We're talking entire books who's sole purpose is to promote or support the use of Amazon. Clearly Apple has no problem with those.
My reading of this is a complete miscommunication. Nowhere in Apple's email does it state they had a problem with content. I really have no idea how she jumped to that conclusion. The very simple and likely explanations are either (1) she did not remove all links or (2) the reviewer did not closely check to see if she removed all links.
People make a big deal of it when it first comes out and bash Apple when its on the front page of HN.
Now that it has turned out to be false, it is no longer on the front page of HN.
Next time someone says something bad about Apple, the denizens of HN will talk about how "apple's always censoring" and this will be one of the stories they're talking about.
Just as they said effectively the same thing in this comment.
HN has been overrun with ideology. It is a shame.
If not, I don't know, but having followed her news letter I would be more than a little surprised if she were fudging things here, it gives her no real benefit.
No. This makes the assumption Apple applies it's rules equally. It does not. Making the assumption that X got approved, so Y should get approved as well is a poor assumption.
Your best bet is to try and stick to the rules. And if you get denied, just resubmit and hope the next reviewer approves it.
There is the occasional mistake, but the very telling thing about this article is she never tells us the specific rule that she broke. Hiding this information is important for making it look like Apple is arbitrary.
But the thing is, when you're rejected by Apple, they cite the specific rule.
Since there are lots of books about Amazon in the bookstore, and since there is no rule against publishing books about Amazon, this story does not add up.
 Every rejection resulted in me immediately getting pissed off, much like the original OP. But once I calmed down I realized either I misunderstood the rejection, and the fix was easy and the rejection was legitimate, or the rejection was due to me making an error that would produce a bad experience for the customer, sometimes because I misunderstood the guidelines, occasionally because I was being lazy without realizing it, and often just because of a mistake or bug.
Since Apple is uniform in the way they apply the rules, and the rules are not so specific as to cover specific bugs, it does take some interpretation to figure out what they are saying. If you don't take that step, its easy to fly off the handle and assume Apple is being arbitrary when they aren't. The reality is, it just means you didn't take the time to read what they wrote you and comprehend it.
Of course the rejections feel personal, and I won't tolerate a company that won't play by its own rules, but they've never been unfair to me, and other than a few mistakes that were corrected, I'm not aware of them being unfair to others.
However we get a lot of these kinds of stories where someone says one thing, but they never cite the specific rule, or are evasive, which indicates that they're just trying to get publicity and were really rejected for other reasons.
I was just meaning that if you were to go and try and find out whether apple were applying their rules reasonably equally, then you would need a lot more data than just the submissions of one individual, purely by the definition of what you are trying to research.
You reject it because I talked only about my experiences, and my experiences go against your prejudice.
Yet every other commeenter in this thread is making assertions, without providing any evidence what-so-ever. Often very broad assertions about how apple regularly censors.
Your are blinded by your bigotry to the fact that those assertions are completely unsupported.
And since Hacker News is overrrun with unthinking ideologically oriented people like you, no useful discussion can happen in these debates.
> That makes no sense as an argument.
You are so anti-intellectual you can't even recognize an argument.
It is sad to see so many people who cannot think.
> Book file contains links from competitors: Amazon, in the chapter Q&A 6, under “Question 9″
I'm sure books dedicated to Amazon will contain links to them, so I think this just adds a little bit more evidence to the stories of Apple's inconsistent review process.
Thus, it is not only possible but likely for both the linked story and an iBookStore full of Amazon-related books to co-exist.
When we submitted the book for review, it was rejected because we had quoted some books and included footnotes with links to the Amazon pages of the source materials. I double-checked the CreateSpace guidelines, and there was no reference to this requirement. When I spoke to a customer service representative, I received no helpful information, just something along the lines of, "This is the policy and no books will be approved for printing unless there is adherence." When I asked why the policy wasn't publicly documented, the person with whom I spoke, polite though she was, offered no explanation (nor any apology).
I don't recount this incident to suggest that what Apple has done here is mitigated in any way since Amazon has behaved similarly (and for all I know CreateSpace has updated its guidelines in the intervening months). My point is simply to note that organizations utilize this prerogative when they are in a position to vet the products they offer. It could be Apple, Amazon, a public library, a restaurant. Really, almost any establishment.
