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Apple denies sale of ebook containing links to Amazon

post #1 of 128
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Entrepreneur and prolific author Seth Godin has accused Apple of blocking sales of ebooks containing links to Amazon's online store after recently finding that his own short manifesto had been refused.

In a Wednesday post on website PaidContent , Godin writes that Apple has chosen to not carry his new ebook "Stop Stealing Dreams" in the iBookstore due to number of links in the bibliography that direct readers to Amazon's competing marketplace.

Godin quotes a note he received from Apple as to why the ebook was rejected: "“Multiple links to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) store. IE page 35, David Weinberger link.”

The issue could be cross-promotion as Godin apparently includes his Amazon Affiliate ID with the links in question, allowing the author to receive a small cut of any potential sales, though this matter was not reported as part of Apple's response.

The allegations of content rejection based on the inclusion of out-of-store links have raised the question of whether the practice is actually commercially motivated censorship. Some websites have taken to the story and are airing concerns that Apple's alleged actions might also be adopted by larger online bookstores.

Godin writes:
It is difficult to assess whether Apple is indeed creating a walled marketplace as the iBookstore has yet to reach a marketshare close to its competitors.


Seth Godin's new manifesto discusses the current state of education. | Source: Squidoo


Adding a wrinkle to the sale of ebooks are the pages of content available online in open formats, Godin's newest book included.

Perhaps most troubling to writers are the somewhat vague guidelines as to what will disqualify a book from being sold in the iBookstore. In Godin's case it was a multitude of links, though no stipulation exists as to how many can be included before a book is rejected or if the removal of said links will then qualify the book for sale.

In an attempt to grow its library and corner the education market, Apple released iBooks Author in January to help streamline the process of publishing an ebook through the iBookstore.

The iPad maker's new system was met with some controversy as it seemed licensing rights seemed to restrict the commercial distribution of content created with the new iBooks Author app. The issue was later clarified, however, and Apple revised the agreement to reflect a restriction only applicable to the .ibooks format.

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post #2 of 128
If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Apple's policy is very clear. If the author chooses to violate it, they shouldn't be whining about Apple dropping their book.

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.
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post #3 of 128
Something tells me this was done intentionally just to make a stink. You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about Apple vs Amazon and others who wanted to have Apps in the App Store that linked outside the store to purchase content to avoid paying Apple their 30%.

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post #4 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Apple's policy is very clear. If the author chooses to violate it, they shouldn't be whining about Apple dropping their book.

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.

Exactly. This is the first time I've ever heard of this guy. Good PR stunt.
post #5 of 128
So what if it's commercially motivated censorship? They're a private entity. They're allowed to censor their properties and stores and the content that is sold through it. If they think that books glorifying the Holocaust would hurt their image and sales, then they have every right to refuse to sell it. There's nothing wrong with that.

"Censorship" is not always bad. It's just bad when it's done by the government, because the government is backed by guns and can send you to prison.
post #6 of 128
1) This guy sounds annoying.

2) Stores have the write to sell the products they want so those that are going to claim that Apple is using a monopoly position (which is doesn't have) or illegal antitrust actions (which don't exist) can STFU now. If I released a book for the Kindle that linked to iBookstore or B&N bookstores the scenario still holds.

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post #7 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

Something tells me this was done intentionally just to make a stink. You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about Apple vs Amazon and others who wanted to have Apps in the App Store that linked outside the store to purchase content to avoid paying Apple their 30%.

There are no in app purchases in iBooks.

The accusation, if true, is pretty low. Let's say I wrote a book on how to build a DIY computer and linked to Amazon for items of a computer parts list used for building said computer, would Apple block it? Probably, they sell computers too, right?

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post #8 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Exactly. This is the first time I've ever heard of this guy. Good PR stunt.

Same here. Definitely a PR stunt.
post #9 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Apple's policy is very clear. If the author chooses to violate it, they shouldn't be whining about Apple dropping their book.

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.

Good analogy. I agree completely.
post #10 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Same here. Definitely a PR stunt.

I haven't heard of him either but his web page reads: "SETH has written more than a dozen worldwide bestsellers that have been translated into more than thirty languages."

The article did say he was a prolific author.

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post #11 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Which rule was it he broke?

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post #12 of 128
This sounds like something that would have gotten a terse response from the sjobs @ apple.com account.
post #13 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

1) This guy sounds annoying.

2) Stores have the write to sell the products they want so those that are going to claim that Apple is using a monopoly position (which is doesn't have) or illegal antitrust actions (which don't exist) can STFU now. If I released a book for the Kindle that linked to iBookstore or B&N bookstores the scenario still holds.

Yes, but it is an interesting 'situation'. In an e-book you can publish links in your bibliography and references, and really, not doing so would be petty. So if those links genuinely all point to works available at your competitor's stores, and if there is no publishing house involved, what do you do?

