Apple won't carry an ebook because it mentions Amazon

Author Holly Lisle has a series of online writing guides that she sells. One volume of this, "How To Think Sideways Lesson 6: How To Discover (Or Create) Your Story’s Market" was rejected by Apple's iBooks store. At first, Apple told Lisle that she wasn't allowed to have "live links" to Amazon in her books. So she removed the links and resubmitted the book, and then Apple rejected it again, telling her that they wouldn't sell her book because it mentioned Amazon, a competitor of its iBooks store.

But I also will not deal with this sort of head-up-ass behavior from a distributor. You don’t tell someone “The problem is the live links,” and then, when that person has complied with your change request and removed the live links, turn around and say, “No, no. The problem is the CONTENT. You can’t mention Amazon in your lesson.

This is not professional behavior from a professional market.

And cold moment of truth here—you cannot write a writing course that includes information on publishing and self-publishing and NOT mention Amazon. It’s the place where your writers are going to make about 90% of their money.

So I’m pulling ALL my work from the iBookstore today. I apologize to iBookstore fans. I tried. Hard.

But I’m done.

Apple Made Its Decision. My Turn. avatar (via Hacker News)


    1. True. The problem with Amazon, I’ve found (speaking from the perspective of a tech who helped make ebooks for a client) is that they stiff you on the payments.

        1. If your book is heavy on images, they charge a ‘delivery fee’; furthermore, to get 70% royalties (in select countries only), you have to agree to 35% everywhere else, and you can’t charge more than $10.

          For image-heavy books, the 70% quickly becomes 55%.

          1. Image-heavy books are better off being on paper!
            My Kindle books currently have the 70% option available for all Amazon territories. And 55% or even 35% is still better than 17% (if you’re lucky) from a traditional publisher:)
            Amazon/Apple both suck but Amazon sucks less for now.

          2. If you’re running into an issue with image size, what you have isn’t really an ebook. It’s intended as a primarily text platform.

            You can restrict your book to the 70% countries if that’s what you want, and those are 99% of the market.

      1. Not in my experience. They’ve always paid me my 70% share on sales every month, so far.

    2. And sells lots of DRM’d stuff in its own proprietary format.  Don’t see that much difference to Apple in this regard. I try to avoid Amazon and Apple in this regards as much as possible.

        1. I didn’t say they did.   As doesn’t Apple, by the way. 

          However, both pander to the DRM-crowd and Amazon uses their own format that’s doesn’t offer anything above what epub can deliver.  I’m not a great fan of Apple’s ibook format for textbooks, but at least they have *some* excuse. And Apple makes it a bit easier to have stuff of two DRM-locked accounts on the same device.

          The plus of Amazon’s DRM is that is is easy to unlock, but I’d rather not have to do it. 

          So I avoid both as often as possible, going to independent ebook vendors  or publishers’ estores  with no DRM. 

  1. I think also, Apple is just no longer interested in working with professionals in a professional marketplace.  They find it easier to bully and dictate in the relatively passive consumer space, than deal with knowledgeable business people with real goals and “skin in the game”.  Case in point; the way they have systematically abandoned their professional production products like Final Cut Studio.  

    Apple may have started it’s business appealing to creative business people, but they are no longer interested in that sector.  We’re just too much of a PIA to deal with, so they filter us out.

    1. Final Cut Studio is still available, Final Cut X is a major step forward that will take some time for production to catch up with.

      Removing FCS when FCX with introduced was, however,  dumb, dumb move.

    2. The jury is still out on FCPX. Little by little it’s improving. The show Leverage, for example, uses it for editing now. It is an absolutely FANTASTIC product for really high end amateurs and small-crew pros who aren’t finishing in movie theaters. And with slight improvements and tweaks can be made to be better than FCS ever was. The workflow efficiency is ridiculous, the compatibility is awesome, it autosyncs my double system audio, it’s just insane.

  2. Why in the heck anybody, anybody anywhere in the world, for any reason, would buy books from an online bookstore that is only available on one company’s hardware, is something I’m at a total loss to explain.

    1. Is it really that hard to understand that many people simply don’t care about the difficult later and are content with the convenient now?

