Here’s Why iBooks Will Fail – Censorship

As much as some might want iBooks to grow into a counterpart to the Kindle Store, that won't happen so long as Apple continues to run it the way they have been. Mike Cane tipped me to a recent blog post by Shoo Rayner, an author and illustrator. Shoo had been an early enthusiast for iBooks Author, and he just loved how this tool enabled him to easily make an iBook which he could easily submit to the overlords at Apple. (Mike posted about this back in January.) But he isn't anymore, and he explains why in this video.

Let me sum it up, for those who don't like the choppyness of the patched together video.

Shoo recently submitted a title to iBooks, only it's not live yet in the iBookstore. By the time he made this video, Shoo had been waiting over a week for Apple's censor to get off their duff and approve it. For obvious reasons, that should have happened in hours, not days.

A technical review for iOS safety standards could have been done in under a few minutes. It doesn't take that long to do a virus scan, confirm that the file meets the iBook spec, and make sure that it doesn't contain malware.

The only reason that it might take a week is that Apple is making sure that the content meets with their approval. And that, my dear, is censorship. Pretty heavy handed censorship, too.

It's also not the first time that has been picky about approving content.You probably recall that back in February Apple bounced a title from iBooks because the author had included links to Amazon. That is a relatively minor case compared to the one I found last year. Apple was pushing developers to release their apps as Epub, not apps, even though some wouldn't work well as Epub (this was pre iBooks Author).

In the long run this is going to bite Apple in the ass. I would expect more and more authors to follow Shoo. He's gotten fed up with the delay, so his next work will be made for the Kindle Fire and submitted to the Kindle Store.

Amazon doesn't have nearly the same obsession with controlling what gets into the Kindle Store that Apple clearly has with iBooks. Of course, they might pull it later based on their own capricious decisions, but at least it gets in.

About Nate Hoffelder (11480 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

13 Comments on Here’s Why iBooks Will Fail – Censorship

  1. When will authors (and publishers) realise that Apple is just not that into you? E books is not even a rounding error in Apple’s revenues and they have little interest in competing in this market.

    Would not surprise me if they cede the retail market to Amazon and concentrate on the potentially more lucrative educational side of things, and books as apps.

  2. I am not that into Apple, but let me play the devil’s advocate for a minute.

    Publishers of dead tree books get lots and lots of manuscripts. They evaluate them, and publish only a small percentage. An author may need to wait for ages before he knows whether or not his book is accepted for publication. All that is accepted practice.

    But when a digital publisher follows similar procedures – and manages to speed things up a bit and to publish a larger percentage of the manuscripts that are offered – it’s suddenly called ‘censorship’?

    As a customer, I’d be more willing to buy a book of an unknown author if I know that all books in that particular shop meet at least certain quality standards. This so-called ‘censorship’ is then a good thing for the customer, and also will help the webshop to sell more books of new authors.

    If the author’s book does not meet these quality standards he must go elsewhere – like in the paper world. But it’s also quite possible that it means that his book is not worth publishing.

    • >>>But when a digital publisher follows similar procedures

      Apple is NOT a publisher. It’s what it says it is: iBook*store*. Learn the frikkin difference or stop trying to pull BS like that to people.

      • You should have read the first line of my comment before you started shouting at me.
        If we cannot discuss this in a polite manner there is no point in discussing at all.

    • Yes, I’m the author, but in this case I’m the publisher. Apple is the book store. It’s an unusual bookstore that decides which books you are allowed to buy and which you can’t.

  3. The typical time for my uploads to go live is 2-3 weeks. The books are of the “religious” genre. The themes are not accepted by the masses. There is probably not one person working at Apple that would agree with the themes found in the books. Yet, every title submitted has “gone live” and is now live. Before you start talking about censorship, how about some actual proof? Talk to print authors about how long it takes to get a print book “live.”

    • But they’re only pushing electrons around. What could they be doing that takes 3 weeks?

      • How does a long review time relate to censorship? If you want to argue that the review time is too long I might agree. But a long review time is not censorship…

        • What about the content that Apple doesn’t approve of? Why even have a long content review process, if not to block the stuff you don’t like?

          • Apple refused to let a book in because it had the word “fuck” in it.

            Meanwhile, what do the SONGS they sell have in their lyrics?

            Apple wants to try to have their cake and eat it. And I will keep ruining their appetite until they stay the hell out of judging book content.

  4. We submit quite a few books to iBooks and the normal QA delay is 2 weeks and our books often have no words. Every time we’ve been further delayed or pulled up it’s because of perceived technical irregularities like the page numbers not matching those shown in the index. This is almost always to do with user experience as the books meet technical standards. I’d be amazed if they applied meaningful censorship.

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