I am not sure this is exactly the scenario here, but it is, or will become important if authors publish directly through the digital outlets.
post #14 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Exactly. This is the first time I've ever heard of this guy. Good PR stunt.

Seth is a very popular author. His books read like his daily blogs, short, sharp and engaging. I have also heard him speak and he does a good job with that too. If you know Seth, you know that he is a big fan of apple (he had a very cool tribute to Steve Jobs - see below) and also a big fan of Amazon Kindle books. I understand why he would make a stink, but he does not have ground to stand on.

A eulogy of action - by Seth Godin

I can't compose a proper eulogy for Steve Jobs. There's too much to say, too many capable of saying it better than I ever could.

It's one thing to miss someone, to feel a void when they're gone. It's another to do something with their legacy, to honor them through your actions.

Steve devoted his professional life to giving us (you, me and a billion other people) the most powerful device ever available to an ordinary person. Everything in our world is different because of the device you're reading this on.

What are we going to do with it?
post #15 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

There are no in app purchases in iBooks.

The accusation, if true, is pretty low. Let's say I wrote a book on how to build a DIY computer and linked to Amazon for items of a computer parts list used for building said computer, would Apple block it? Probably, they sell computers too, right?

The thing is that we are not talking about a bill of materials, we are talking about a bibliograpgy which typically includes title, author, publisher and copyright date. He chose to throw in the link to a specific store.
post #16 of 128
Apple's lawyers gonna earn their keep with suing everyone and now dealing with antitrust issues.
post #17 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Apple's policy is very clear. If the author chooses to violate it, they shouldn't be whining about Apple dropping their book.

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.

Indeed. Apple is a store and has very right to just refuse it without giving a reason.

This guy is clearly trolling for press.
post #18 of 128
i'll wait for the movie.
post #19 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by realitycheck69 View Post

Apple's lawyers gonna earn their keep with suing everyone and now dealing with antitrust issues.

Spare us the trolling nonsense will you.
post #20 of 128
Those of you who are so quick to side with Apple on this one give me the chills.

Is iBookstore a bookstore or not? Will it respect the work of an author, or censor a book's contents?

Apple would like us to think of iBookstore as a bookstore, and wants us to rely on it for our book purchases. It wants us to use iPads and iPhones to read these books. As consumers rely on digital bookstores more often, we stop going to brick and mortar bookstores, and they go under. (A large Barnes and Noble in West L.A. just closed, leaving only two other B&N within a 20 mile radius.)

If we bend over backwards to see Apple's "right" to protect its competitive advantage--just some offensive links, after all--we start down a slippery slope. Pretty soon, digital bookstores are all that will be left. As consumers, we protect our own interests by having a zero tolerance attitude toward any company--even our beloved Apple--deciding what is and isn't kosher to be in a book. (And of course this isn't about pornographic, indecent, or hateful speech.) It was information that Apple simply didn't like.

A book is a powerful example of our free speech system. It just doesn't wash to have non-offensive material rejected, for any reason. And Apple has overreached before in its policies and relaxed them after an outcry, so having an opinion on this could definitely straighten them out.

If Seth Godin--who is a real author--were to have written, "How to use Amazon.com," is Apple saying, as a bookstore it would reject that book? Apple needs to be bigger than that. A company with 95 billion dollars in the bank can afford to respect the free speech that it tries to align itself with. "The crazy ones" in its famous ad campaign would hopefully cringe at Apple's decision.
post #21 of 128
The title should be changed to Ignorant Person gets their book rejected by Apple and then whines about it, non-news story of the day, definitely not breaking news.

And besides the Unabomber, who the hell writes manifestos?

You can't whine about Apple rejecting your book for inclusion in it's bookstore when you contain many links in your book which goes outsides of Apple's bookstore and leads directly to a competing store.

That's plain common sense, and if you don't like it, then take your business elsewhere.
post #22 of 128
This isn't 'censorship', it's denial of commerce, which is completely within Apple's rights. If the bibliography links were just text, no problem. The fact that they are, as links with affiliate ID's embedded, business transactions, is the issue.

Imagine an author unilaterally setting up a pop-up retail stand selling books inside a Barnes & Noble store... Not cool, right?

'Censorship'' is a shameful exaggeration...
post #23 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.

It's a bit of a slippery slope though:

What if, instead of a Target gift card taped to the cover, there was a redemption code in the book? What if the book simply recommended Target because the author likes it? What if it was a story which involves shopping at Target at some point?

The same goes for Amazon linking. Maybe a direct link goes too far, but what if it was just a written link? Or just a recommendation because the author likes it?

At what point does it become censorship?

There are plenty of movies which have carefully crafted product placements (which help pay for the production of the movie). What's the difference?
 