    2. I don’t disagree with you, but it is my experience that an awful lot of people seem to find themselves comfortable – indeed, comforted – in the enveloping embrace of Apple Computer, using their iPhone, iPad, and iMac and disdaining all other hardware. For them, there seemingly is no other company’s hardware, they can’t imagine using it in the future, and so the unavailability of their iBooks on other platforms doesn’t seem to be a big deal to them.

          1. Because Apple make hardware and software whereas Microsoft just make software. You run Apples OS on Apple products exclusively. It’s pretty obvious the multitudes of difference in the two companies sale strategies, market and cultural following.

          2. Microsoft recognise the benefits to this, and have said themselves it’s the only way to get a truly wonderful piece of technology. Hence the Surface.
            But that’s probably drifting off topic slightly.

        1.  Not sure it’s to the same degree. I have Windows 7, but I also have Ubuntu 12.04. I have a Kindle, not a Windows tablet. I have a Phillips Vibe mp3 player, not a Zune. I buy ebooks from Amazon, feedbooks, and smashwords. I buy mp3’s from Amazon, the Ubuntu One music store, Jamendo… You see where I’m going. I would say, on the whole, that Apple consumers are very much more brand-loyal than Windows users.

          1. Oh totally.

            But that brand loyalty is the result of creating a seamless ecosystem. If you wanted to buy an eBook on your iPad you can pick one up from Amazon, and you can buy your MP3’s from anywhere else too. Your non-Apple MP3 player will work seamlessly with a Mac as well, you won’t even need to install a driver.

            The reason people that use Apple tend to stick to Apple is because everything works well together and there’s comfort in that. Microsoft isn’t very centralised; it’s only very recently that an xbox has any real connection with a windows machine; and from what I understand owning a Zune provides no benefit to a windows user that couldn’t be gotten with any other mp3 player. There is no ecosystem to buy into, and therefore no customer benefit to remain loyal.

            I think my point was more that, sure, buying Apple products can corner you into an Apple market – but only because there are customer advantages (Same goes for any company that a consumer has success with that offers other products). And aside from Mac/iOS apps you’re not tied down to a platform anyway. You can stick any mp3 on your iPod and any eBook on your iPad. The same argument exists for every other platform as well. If I owned an Android phone I’d be less inclined to buy an iPhone or an iPad, because I’ve already invested into a platform that isn’t transferable. Same goes for someone who uses a Windows PC – I think that’s what I was getting at.

          2. Nathan,
            The brand loyalty doesn’t actually have much to do with a seamless ecosystem. Apple is introducing more integration, but your iPad has so far had fairly little to do with your laptop/desktop computer, whether it’s made by Apple or by Toshiba. It really a matter of brand loyalty, of convincing a not-insignificant number of people that Apple is automatically and always The Best, and is the only choice they’ll contemplate. Apple has users who are fans in a way that competing platforms really don’t – certainly that competing hardware makers don’t, and even on the software side the only real exception I can think of is a quite small number of very technically minded people who are strongly committed to Linux, etcetera.

        2.  Apple has a segment of it’s fan-base that is almost cultish in it’s devotion.  Linux does as well.  That segment is vastly smaller in the Windows ecosystem, as it really has nothing to inspire it.  I buy Apple products when I do because they are well designed, high-quality hardware.  As a Linux user, one of the things I like about OSX is that I can call up a terminal window, and work in Unix when it is the best choice.  I use Linux a lot because I love the concept of Open Source, and I can do what I want without spending a fortune on software.  I use Windows largely because I have to in my professional life.

          1. Apple has a segment of it’s fan-base that is almost cultish in it’s devotion.  Linux does as well.

            That’s like comparing apples (Apples?) and the trees they grow on.

    3. I have an iPad (or kindle, or whatever) today. If I want to read the latest NYT best seller today, I can get it delivered to my device in seconds and start reading. Will I still be able to read it in three years when that device may have broken or been sold? Who gives a shit? I’ll never read that book twice anyway, and even if I want to, then I’ll buy it again when it’s not a new release and it’s cheaper and I’ll be out a whole $7. Big deal.

    4. “buy books from an online bookstore that is only available on one company’s hardware, is something I’m at a total loss to explain”

      Really? Seems pretty straightforward to me.

