Apple Continues to be OCD Over Mentions of its Products in eBooks

90670663_d7131a8f44_bApple 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 (, 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.

Boing Boing

image by Barry Borsboom

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Frank22 November, 2016

    Apple is a market leader in plenty of things, so they have the pull to be petty about their branding. iBooks Store has been the official name for years.

  2. Chris Syme23 November, 2016

    This is the reason I gave up publishing my nonfiction books on iBooks. Just sayin’. I can testify it was an exercise in frustration until I just gave them up. They never were a big player in my sales anyway.

  3. Will Entrekin23 November, 2016

    Is it really “petty” or “censor”ship to require precision with regard to owned trademarks? It’s a legal distinction, which requires both protection and cultivation. Not doing so is frequently what causes once-protected trademarks to fall into common usage (I’m thinking mostly of Kleenex facial tissues here), and Apple, being pretty much the dominant player in terms of hardware/software, likely has the most at stake. Remember how for a few years a lot of people basically called all MP3 players ‘iPods’ regardless of who made them — and so many other companies (especially the OEM/knockoff folks) specifically aped Apple’s designs?

  4. S. J. Pajonas26 November, 2016

    They’re required by trademark law to enforce this and EVERYONE has to comply. I did. My book was rejected three times 18 months ago because I used “iTunes” instead of “iBooks” in the back matter. I changed it and uploaded. No big deal.

    1. Nate Hoffelder26 November, 2016


      No. That’s next-level BS.

      For one thing, it is a myth that one is “required” to defend against the misuse of one’s trademarks by attacking anyone who uses a symbol or word which is covered by a trademark. One should defend against commercial misuse of a trademark, sure, but that’s not what is happening here.

      What we have here are people using inexact language to refer to Apple’s products by its trademarks. That does not cause trademark dilution. Referring to Apple’s products by misapplying Apple’s trademarks does no harm, and when Apple objects it just makes Apple look petty and stupid.

  5. Mercia McMahon26 November, 2016

    Apple no longer sells iBooks, although I still have my iBook G4 which is now 12 years old.

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