It's gratifying to see this community respond to what I'm saying, seriously. It doesn't happen often in a forum. You guys are spot-on in your responses. Very cool.
I do see ignorance, however, in the definition of the term censorship. It is not simply a definition applied to governments, any more than racism is simply done by governments. Both are enacted by powers-that-be, which can stifle expression, or advancement, of an individual or group.
Apple has been ramping up its influence in our society, from making insanely great computers, to internet-enabled devices, to selling music, movies, and now books. As I've said repeatedly, when Apple went into the business of selling books, it crossed a line of cultural seriousness. You may say that is my opinion, which only causes me to be more concerned for our society, because if you look at history, we don't burn anything but books when we want to make a statement, and we don't censor anything but books when we want to control what people are thinking and learning.
The written word has been the engine of change in our world since the beginning of ... the written word. The written word is what our democracy is founded on. We don't review the declaration of song, or watch a movie, when we want to remember what is law here, and what our country is founded on. We go to the Declaration or the Bill of Rights, or to the many other founding tomes which guide our nation's identity. (Yes, even evils like slavery, which were seen to be supported by our constitution, and were not, were combatted with books, including a now much-maligned but important work Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book which has been banned, and censored, variously.)
You may say I am flying far afield here, but I am simply trying to prove that books are different from songs and movies, in the way that books "work" in our society. Any power-that-be can suppress a reader's choices by declining a book for sale, especially a book by an author with a track-record of intelligent thought, and cultural significance. And when the reason to decline the book is arbitrary, from a cultural standpoint, and certainly a reader's, a precedent is set, whether you like to accept it or not. I don't see many of you here concerned because you don't appear to follow this closely. Apple, a world power in the marketplace, is setting a dangerous precedent.
To deny that links in an eBook are the sole authority of an author is ignorant. An eBook is a book, still, with some new functionality. Where that link points is none of a bookseller's business. Where the word censorship comes into full play is when Apple declines a work due to a certain place a link points, some being "acceptable" while others are not. Apple is taking its role as bookseller and distorting it, just as a newspaper--as another commentator pointed out--buries news unflattering to advertisers, or to its other papers, and simply leaves it out of the day's news cycle. Both are an abdication of duty for companies that have gotten into the business of words and perspective. There is no other excuse here. Apple is a sometimes bookseller, but always a voracious technology street fighter and control freak.
Apple should not be in the book business if it can't accept an eBook as having the same authorial rights as a printed book. The links were the author's choice. That 99% of you choose to view Apple's malfeasance as protecting a competitive advantage--at what cost? The sanctity of the product Apple is selling has just gone downhill, greatly.
Apple can, and does, know when media it sells was created with ill intent. As is clear, Seth Godin is not a spam bot. He is a legitimate, celebrated author. His purpose of linking to a textbook was to inform his readers. Apple does not sell said textbook. Apple wants the links removed. That is censoring the book. We are focused on Apple's conduct here, not wherever else it can be purchased. Apple says a lot about thinking different(ly) and being enlightened. Not here. With its cavalier attitude toward publishing, and greedy response to a non-event, it has shown itself to be motivated by things which real booksellers have no right to care about--what goes on inside of the legitimate, culturally significant books it sells.
Letting go of control, that it has no right to exercise in the first place, would be a good turnabout. Allowing eBooks to be books which send its readers wherever the author wants readers to go would respect the free market. Someday, eBooks are the only books we are going to have, and we're setting up what kinds of books those will be with incidents like this. Will you do nothing?