Apple is well-known for raising the most ridiculous objections to content sold through its service. It has blocked apps in iTunes for simply mentioning an associated website (Bol.com), forbidden authors from mentioning Amazon, and blocked an app update because one of the screenshots contained the word "Android".
Now, two more authors are caught up in Apple's petty editorial dictates.
Jason Schultz and Aaron Perzanowski's and Jason Schultz's new book The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy (read an excerpt) is available everywhere except iBooks, and it won't be available there until they agree to change their text to refer to the ebooks sold by Apple's as "ebooks from iBooks" rather than "iBook."
Booksellers are, and should remain, free to refuse to carry books. That editorial discretion is crucial to their own free speech interests. But how they exercise that discretion should give us cause for concern when the retailer controls a significant portion of the market. For the same reasons we should be troubled when Walmart refuses to sell certain books, we should worry about the implications of Apple's tight control over its marketplace. And since Apple is the only seller for iBooks, the problem is compounded.
So why did Apple decline to sell The End of Ownership? The book is openly critical of Apple in a number of respects. We critique its embrace of DRM, its crackdown on independent repair, its complex and unreadable EULAs, its use of the deceptive Buy Now language to sell digital goods, and its commitment to hermetically-sealed business models.
But that criticism is not the reason Apple cited. Instead, the company pointed to its trademark policies. Apple noted passages in the book where we used the term "iBook" to refer to ebooks sold by Apple. But according to its iBooks Store Formatting Guidelines, Apple prefers the terms "iBooks" or "iBooks Store" be used to refer to its software ecosystem, and discourages the use of "iBook" to refer to ebooks sold using that platform.
The authors use the term "iBook" exactly three times in the 264-page book, but even once is apparently a travesty in the mind of Apple's censors.
I wih I could express surprised that Apple went OCD over this term, but this frankly is not the first time I've herad about this type of nonsense.
A friend of mine had to revise an ebook after Apple rejected it. His offense? He referred to the iBookstore, rather than the "iBooks Store".
Yes, Apple really is that obsessively petty.
image by Barry Borsboom