      The entire world buys single-platform DRMed material by the boatload – console games, practically all music (until recently), video, you name it. And before that, they re-purchased their material whenever it changed format – VCR to DVD and records to CDs.

      And they clearly don’t care. It’s not like there was a sudden uptick in music sales when DRM was removed a while back. Maybe they’ll spend a few seconds or pennies to avoid it, but that’s it.

      I just bought a book from the iBookstore, and I was fully aware of the DRM issue. Why did I buy it then? Because it was $10.99 from Apple, and $13.99 from Amazon.

      1. You have explained that people buy DRMed material from walled gardens.  But we already knew that.  J. Brad Hicks was asking why.  You didn’t answer that. (Unless you’re saying that every single book is cheaper on iBookstore than Amazon. That would be a good reason. But I don’t think it’s actually true.)

  3. If all you need is text and a few static images, an old bookstore will do. If you want an interactive, immersive experience for your users, the Apple bookstore is pretty much the only viable game in town. Yeah, it limits severely the number of devices you can read the book on, but that’s mainly because the underlying software support jut ain’t there.

    That said, rejecting a book for the mention of Amazon is silly (unless the author is aying something obviously inflammatory, like “You’ll get 90% of your revenue from Amazon, so ignore the rest.”)

    1. It is not silly. It is borderline criminal. And we can let the reader decide about the inflammatory thing.

    2. I’m about as Apple fanboy as they come (Mac user since 1986, ex-employee, huge pile of equipment sitting around me), and that statement may or may not be inflammatory, but it’s 100% true in the market as it stands now.

      I dislike Amazon for lots of reasons, but their publisher tools are very normal, straight-forward, and easy to use. I still can’t even fully figure out *how* to get a book into iBookstore.

      Total. Dick. Move.

        1. I can’t move for the Macs I have around here. :) The impression (admittedly, about a year old) that I had was that they were only interested in dealing with large publishers, or aggregators, just as with the music store. Things may well have changed.

          1. Nah. You just have to request in to the program. Then if they accept you, you’re golden.

    3. That said, rejecting a book for the mention of Amazon is silly (unless the author is aying something obviously inflammatory, like “You’ll get 90% of your revenue from Amazon, so ignore the rest.”)

      Really? You think Apple should refuse to sell any book that happens at some point in its text, in some context, to deprecate Apple? Not even to denounce it or to strongly criticize it, but to (honestly, apparently) say that in this particular area Apple is at present rather peripheral, indeed almost irrelevant? And this grave offense against the delicate feelings of the massively wealthy corporation justifies the banning of a worthwhile book?

      That’s just nuts. Apple should have the courage and the faith in its products and its future cheerfully to accept 30% of the sale price on books that say that Cupertino is directly controlled by Satan himself and all of their products are evil incarnate.

      Oh, and once Apple is censoring for content in this way, does that mean Apple is guaranteeing that all the other statements made in books it doesn’t censor meet its approval? If you lose your shirt following some investment advice in a book Apple’s iBookstore sold you, does this practice mean Apple’s on the hook?

      1. I’ve not read the book so my opinions are based on, well, eff all really. Of course Apple should allow “Amazon” to be mentioned in any book (and including a link is hardly a crime). After all, Amazon doesn’t refuse to sell “Steve Jobs a Biography”). My gut feeling is there must be more to this story than we are being told. After all, even if Amazon is the big ticket item, more books being written equals (in some way) more books for Apple’s own bookstore.

        BTW, can we read Apple’s books on a Mac yet, or is that still just the authoring platform?

        1. Why does there need to be more to the story?  Apple already forbids apps that mention Android anywhere, however peripherally.  As much as it might seem weird to us, it is typical Apple behavior.

      2. Apple will distribute the products they want to distribute and nothing more.
        It’s not censorship, it’s business.

        Just like Disney is not being an evil censor by refusing to distribute pornography.

        1. I hear what you’re saying, but I think there’s a difference between refusing to serve a certain market segment (and even that’s extraordinarily difficult to do; Apple sells Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which was banned from the US mails as pornography not all that long ago) and serving a market segment while insisting that the works in that segment must be edited so as to flatter Apple.

