Someone at Apple needs to keep their finger off the big red button. No, not the nuclear codes, the one that rejects anything related to Amazon. Yes, Apple has been relatively quiet lately, but they once again angered the ebook world with another head scratcher of a rejection, this time for a guide to self-publishing. Pretty hard to discuss self publishing and NOT discuss Amazon, but that’s how Apple’s reviewers wanted it handled.
According to Teleread and Holly Lisle, the self publishing writer whose work was rejected:
Lesson 6 includes my “Amazon River” technique, in which I show students how I use a couple of useful bits of Amazon’s website software and the Amazon database to figure out how to find alternative genres for their books if they aren’t having any luck selling it in the genre they wrote it for. I’ve successfully used this technique to place both TALYN and MIDNIGHT RAIN.
This is not just essential information for writers publishing or hoping to publish commercially—it’s also the fastest way for self-pubbers to find potential new markets for their existing work.
And there is no other website in the world on which you can do this as quickly, as completely, or as successfully.
Apple rejected her submission twice, once for including links to Amazon and the second time for simply mentioning that Amazon has an infrastructure in place for this. This is either some sort of 1984-style “We have always been at war with Eastasia/We never let anyone acknowledge the existence of competitors” policy, or someone at Apple grossly misunderstood the “no live links” rule. Either way, it shows Apple still can’t understand the ebook market, and it once again makes me wonder why they bother with iBooks at all.
If Apple cared (and I don’t think they do), they would realize that self published works are a great way to start building more of an iBooks audience. If anyone has the deep pockets and contacts to give Amazon a run for their money it’s Apple. They could easily improve iBooks with a few simple steps.
One, they could offer up a spotlight on new authors and books. Amazon and B&N both do this, but Apple can do this right in the App Store and guarantee eyeballs on whatever book they feature. Heck, Apple could push for an exclusive with hot new authors by offering that kind of access and showcasing.
Two, and I fully admit this is going out on a limb, Apple could compete with Amazon’s Prime Lending Library. Maybe not as a flat rate subscription service, but as a rental service. Imagine being able to rent a book for $2.99 instead of buying it for $9.99. They could cap the rentals at a week, and maybe cap them at one at a time like Prime does, but Apple has the contacts, the pockets, and the audience. And I can almost guarantee they would get buyers and renters through that offer, as people would load up their iOS devices with rentals!
Instead, Apple loves playing this immature game of pretending Amazon isn’t a threat. It doesn’t hurt Amazon, but it sure hurts Apple…just look at the end result for Holly Lisle:
So I’m pulling ALL my work from the iBookstore today. I apologize to iBookstore fans. I tried. Hard.
But I’m done.