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post #24 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If you don't like the rules, don't sell your books on the Apple store.

Apple's policy is very clear. If the author chooses to violate it, they shouldn't be whining about Apple dropping their book.

Someone had a good analogy on another site. Would Walmart be happy if you wanted them to sell a book that had a Target gift card taped to the cover? Obviously not - nor should they be.

I agree with this. Distributors aren't required to sell every book. They have the right to refuse to carry a work, for any reason. Commercial reasons are understandable. I don't quite get what Godin finds surprising or objectionable about that. In any case, it's a free market issue. If Apple refuses to sell Godin's book and it makes a lot of money, that's Apple loss. iPad users can still read the book using the Kindle app.

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post #25 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Yes, but it is an interesting 'situation'. In an e-book you can publish links in your bibliography and references, and really, not doing so would be petty. So if those links genuinely all point to works available at your competitor's stores, and if there is no publishing house involved, what do you do?

I am not sure this is exactly the scenario here, but it is, or will become important if authors publish directly through the digital outlets.

Bibliographies don't have to be hyperlinks. It doesn't sound like we're talking about a list of titles in the appendix and it sounds like this guy's modus operandi is to capitalize on using his Amazon account to turn a profit. Apple doesn't have to accept that just as Amazon doesn't have to accept that if books link to iBookstore.

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post #26 of 128
Right or wrong, I believe that any entity that owns their private store, doesn't have to sell a product if it doesn't want to. If I owned a book store and didn't want to sell porn or white supremacy or religious books, or even a book from an author I didn't personally like, then I just wouldn't sell it. My store, my choice of books. If the author or groups of those certain people didn't like it, then they should just go somewhere else to sell it or buy it. If my store has thousands of books and I reject a few, that's my privilege.

What's this nonsense that Apple has a responsibility to sell a book it doesn't want to? This author can sell his books on Amazon or the almighty Android platform. Apple isn't blocking him from doing that. I realize that Apple has some set rules for selling books, but as near as I can tell, they can change the rules anytime if they want and still be well within their rights. This author can complain all he wants about freedoms, but Apple also has freedoms to run their store as they see fit.

You'd figure that deleting a simple Amazon ID link wouldn't be that hard to do and the book would pass with flying colors.
post #27 of 128
Frankly selling books with DRM puts us right back to where we were with incompatible music formats/stores.


There is no money in interoperability and thus the digital transition is all about walled gardens and platform locking.

Seth is a writer that I admire and I don't blame him for voicing his concern but at some point you just have to realize that interoperability isn't going to happen until all parties decide its for the best or consumers revolt.
He's a mod so he has a few extra vBulletin privileges. That doesn't mean he should stop posting or should start acting like Digital Jesus.
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post #28 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_sanders_aia View Post

This isn't 'censorship', it's denial of commerce, which is completely within Apple's rights. If the bibliography links were just text, no problem. The fact that they are, as links with affiliate ID's embedded, business transactions, is the issue.

Imagine an author unilaterally setting up a pop-up retail stand selling books inside a Barnes & Noble store... Not cool, right?

'Censorship'' is a shameful exaggeration...

Shameful? To decide what an author can and can't link to is censorship. From Apple's own Dictionary app: "the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts."

eBooks have the ability to link to things. It is one of the benefits of that format. Linking to whatever an author wants to link to is an author's job to do. The idea that an author is going to threaten Apple's business through in-book links is ludicrous. And it's something that Apple should have thought about before getting into the market of being a bookseller. Books are good at subverting the powers-that-be, and Apple supposedly is a champion of independent thought.

I have a feeling that some of you are OK with censorship, if it is done by an entity you approve of. My point is, the practice can go against you real quick, and as readers we should find Apple's decision to go "between the covers" of a book, and reject inoffensive contents, unacceptable.
post #29 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Apple doesn't have to accept that just as Amazon doesn't have to accept that if books link to iBookstore.

If Amazon were to pull a book because it contained direct links to the iBook Store, then I'd say good for Amazon! That is plain common sense and some people are so dense.
post #30 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


And besides the Unabomber, who the hell writes manifestos?


Communists.

And the Free software Foundation.
post #31 of 128
Just wondering if the printed version (if there is one) has the Amazon link printed in it.

This is not a free speech issue - enough with the 'what ifs'. Take out the link to amazon and the book is exactly the same. Besides who reads bibliographies?
post #32 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

There are no in app purchases in iBooks.

The accusation, if true, is pretty low. Let's say I wrote a book on how to build a DIY computer and linked to Amazon for items of a computer parts list used for building said computer, would Apple block it? Probably, they sell computers too, right?

There aren't in-app purchases, but you could set it up to perform similarly by having the link go straight to a "buy it now" webpage. This is probably why Apple wouldn't let this App in.