          If that’s what’s really going on here. I remain hopeful (see my other comments) that this is some nitwit working at Apple, as opposed to Plan Nine From Cupertino to start shaping the content of books it sells to flatter its corporate image and parrot its marketing message.

          1. Well, that’s not what is really happening is it?
            Apple is not refusing to distribute speech that is critical of it.

            You could get New York Times with iEconomy articles included and This American Life with Mike Daisey and When Patents Attack episodes from iTunes.

            What we do know for sure is that Apple is refusing to distribute books linking back to Amazon purchase links of books.
            You seem to have stumbled upon another restriction or a confused reviewer.
            I’m sure you make mistakes some of the time and when you do you can appreciate if the people affected don’t immediately call you a nitwit and abandon not only any hope of solving the problem but the entire relationship.

            You may be right, but the way you have described your handling of it makes it sound about as dismissive as Apple. It makes sense in a way because both you and them can afford to abandon the relationship and are busy enough to justify abandoning it.

  4. Neither Apple/Amazon choice is perfect. As a consumer, I’d lean slightly towards Amazon, at least as far as content goes. If I was looking at it from a content producer point of view I’d lean Apple (at least assuming that cash for work is my main goal).

    But things are muddy and murky. It used to be that the rights and responsibility of the different parts of the supply chain were well defined. Content producers went though publisher who delivered goods to distributors who provided them to retail. Different industries rewarded/screwed the different roles in different ways but the relationships were well understood.

    Things like this book are an edge case. The new companies and business practices are still figuring out where the boundaries and conventions are. It’s going to take time to shake out what is appropriate and accepted behaviors.

    1. I’m using Apple’s iTunes Producer platform for a small publishing venture, at this point strictly as a “cover all our bases” strategy. I deal with Amazon (e-book and POD), Barnes and Noble (e-book), and Apple, among other venues (including my own).

      Apple’s support has been horrible: ineffective and obtuse. Their publishing platform is opaque and user hostile, and when errors inevitably occur, both the error messages and the support staff charged with interpreting them are singularly unhelpful.

      I don’t think this is an edge case–it’s really very simple. Amazon has this sort of thing figured out, and so does any place (like, say Smashwords) that gives even the slightest of shits about independent publishers and authors. Even Barnes and Noble, while having absolutely no frills at all and not much in the way of support for its PubIt! service, doesn’t give off the “go away and don’t bother us” vibe that Apple does.

      An “edge” case? No. It’s simple: act like you might want your customers’ business. And don’t be a huge corporate fuckface.

      Holly Lisle just did what she was eventually expected to do.

      1.  I’m also epublishing books to the big three right now, and I agree with your assessment: Apple is the very worst, by far, in every category. We’re giving it another month or two, and then we’ll be pulling our titles as well.

      2. There’s your mistake right there: you are NOT Apple’s customer, you are one of many suppliers of enhancements for their software platform which serve their actual customers.

        Apple makes pennies at most from you, and it apparently shows.

        1. so,what you’re saying is, content creators are worthless as shown by Apple’s, half-assed treatment of the people who actually make their ecosystem attractive? that’s literally like saying “You app developers aren’t the audience, Apple makes pennies from you, and it shows.” I guess telling people that help grow and promote your brand to f-off is one way to go…

          1. There are infinite shades of attitude between the kind of treatment Apple tries to reserve for their customers and the ridiculous straw-man you are implying.

            Relationships are more complicated than just “I love you” or “F*** off”.

            Apple prioritizes themselves first and their customers as a close second.
            Developers, authors and other enhancement suppliers are a more distant third.

            You can accept it and learn to profit from it or you can moan about it on the Internet.
            Apple doesn’t really care either way because as long as their actual customers are satisfied, somebody will choose to accept their rules to be allowed to sell content to those customers.

  5. As someone pointed out elsewhere, the Apple bookstore has several books about using and making money with Amazon and/or the Kindle, so the question becomes, what happened here.  At the moment we have one side of the story (and that’s probably all we will get, as I doubt Apple will respond or even cares).  I wonder if it all depends on employees reading the guidelines differently, some more lenient than others.

