NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) - Get Report CEO Steve Jobs is said to have held a secret meeting with top executives from the The New York Times (NYT) - Get Report, where he apparently gave executives an iPad demonstration and talked about how the device will "serve the future of media."

Apple's iPad

New York Magazine

reports that

Apple recently booked the cellar dining room at the tony Pranna

restaurant on Madison Avenue for a talk with 50 executives from

The Times

. Steve Jobs was a surprise VIP guest. Citing an unnamed source, the magazine says that the Apple supremo walked into the restaurant wearing "a very funny hat -- a big top hat kind of thing."

The meeting, which took place on Wednesday, also included

The New York Times

publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Apple is already touting its eagerly-anticipated iPad

as a competitor to the e-readers that have appeared in the last couple of years and has launched an iBooks app for downloading books onto the device. Offering newspaper content would be a logical next step for Apple, and

The Times

has been closely monitoring the development of

iPad technology as a way to deliver content

.

The newspaper industry has already made some tentative steps towards delivering content on e-readers, such as

Amazon's

(AMZN) - Get Report

Kindle deal

with

The Washington Post

(WPO)

. Unlike the Kindle, however,

Apple's iPad offers both color and touchscreen features

, not to mention the iconic Apple brand.

Touchscreens could allow newspaper publishers a new means of delivering content, particularly for gadget freaks and hip, young urbanites. Tablets such as the iPad may even prove key in opening up new revenue streams as newspaper stocks claw their way back after years of falling sales and layoffs.

In September,

The Times

confirmed, in an email to TheStreet

, that it was "prototyping concepts that we think would be compelling should a tablet-like device be released by Apple." But the paper said it was not working with the Cupertino, Calif.-based company. A spokeswoman for

The Times

declined to comment on Jobs' reported meeting and the company's iPad plans when contacted by

TheStreet

Friday. Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Despite all the rumors surrounding Apple and

The Times,

there are still big question marks about how a relationship will work out.

The Times

recently announced plans to charge for frequent access to its Web site, although this reportedly had nothing to do with Apple's iPad launch.

New York Magazine

has also said that publishers such as

The Times

are wary of an Apple deal, citing concerns that an iTunes-style deal would cut them off from their readers and make online services difficult to monetize.

Last year Web site

Gizmodo

said that

The Times

had been working on its tablet project for some time, explaining that the newspaper's R&D teams have been developing versions of the paper that can be navigated without a keyboard or mouse.

With Apple and Amazon expected to lead the e-reader race

, the space is becoming much more crowded.

Software giant

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

is getting in on the act with its

Courier touchscreen device

and

Sprint's

(S) - Get Report

forthcoming

Skiff

has been grabbing plenty of attention.

Incidentally, Jobs is said to have ordered penne pasta and a mango lassi during his meeting with

The Times'

top brass.

Apple shares rose $1.40, or 0.73%, to $193.45 on Friday, as the Nasdaq rose 0.1%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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