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I think, and I may be WAY off, that "new release" gives apple the right to use the title in promotions. Not sure what the other differences might be.
 

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Though I did not save the website reference where I pulled this, here's what I have on the Publication Type field.

We would like to remind you of the Publication Type field that was introduced in iTunes Producer 2.2. To avoid availability interruptions on the iBookstore, make sure that all titles are assigned a publication type: New Release, Digital Only, or Other.

A New Release publication is defined in your contract and is bound to specific discounts. A Digital Only publication has no print equivalent or is significantly enhanced from the print edition (for example, a multimedia title). An Other publication does not meet the criteria for New Release or Digital Only (for example, an older backlist title that has a print equivalent).

Based on phrasing, printed books can only be considered "new" or "digital only" in the iBookstore if they are beyond a direct translation of the printed version. Otherwise, they fall into the ambiguous "other" category. By not being "new", publishers lose the opportunity to promote the book as such on the iBookstore.
If I review the contract, New Release is defined simply as below, without the caveats above:

(k) "New Release" means any adult Trade fiction or adult Trade nonfiction book during the seven (7) month period following its first publication, regardless of format (e.g. physical or digital).
But more importantly, the relationship to LIST price is spelled out for New Releases in the contract, by country. If you violate this price relationship for New Release listings, you run the risk of your book being pulled.

Most of us discount our eBooks significantly compared to a POD version so we likely don't hit this very often anyway, but it's good to know what the terms mean.

So.... I think the first section above is incorrect when it says that the New Release must differ from the Print version, but you do need to pay attention to the pricing if your eBook is more than 50% of the cost of your Print edition - though there are specific restrictions in each country that are listed in your contract.
 
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