    1. The others probably didn’t trigger a review because they lacked links that Apple’s bot spotted.

      1. That was the initial rejection, but it seems Holly removed the links and after resubmitting was told it’s actually the content.  If it’s the content and not the links then surely the bots would have flagged the other books as well.  This is why it seems more likely that it’s one employee’s interpretation of the guidelines (which is still a problem, although imho, not as egregious).  

        1. I agree with Foobar, once in manual review it has to get cleared from that status by an actual employee.  So most likely the others simply didn’t trigger the parsing bots and never entered the manual review process.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the other books didn’t get pulled now that attention has been brought to them.  Apple prefers to not have any competition at all…just look at safari on iOS.  There are no true third party browsers on iOS as all other browsers on iOS are forced to be skins of mobile safari’s webkit implimentation and js engine and are not even given access to nitro.  Very anti-competitive practices and a real shame. :-(

          I love apple products, but their business practices are borderline evil.

          1. Absolutely possible (and I agree with your last sentence). 

            But seeing as I know of only one instance (this one) where a book was banned because of an Amazon reference, and I know of several approved ibooks that not only reference Amazon, but Amazon is the main subject,  this evidence points to either a misunderstanding or a change in guidelines.  Until another case arises or those books disappear, I’m not going to assume malice.

            I do support Holly in the removal of her books from Apple’s store.  Her experience and Ian’s experience from above show’s what can happen when a company steps outside of it’s core business.  They are probably understaffed and badly trained.  

            This incident highlights why we should fear the duopoly of Amazon and Apple.  If they become the sole proprietor’s of the world literature, I shudder what that means for both the author and the reader.

          2. ” Apple prefers to not have any competition at all…just look at safari on iOS.  There are no true third party browsers on iOS as all other browsers on iOS are forced to be skins of mobile safari’s webkit implimentation and js engine and are not even given access to nitro.  Very anti-competitive practices and a real shame. :-(”

            I use Chrome on my iPad.  There’s also Opera I believe.  There’s no Firefox, but for the sake of the performance of my iPad I’ll consider that a good thing.  And I’m in no hurry to get IE on it.

  6. This seems to fall under the category of information Lewis Black described as “the sort of thing you should keep hidden.  That way, by the time I dig deep enough to find out about, I’m too tired to be angry.  Don’t just pull down your pants and crap on my face.”

    Besides … isn’t Apple still technically facing an anti-trust investigation from the DOJ?  

  7. Sounds like JOBS is somehow directing APPLE beyond the grave…
    Think his brain is plugged in to an iBook (iJOBS), in some secret lab beneath the Apple HQ.

  8. All the more reason  not to buy books from the only two bigger distributors.

    Support your local bookstore while its till there!

    1. I would happily still be shopping at my long gone local bookstore except I stopped going when they hedged their service based on my ambiguous politics and acted annoyed any time I asked them to put down their book and look something up for me. When the internet came along I jumped.

      1. The internet is bigger than Amazon and Apple. 

        I don’t buy books from Amazon on principle- I don’t have anything against them, but I don’t want to accidentally aid the creation of a monopoly on selling books. If I can get it locally, I do (quicker than ordering online anyway, and often cheaper due to no shipping charges). If I can’t get it locally, I go to or . Never Amazon.

        1. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with monopolies, Google pretty much has one in search, do you avoid them too?  You should be promoting Amazon, it’s policy of customer first is what prompted Apple and the book publishers to conspire and forc an anti competitive system on e-book users, and they will pay for that soon enough. 

  9. The “no links” rule I can understand, but I wonder how many of its customers Apple thinks are completely unaware of the existence of Amazon.

    I’ve just never understood this school of business thought. 
    They were presented with two options:

    1. make some amount of money
    2. make ZERO money

    And they chose option two.

    1. I agree.  I’m in the ‘there’s probably more to this than meets the eye’ crowd.  But having policy banning the mention, or even linking to, competitors is a bit OTT.

  10. Sorry for the writer, but I doubt Apple will care one bit.  Yes, they will now make zero money off of these books, but somehow I don’t think they will mind. They are such a rigid company,  and they tend to walk their own path, come hell or high water.