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post #33 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrim850 View Post

I have a feeling that some of you are OK with censorship, if it is done by an entity you approve of.

I know what you mean. Apple recently pissed me off big time. I'd been working hard on this iOS game called Ninja Pussies from Hell HD for over 5 months, and can you believe that they had the nerve to reject my app? They cited some silly rule about offensive sexual content. My pussies didn't even look like real pussies, these were 8 bit pussies and I don't see why Apple didn't allow my app.

I also had a few direct links to the STEAM store in my app, but I'm not sure if that too had anything to do with it getting rejected.

Where the hell is my freedom of speech? I'm so damned mad that I'm about to go outside and occupy something, or at the very least, maybe I'll piss on a cop car.
post #34 of 128
The problem here is that there's no valid analogy in this case to paper/analog books, distribution or sales. In a traditional scenario, the bibliography lists references to sources by citing their title, author, publisher, etc. There was no commercial connection and therefore no conflict of interest. A reference to a book was not an endorsement of that book, since the info was available (assumedly) for free at one of millions of public libraries. There is no digital public library (yet). So for digital sources of material, online bookstores are the only go-to. A link in a bibliography is therefore more than citing a source, it's an advertisement for the book. And even if the link is to a hard copy of a book, its still an endorsement because it's linking to a sales site. The proper way to handle this would be to link to a reference site such as wikipedia or to the author's website. Linking directly to a seller isn't just violating Apple's rules, it's poor taste.
post #35 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I know what you mean. Apple recently pissed me off big time. I'd been working hard on this iOS game called Ninja Pussies from Hell HD for over 5 months, and can you believe that they had the nerve to reject my app? They cited some silly rule about offensive sexual content. My pussies didn't even look like real pussies, these were 8 bit pussies and I don't see why Apple didn't allow my app.

I also had a few direct links to the STEAM store in my app, but I'm not sure if that too had anything to do with it getting rejected.

Where the hell is my freedom of speech? I'm so damned mad that I'm about to go outside and occupy something, or at the very least, maybe I'll piss on a cop car.

How are links to Amazon relatable to the offensive content you laid out. They're not. That's the point.
post #36 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrim850 View Post

I have a feeling that some of you are OK with censorship, if it is done by an entity you approve of. My point is, the practice can go against you real quick, and as readers we should find Apple's decision to go "between the covers" of a book, and reject inoffensive contents, unacceptable.

So if you own a store, you should be forced to post ads of competing stores in your own store? You think that's okay?
post #37 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrim850 View Post

How are links to Amazon relatable to the offensive content you laid out. They're not. That's the point.

It's not the apropos example but the essence is exactly the same: retailers can choose to sell the products they want.

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post #38 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

Right or wrong, I believe that any entity that owns their private store, doesn't have to sell a product if it doesn't want to. If I owned a book store and didn't want to sell porn or white supremacy or religious books, or even a book from an author I didn't personally like, then I just wouldn't sell it. My store, my choice of books. If the author or groups of those certain people didn't like it, then they should just go somewhere else to sell it or buy it. If my store has thousands of books and I reject a few, that's my privilege.

Of course you're right.

As an Apple customer and shareholder, though, this bums me out because I personally don't want to frequent businesses that behave this way, and I suspect that some portion of the population agrees with me.

I certainly recognize their right to do it. But it will cause me to take my business elsewhere.
post #39 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by igxqrrl View Post

Of course you're right.

As an Apple customer and shareholder, though, this bums me out because I personally don't want to frequent businesses that behave this way, and I suspect that some portion of the population agrees with me.

I certainly recognize their right to do it. But it will cause me to take my business elsewhere.

And just as a retailer has the right to sell a product that advertises for a competing a retailer you and I have the right to not buy from a particular retailer if we don't like something about the way they do business, regardless of the validity of the reason. Long live the free market!

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post #40 of 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's not the apropos example but the essence is exactly the same: retailers can choose to sell the products they want.

Read the TOS of this website. Offensive material--as defined by the Supreme Court, etc. ages ago--is not allowed on these forums. That kind of material has been acceptable, via public opinion, to suppress. To go to the extreme and say, "if there's any censorship, than all censorship is OK," is false. Some censorship, of vulgar and offensive/hateful speech, has been done by some companies (but not Amazon.com, if you go to their eBookstore. There is stuff that will melt your eyeballs there.)

Now we have commercially-motivated censorship, which is what Apple's decision is. The material in question offends no one. It hurts no one. It would meet no prurient standard by any judge in any courtroom. For Apple to make this decision is purely unilateral, based on Apple's perceived fears of competition. It does not benefit the customer, and the precedent that Apple sets here has a chilling effect on the potential for other kinds of subjective censorship in the future.

If you don't see how this could happen, then you might want to a buy a book on history.
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