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Apple denies sale of ebook containing links to Amazon

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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:

I think that Amazon and Apple and B&N need to take a deep breath and make a decision on principle: what’s inside the book shouldn’t be of concern to a bookstore with a substantial choke on the marketplace. If it’s legal, they ought to let people read it if they choose to. A small bookstore doesn’t have that obligation, but if they’re seeking to be the one and only, if they have a big share of the market, then they do, particularly if they’re integrating the device into the store. I also think that if any of these companies publish a book, they ought to think really hard before they refuse to let the others sell it.

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.