Personally, I'd like all of these organizations to be upfront with their policies, but they usually don't take this approach. Typically, this isn't an issue to consumers. What's different here (e.g., with the Apple content stores), I think, is our expectations. We accept that most restaurants aren't divulging what factors are involved in purchasing the ingredients used. The public library doesn't give clear guidance regarding what subjects it pursues for the books on its shelves. The doctor doesn't always explain why one drug prescription is better than the alternatives.
No, I don't think our regular acceptance of those behaviors is what we should bring to a situation like this one with Apple. Actually, quite the opposite. I would hope many of us would bring similar levels of scrutiny to other areas of life which are likely to be more beneficial to many. It seems to me there is much more to gain from critical analysis of something like drug approval methods than, say, whether Airfoil Speakers is in the App Store.
Librarians do make more of an effort to be conscientious and transparent. There is considerable emphasis on ethics and the importance of an unrestricted public discourse in library-science degrees, and there is a general ethos that these things matter and should be considered carefully. The American Library Association is also quite active in trying to make sure that's carried out in practice, organizing public discussions of library-related ethics and decision-making, publishing best practices, and raising a ruckus or bringing lawsuits if necessary.
I long for the day when most start saying, "I wish Apple had Google's self-confidence."
Please do not second guess users!
see here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4306480
I've grown to accept Apple's App Store policies for the sake of keeping app quality high. However, when it comes to distributing content that people actually use to learn new things and enrich their lives, there is absolutely no room for this type of policy. To anyone who is selling their books via Apple: GTFO right now.
I mean, yes this is clearly terrible, but if you're surprised by Apple doing this then you haven't been paying much attention the past few years.
I don't begrudge people who choose to use Apple products, they certainly have their charms, but I do get slightly annoyed when they are suddenly offended when Apple does something like this because post-App Store Apple pulls crap like this all the time.
It's sad to see the awful attitudes a company can get away with when it makes such sleek and wonderful products.
It's not that I'm surprised that Apple would do this. I am just shocked that the definition of "book" could change in front of everyone's eyes and the common person will ignore it because they enjoy Apple's "magical" devices.
> pulls crap like this all the time.
...Barnes and Noble’s budget electronic edition of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” had searched for and replaced all incidences of the word “kindled” (a variant of the name of Amazon’s e-reader, of course, but also a legitimate English word) with the word “Nookd.”...
Um, wut? OK, you probably meant ebooks, but iBooks -- created by iBooks Author -- can be bought only from Apple.
Apple can, and will, decide what expression will be published. It's not a platform, it's more like a newspaper classified section, with bias.
That's what I used to believe their business was.
Now, it's clear that an iBook is not a book. It is a digital material sold to people who like to consume content via their pretty and pricy devices. I agree that Apple makes it fun to consume content their way. And I'm sure that for the most part, people can still mostly absorb all the same knowledge that they would from a traditional paper book. But, this content has to be approved and modified to be consumed and therefor, it is not a book.
So the reason I am not comfortable with all this is for the reason I stated above. I was essentially tricked into believing they were selling books. Now that probably sounds extreme. But, the truth is that I am an educated "tech person" who looks at this stuff every day, and I did not think about this problem until now. The people they are trying to sell to are those in education, who are going to be raising and educating young people by reading these iBooks. When I was a kid, we were taught that books were magical and that the more we read, the more open our minds would become. In elementary school, we made us sing songs about books to make reading seem more fun and appealing.
If schools are adopting this form of content, then they are telling young people that the best way to learn things is via a model that is filtered (simply to increase Apple's profits).
Major distribution has always meant going through filters. The publishing houses reject most of the stuff that comes through their doors, and bookstores only buy a fraction of the stuff that the publishing houses put out. If you are scandalized that Apple rejects one book out of millions, I can only suppose it's because you aren't familiar with legacy publishing. Traditionally, only a tiny fraction of books ever had a chance to be seen by readers.
(I say this not to defend Apple, per se, but to illustrate how good writers have really got it now if this is considered a subject of outrage. Just ten years ago, getting rejected was the expected outcome of trying to get a book published!)
And yes, you are right. I am admittedly ignorant to the nuances and history of publishing, and am thus probably neglecting to look at this from different angles.
They have actively worked to disable any other store - for example, the kindle app cannot allow purchases or even link to the kindle store online, you have to manually search out links online instead, then download. It's absurd, not in the users' interests, and an abuse of Apple's power over the platform, but that's what Apple require.