    1. I suspect Apple is more worried about the publicity this event and Ms. Lisle’s response could garner for them, and the hostility it could engender among authors, than it is concerned about its cut of her books sold through their platform. To the extent, of course, that they’re concerned at all. 

      The obvious move would be for them to apologize to Ms. Lisle and say that the verdict she received was made in error by an underling who has been disciplined. This would cost them nothing; they should have done it before now.

      1. Apple don’t really do PR, but admittedly for reasons in no way connected to this issue.

        But I imagine that if this was an error, it will likely be corrected; but there’s 2 sides to every story and I’d be a lot less forgiving if it were for actual censoring, rather than mitigating competitor awareness.

        1. I don’t even know what that last phrase means. To the extent I’m able to parse it, it seems to be an endorsement of the notion that Apple should censor mention of its competitors from content available on Apple products. I certainly don’t want to believe this was what you intended me to understand from your statement.

          1. I’d be less forgiving, so I’m still not OK with it, but at the same time you wont find me up in arms about it; whereas if this were political (for example) it’d rile me.

        2. Apple don’t really do PR

          LOL.  From my perspective they don’t do anything else.

          Does the Apple Stores NEED to be made from sets left over from Minority Report?

  11. With all due respect to Holly Lisle, we won’t take her apology; it’s not her place to apologise for that which is Apple’s fault.

  12. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Apple, wonderful products from horrible people.
    I love my MacBook Pro, and iPhone, but Apple and their policies just suck.

    1. I’m with you.  But I also worry that without those people and policies we’d end up with the same plastic tat everyone else spews out each quarter. We need more genuine Apple competitors before we rock the boat. I’m not entirely sure why it’s taking people so long to start actually competing with them, rather than mimicking their success with budget alternatives*.

      * There are, of course, exceptions that prove the rule.

  13. “You don’t tell someone ‘The problem is the live links,’ and then, when that person has complied with your change request and removed the live links, turn around and say, ‘No, no. The problem is the CONTENT. You can’t mention Amazon in your lesson.’

    This is not professional behavior from a professional market.

    So I’m pulling ALL my work from the iBookstore today. I apologize to iBookstore fans. I tried. Hard.

    But I’m done.”

    Please, PLEASE get this to the gentlemen who did the dramatic reading of that Yelp review. I would love to see some actor getting teary-eyed while reading this melodrama.

    (The term “melodrama” is strictly about the writing style; inb4 flamed for calling the message itself “melodramatic.”)

    1. So….you’re saying that she should continue doing business with a company that’s treating her badly?

      1. No. I’m saying she should deliver her message in a way that doesn’t sound like it’s life-or-death. Again, I have nothing against the message, it’s the delivery.

        1. I’m saying she should deliver her message in a way that doesn’t sound like it’s life-or-death.

          If this is the source of her income, maybe it is.

          1. Well, if her old business model doesn’t work, she needs to look for a new one.

            Sounds like she did.  Did you read the OP?

    2. while reading this melodrama
      inb4 flamed for calling the message itself “melodramatic.”

      ^^^That is some irony, right there, lol.

      1.  No irony. Her message, that Apple fucked her over, is very legitimate if true. Her *delivery* is melodramatic as all hell, which does not make her message wrong.

          1. Man, if commenting that “that one Yelp dude should read this” or (accurately) predicting light internet flaming is melodrama these days, I don’t wanna know what my 13-year-old little sister’s behavior is called.

  14. Fact-finding mission:
    Open iBooks
    Click on Store
    Click on Search
    Enter the term Amazon
    Look at screen

    This story is bogus and I’m disappointed in Boing Boing for publishing it without fact-checking.

    1.  I seem to be unable to find the iBooks on the internet.  Can you please provide a link so that I can search their store?

    2.  Is the book mentioned in the OP available?  I don’t have iBooks so I can’t actually check myself.

      Note that the OP isn’t about a complete lack of amazon-related books, it’s about a particular author’s experience with Apple.

  15. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? Again. Apple mentions their competitors all the time in keynotes.

  16. And the problem isn’t that Amazon dominates 90% of the book market here? It’s supposed to be that extreme measures are needed to fend off that monopolistic power the government is actively supporting?

