story that has sort of drifted under the radar for a while. Back in early May Lulu announced that they offer a service to aspirng writers for them to publish their own works via their service, which could then be distributed in the iBookstore.
This is a valid way to get into publishing your works. But it was always hinted by Apple that you could also go direct to them if you wish.
Apple has now clarified this for us all. And it is indeed possible to publish directly with Apple without going through Lulu or Smashwords. There are a few steps, which you need to take. But you can totally go it alone if you wish. So the choice is now yours.
In order to publish direct with Apple, via the iBookstore this is what you need to do, as well as write a book of course!
Secondly you need to have a copy of your book in ePUB format. There are many free ways to do this. Details here.
Finally, you need to use a Mac running at least OS X 10.5, in order to encode your book with Apple’s software. You can always borrow a friend’s Mac if you are PC based.
The business model is supposed to be similar to that of iTunes App publishing, or iTunes music distribution. With you able to set the price and Apple taking a cut, and you setting which countries you wish your book to be published in.