There are plenty of alternate options to iBookStore. Nobody is forcing you to use it.
If book stores are curating simply based on physical space then all of them would pick the top 1000 books in order to maximise profits. But they don't. They curate based on the type of books THEY want to sell and that represents them.
Thats not creepy at all.
And this one message travels the world. For our standards, here in Holland, the app store policy representa fundamentalistic christian values. If they keep this up,we might actually see legislation concerning allowing side-loading.
Its about one thing: extorting content producers, by limiting access to consumers. And they will eventually get into legal trouble. Its textbook anti-competitive, and if they ever get big enough to be a "monopoly" every aspect of their policy would need to change.
Regardless, this is a bullshit move from Apple, and it's starting to wear on me. And that's saying something, because I do love their products and forgive many missteps because I really do love their products.
I am in this case amazed to find a book store refusing to stock a book on professional writing because the book contains details of other book stores that a writer might find useful, or for them to suggest to the author that those elements be removed from the book as a condition of sale.
The comparison is absurd anyway as the main drive for the selection process of what to stock in a brick and mortar bookshop is the limits of physical space in a bookshop, which is not really an issue for ebook stores.
I'm not saying she is dishonest, maybe just misinformed or wrong. It seems like everytime stuff like this comes up it turns out there was important information left out.
'I received an email from Apple’s iBookstore that How To Think Sideways—Lesson 6: How to Discover (or Create) Your Story’s Market has been pulled for containing links to a “Competing Website” and that in order to have the lesson put back on sale, I’ll have to remove the offending links.'
I'm strongly inclined to believe that she is being truthful and fair in representing that received email based on her tone and responses in the comments [at least] of her site. She seems only concerned with allowing students using Apple products to buy an uncrippled/non-bawdlerised product.
>I doubt just saying the word "Amazon" can really be an instant rejection //
Indeed, it appears she links to Amazon in the ebook as that is [she says] the only place that one can learn the technique she is teaching.
Apologies I think I went in too soon with that comment. It appears it is much worse for Apple:
Quoting Ms Lisle again (http://hollylisle.com/apple-made-its-decision-my-turn/?awt_l...) 'You don’t tell someone “The problem is the live links,” and then, when that person has complied with your change request and removed the live links, turn around and say, “No, no. The problem is the CONTENT. You can’t mention Amazon in your lesson.'
So it sounds like she complied by removing links and then they told her it wasn't the links but the content.
My initial thought was that it might be affiliate links she'd included but then her failure to mention such a thing would be brazen dishonesty IMO and not [accidental] situational interpretative failure or simple bias.
Book file contains links from competitors: Amazon,
in the chapter Q&A 6, under “Question 9″
As noted, however, I HAD changed the lesson, HAD removed
the links, HAD complied with their request. Since the
links were gone, their only possible objection—NOT STATED
Disclaimer: I have zero experience dealing with the iBookStore.
Saw this today and was disappointed. Think she over-egged it at least.
Neither she nor anyone else is claiming that, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here.
Furthermore, the existence of content does not mean your content/app that has the same feature will be let in. Heck, during review, you can comment on the fact that other content/apps has or does exactly what you are doing, but that does not matter in any way.
Apple doesn't have an obligation to sell anything and everything. It's their store. They choosing to not sell something isn't "bad" -- users of Apple devices can still read whatever they want.
Acting indignant like Apple has some mandate to sell anything that anyone wants is ridiculous. If you were Coca-Cola, would you let people sell Pepsi from your machines? Of course not. Is Coke bad for choosing not to sell Pepsi? Want Pepsi? Go to a Pepsi machine.
The terms of submission for the iBooks store are pretty obvious. Having that lady's book rejected shouldn't have come as a surprise. A simple RTFM would have told her exactly what would have happened when she links to competitor's stores.
You want to play ball in Apple's park, you have to follow the rules. Disagree with the rules if you want, but don't complain when you don't follow those rules and are asked to leave.
Every few months we seem to go through this Cycle of Indignity. Usually it's because of some App Store rejection. We all piss and moan about it, but for the most part, the App Store has remained a high quality experience (and a profitable one for devs) even though occasionally someone gets offended about something or another.
Put the pitchforks away -- this isn't that big of a deal. Thousands of writers sell through the iBookstore without any problems. This lady's story is an outlier in an otherwise pleasant place. Her real problem is a lack of a decent web developer.