      1. Oh, for heaven’s sake. There are basically three possibilities:

        1) Ms. Lisle is lying and has made this story up to attract attention.
        2) Some nitwit at Apple, a human recruited into a process triggered by the automated detection of live links, has messed up and done something inconsistent with Apple’s policy.
        3) Apple genuinely does have this abhorrent policy, but has not (thus far) generally enforced it.

        I suspect you can discount possibility (1). Shame on her if it’s so, obviously, but surely in such a circumstance she would realize that libeling an entity with the resources of Apple Computer would be profoundly foolish.

        Possibility (2) seems quite plausible. Even if it isn’t true, to claim (2) is true would be the cleanest exit for Apple.

        Sadly, possibility (3) is also quite possible. The dozens of pages of Terms And Conditions everyone scrolls past in order to activate a piece of software or use a service frequently contain powers as misguided and megalomaniacal as the one being claimed here seems to be. Someone at Apple may be correctly using powers Apple has retained for itself in a way consistent with Apple’s written policies, even if similar decisions weren’t made in other instances. And if so, this aberrant instance of censorship need not remain aberrant …

        1. I don’t mean to take an automatically apologetic stance with Apple here. It just seems to me like something silly happened (option 2) or that there’s more to it than what she’s letting on (not quite number 1) and she’s now using this to her advantage.
          If its number 3 then power to her. I’m just naturally suspicious given that there are scores of books on iBooks about Amazon – I’m just going with what evidence I have that didn’t come from this one person with an axe to grind.

        2.   Even if it is 2), this is not the first time that Apple has had inconsistencies in it’s review processes. 

  17. This is exactly the type of situation I wrote about a couple of years ago in the preface to my book, The Late Age of Print, just as the iBooks store was starting to come online.  Indeed, Cory’s post speaks to a major issue confronting digital publishing today, where it’s all too easy to collapse the roles of publisher and distributor.  Apple’s disappointing — though hardly unpredictable — behavior teaches us how vital and important the longstanding “separation of powers” in the book industry actually is, and it underscores the importance of preserving that separation to whatever extent possible in the digital age.

  18. I told someone in person who works in Apple corporate (virtual office) that I couldn’t wait for the day I could switch away from Apple to Ubuntu Linux or whatever.  Her confused expression was priceless.

          1. Your semantic bullshat aside, CS6 does not run properly with Wine.  If you want to run CS6, you’ll need to use a virtual machine (yes, an emulator) and pay the Microsoft tax to boot.

            Photoshop alone hasn’t worked well under Wine since version 7 (pre-CS5) much less the entire suite.  And, don’t tell me how great GIMP is, because GIMP is very far behind Photoshop CS6 in many, many vital features that professionals need.  And, yes, I’ve used GIMP and I have Linux installed on my Mac as well, so I’m not saying any of this blindly.

            I really do want to switch to Linux and continue to actively monitor developments with it.  But for my work, it’s not practical at this point.

  19. I avoid Apple like the plague.  I tried iTunes for a while and hated it.  Big… Bloaty… wouldn’t let me listen on anything except Apple products.  If I burned a CD, it lost all the metadata.   And then there is all the DRM crap.  
     Thinking your the only company in the world just plain sucks.  

  20. Have you ever noticed how much Apple resembles “The Master Control Program” from the original Tron?

  21. Wtf Cory – Why does your link behind 
    “How To Think Sideways Lesson 6: How To Discover (Or Create) Your Story’s Market” go to Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow instead of Holly’s book?

  22. Doesn’t make sense.  There are already many iBooks that not only mention Amazon but some that are specifically about how to publish an ebook and market it with Amazon.  I think Holly is full of BS or at least isn’t understanding the situation.

    1. As far as I understand it, Apple can reject whatever content it wants to and doesn’t even have to give a reason.

      Totally disgusting.  Avoid Apple like the plague.

      1. So can any bookstore, afaik.  There’s a local bookstore here in town that is owned by a bible thumping Christian that won’t carry many things from science to fiction and categorizes some books on creation as non-fiction.  That said, I don’t see quite that extreme discrimination with Apple’s store, not to say that it doesn’t exist, just not nearly to the extent Holly asserts from a common sense point of view.

