I’m not quite sure what ‘beating Amazon at its own game’ entails, but from the outside, iBooks has always seemed like a runt in the litter. Apple pays as much attention to books as they do podcasts, yet they push iBooks as a mainstream operating system feature. Crucially, books costs money. Users expect more from stuff that they pay for and today Apple doesn’t really deliver.
One little known fact is that the iBooks app was developed very late in the iPad cycle. What was demoed in January 2010 was built in the last couple months of 2009.