What? What? What?
Where have you been? Apple has a record of this, and it started here:
Apple Forfeits eBooks By Banning A Comic Book!
That's before there was any iBookstore. And it's gone on since. Every now and then this issue gets publicity, people are outraged and new people wake up to it -- yet it continues.
Never has any Big Six publisher or print bookstore rejected a work or refused to carry a work because it mentioned a competitor. There would have never been a Books in Print or a Writer's Marketplace, to mention just two reference books.
It's only recently that crap like this has cropped up, with Barnes & Noble and some indie print bookstores refusing to carry print titles published by Amazon. And I think B&N was emboldened by the lack of protest over Apple's moves in this direction.
Apple has that right. And potential Apple customers has the right to say that they will not stand control freakery like that in their store.
Apple has backed down before. Like when they tried to force everybody to use Objective-C/C++ to make iOS apps.
> Acting indignant like Apple has some mandate to sell anything that anyone wants is ridiculous. If you were Coca-Cola, would you let people sell Pepsi from your machines? Of course not. Is Coke bad for choosing not to sell Pepsi? Want Pepsi? Go to a Pepsi machine.
If they want to be a general book seller, they should know they will get questioned every time they refuse to carry a book due to its content. There is no way to avoid that.
> Put the pitchforks away -- this isn't that big of a deal. Thousands of writers sell through the iBookstore without any problems. This lady's story is an outlier in an otherwise pleasant place.
What is the problem, do you think it will become a less pleasant place just from people raising questions about their policies? Why does that prospect bother you so?
Oh god, no. Not at all. These things happen all the time. This isn't an outlier. It's consistent inconsistency.
> Disagree with the rules if you want, but don't complain when you don't follow those rules and are asked to leave.
You make the assumption that you need to follow the rules to get in, or that following the rules means you'll get in. Neither is true. Indeed, there are no rules.
Seriously, I can't fathom any Apple developer suggesting that the review process is in anyway consistent.
And that's the big problem. The moving goal post. Or in this case, the invisible one. I've experienced this first hand, seen the absurdities. The inconsistent reports. It's X. No, it's Y. No, actually, it's Z. Oh wait, nevermind, you're in!
Show me a dev that thinks that App store is a high quality experience and I will show you an Apple fan boy! :-)
"Her real problem is a lack of decent web developer"
She is a WRITER. Her business process should not require a web developer and I hope that Apple does not operate on a basis that people have pocket web devs, just in case they convolute the process whereby you need native expertise to unravel.
(that comment aside, Holly does employ a web dev, and it clearly did not help her)
While pitchforks may not be necessary, the inquisition and the transparency of the process are absolutely necessary.
That's why people get annoyed, even though apple is clearly within its rights.
Perhaps it's simply my European bias speaking, but isn't this exactly why governments regulate markets? To prevent anticompetitive behaviour.
It is turtles all the way issue.
End user's view are actually affected by propaganda only when it starts hurting their bones. At the moment they are in love with Apple devices to notice.
If we ignore something, then we must be safe right?
Shallow thinking on their part as (a) they could route the links through their own affiliate account on Amazon, (b) they could cut a referrer deal with Amazon so that it appears to be a direct link, or (c) they could recommend alternative, competing books on iBookStore since they control the user experience.
I have personal experience that they are doing this same thing in iPhone apps, as they have declined an app of mine because there is a revenue model they can't tap into, and they were very clear about their intent.
I just can't work with a company that forces me to change my content/apps to fit their ridiculously greedy model. Sure, she could just go somewhere else, but Apple is in deals with Pearson and Harcourt, and will be handling a significant number of school texts exclusively.
I wonder if they'll force those partners to not mention competing services.
* UPDATE *
Now that I've mulled... I don't understand why she doesn't just upload the 2nd book to iBookstore, then link to IT in the 1st book and resubmit. Sure, it's bullshit, but Apple owns their own marketplace and can do any stupid bullshit they want. If you want to play on their field, you have to fondle, I mean use their balls.
If Amazon reciprocated, they would remove potentially 34,557 books that mention Apple, including over 80 that mention iBookstore. If they just went for books that had LINKS to apple, there's over 2,000 of those. I just don't see Amazon being as stupid as Apple, ever, that they would censor writers in this way.
"You can't mention Amazon, but we can use it."
Judging by your comment history you are also familiar with every single school in the whole world.