        1.  Your local bible-thumping Christian bookstore owner doesn’t make authors sign an agreement not to sell their books anywhere else if they write them using his word-processing software.

    2. Agree. Either Apple are applying their content policy inconsistently, or this is an stunt by the author to get a few hits. A simple search shows a number of books on iTunes that are about selling on Amazon.

      Also, there’s a Kindle App – Apple are clearly NOT acting as if they’re afraid of their competition.

  23. Apple is disgusting.  Just boycott all Apple products.

    I’ve never bought an Apple product and I never intend to.

      1.  I don’t boycott Apple only for that reason.  There are dozens if not hundreds of very good reasons to stay away from Apple.

        This is just one example of many of Apple’s “Let’s Be Evil” philosophy.

    1. Name me one public company that has never done anything upsetting. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon–All guilty.

      So do you only use products you make yourself in your garage or are you just *slightly* hypocritical in your views? Because the way I see it, it’s either one or the other.

  24. From her blog:


    Here’s the first email I received from them. Boldface is mine.

    Dear Holly Lisle,
    One or more assets from your submission, How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, need to be replaced:
    Ticket #: 1438977Ticket Type: Book AssetApple ID: 541126811ISBN: 9781937533304Vendor ID: 9781937533304Full book asset:
    Competing Website(s)
    Notes:Jun, 29 2012, 12:13PM – Apple:Book file contains links from competitors: Amazon, in the chapter Q&A 6, under “Question 9″Please log in to iTunes Connect to view this request and upload replacement assets:
    If you have any questions about this report, contact us at the iBookstore.
    The iTunes Store Team

    Here’s the FINAL email I received from them before I removed my courses.

    Dear Holly Lisle,

    One or more assets from your submission, How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, need to be replaced:
    Ticket #: 1438977Ticket Type: Book AssetApple ID: 541126811ISBN: 9781937533304Vendor ID: 9781937533304Please note that the changes in this ticket were not executed. The ticket has been returned to you for additional corrections. Please make all of the changes requested below.
    Full book asset:
    Competing Website(s)Rejected Reason(s):Competing Website(s)
    Notes:Jun, 29 2012, 12:13PM – Apple:Book file contains links from competitors: Amazon, in the chapter Q&A 6, under “Question 9″Jul, 18 2012, 4:54AM – Apple:Epub internals validation passedJul, 18 2012, 4:54AM – Apple:The following ticket task(s) have been updated by the feed: Full epubJul, 18 2012, 1:21PM – Apple:Please Note: The original change request was not fulfilled. Your changes were not saved. Previous issue was not addressed. Please review your file before resubmitting it. Thank you.Jul, 19 2012, 8:35AM – Apple:Epub internals validation passedJul, 24 2012, 11:56AM – Apple:Please Note: The original change request was not fulfilled. Your changes were not saved. Original Issues have not been resolved.Please log in to iTunes Connect to view this request and upload replacement assets:
    If you have any questions about this report, contact us at the iBookstore.
    The iTunes Store Team

    As noted, however, I HAD changed the lesson, HAD removed the links, HAD complied with their request. Since the links were gone, their only possible objection—NOT STATED—was content.


    I get it, she’s pissed…but it’s not about content.

    1.  Well, Apple (or rather its content sensor) just was lazy. And, truth said, that policy of Apple have a strong monopoly stink. I bet it wouldn’t stand a serious legal battering…. then again, because they have all that money…

    2. Oops, she’s technically wrong there, she didn’t remove the links.  She should have done her due diligence before making a fuss.  Egg on face.  Fix it and submit it again.

    3. “I get it, she’s pissed…but it’s not about content.”

      Indeed, it looks like some sort of mechanical error – like she uploaded the wrong version, or the person at Apple examined the wrong version.

      But from this email, it seems clear that this assumption is nothing more than that.

  25. The response to this preposterous and obviously false story raises the question of whether there is any limit to the gullibility of a group of indignant commenters on boingboing. 

    You should do a test of posting increasingly unlikely stories to see whether there is any limit to this gullibility. 

  26. I haven’t read all the comments above, but personally I think that AMAZON should remove all books related to APPLE products as well… Let’s see what happens *lol*

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