Publisher Rubs Apple the Wrong Way

Discussion
Apr 27, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Forget about hippy origins, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer isn’t about peace and love these days. He’s all about the business and attempting to control anything related to it or him, it seems.


The same man who stood on stage and applauded actor Noah Wiley, who portrayed Mr. Jobs in a not always flattering light in the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, is not at all happy about an unauthorized, albeit largely flattering biography, being published by John Wiley & Sons, iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business.


Mr. Jobs and company’s unhappiness led Apple to remove all of Wiley & Sons’ technology books from the shelves of its stores.


The book’s author, Jeffrey Young, is “totally bewildered” by the reaction of Jobs and Apple. “I thought the book was pretty positive and laudatory,” he told The Associated Press. “It covers his personal life and there is something about his illness. I wouldn’t call any of it outrageous.”


Mr. Young is not alone in questioning Apple’s recent moves to control what the public knows about the company, its products and Mr. Jobs.


Rob Frankel, a brand consultant told the AP, “Pulling books off the shelf is a little draconian. It reeks of repression.”


For its part, Wiley & Sons, plans to go ahead with Mr. Young’s book and the publisher hopes Apple will have a change of heart.


“We’re hoping that they will re-evaluate their position because we have worked very hard to establish a good relationship with Apple,” said Lori Sayde, a spokesperson for Wiley & Sons. “We’re empathetic to all our tech authors who will lose out in this but we support our publisher’s decision to publish this book.”


Moderator’s Comment: Has Apple Computer overstepped by removing books from John Wiley & Sons’ from its stores? Is it in danger of diminishing its
brand equity and ultimately product and store sales because of the actions it has taken to control what is made public about the company?

George Anderson – Moderator

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14 Comments on "Publisher Rubs Apple the Wrong Way"


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Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Editor’s note: avonboy – actually, Merriam-Webster lists “hippy” as a variant spelling for “hippie.” So this way we’re covered, in case Mr. Jobs wants to dance the hula.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Unfortunately trying to suppress this by punishing the publisher’s other authors makes Jobs looks like a jerk – much more so than the book itself could possibly portray.

But what’s with this author? If I were him, I wouldn’t be protesting that the book is “laudatory.” Who would be interested in buying a book like that? I mean, besides Jobs’ mother?

Me, I’d be screaming about my right to publish all the truthful dirt I can dig up on the guy. THAT would sell books.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 10 months ago

It is certainly his right to not sell a book that he feels is “anti-Apple” in their company owned stores. If he sells it, it would appear that he endorses it or at least condones it. One of the many nice things about having your own stores is the ability to have total control over what you sell in them. This is receiving way too much press and attention; it must be a “slow news day.”

Jay Durepo
Guest
Jay Durepo
15 years 10 months ago

Think about this for a moment. Do you really believe that Steve simply made a call and ordered his stores to pull the Wiley books? Probably not. I’m sure that action was either a last resort following numerous conversations with the publisher, or it was the fulfillment of an ultimatum Steve set forth during those negotiations. This was a thought-out, strategic move, not an irate executive’s impulsive behavior. Anyone who knows Jobs or his history knows he’s not an impulsive guy. He absolutely has the right to take such action — they’re his stores, after all. It’s not as if he’s waging a campaign to have all retailers drop Wiley-published books. There’s much more to this than your story reveals, I’m sure. And by the way, please tell your writer that “hippy” is an incorrect word choice. “Hippy” describes a person with large thighs or buttocks, while a “hippie” is a member of the ’60s-era counterculture. Steve does not have large thighs, so I’m sure he’d be properly identified as a former “hippie.”

Ronald Levesque
Guest
Ronald Levesque
15 years 10 months ago

I’m an Apple aficionado as much as the next guy or gal, but I do think this is over the line. The problem Mr. Jobs has with the book could be with its title, or part thereof… “iCon” has both the connotations of ‘icon’ and ‘con’….

Mr. Jobs may be thinking it sounds too much like the latter. Then, most people being the way they are, would judge the book and its subject by its title, and voilà, Steve Jobs can no longer be trusted….

Giles Falcon
Guest
Giles Falcon
15 years 10 months ago

Actions always have reasons. Indicating the publisher’s books withdrawal as draconian is perhaps as impulsive as the action itself. Mr. Jobs, I am pretty sure, will backtrack if there are any good reasons to do so. Looks like a case is being built out of virtually nothing.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
This Wiley matter looks like Act II in the current troubles Apple has had, which began earlier this year with Jobs’ efforts to shut down bloggers who have been leaking reports of new Apple product releases. Those proceedings have raised 1st Amendment arguments: Are bloggers journalists? Should anyone who self-publishes on the Web be given the protection enjoyed by established news organizations? The image of Apple’s lawyers subpoenaing the email records from the bloggers in efforts to uncover the source of company leaks is not a pretty one. Remember the famous 1984 Apple ad that portrayed the company as a lone warrior against the totalitarian establishment (i.e. Microsoft)? Who’s looking like Big Brother now? The reason this and the more current Wiley debate are so damaging to Apple is because of the brand image they have nurtured over the years: friend of the underdog; the creative, free-thinkers of the world. It’s to Apple’s credit that they’ve managed to sustain that public persona, given that they’re at least as controlling and protective of their turf as… Read more »
Carmen Liggett
Guest
Carmen Liggett
15 years 10 months ago
I believe he (Steve Jobs) should consider an authorized biography and award it to Wiley & Sons’ most aggressive competitor. At the time of release, abundantly stock the Apple Store and set out on a book signing tour. Make it a big, big deal! Hold the book signings in convention centers and use this time to introduce a NEW product, software, game, or offer a free Limited Edition program with each signed copy of the authorized biography sold at these special events. The public likes rebels. Look how far Howard Hughes has traveled in the minds of the public, old and young. If Jeffrey Young painted a flattering picture of Steve Jobs, then we already know it isn’t accurate. The public will quickly forget who Wiley & Sons unauthorized biographer is or was! Wiley & Sons apparently provided a great service for Apple. It would be a bad move to change publishers for instructional books and consumer manuals. Not good for the consumer, the shareholder, or the company.
Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 10 months ago

Rick, Apple is NOT trying to shut down bloggers. That has become the incorrect story circulating. Apple merely forced the bloggers to reveal the sources of their information so they could pursue action against people who violated their Non Disclosure Agreements. NDAs are seriously business and no business would allow them to be flaunted without taking action.

The current flap comes from the ruling that bloggers aren’t “journalists” who are protected from revealing their sources by the First Amendment. That is NOT the same as Apple trying to somehow stifle bloggers.

Anyway, on the book issue, keep in mind that Apple stores aren’t exactly Borders or Barnes & Noble (or Amazon). Apple only stocks a few book titles as convenience purchases for their shoppers. Pulling all the Wiley titles will probably go completely unnoticed by consumers. This is making a rather large mountain out of a molehill. Fit of pique or calculated “last resort,” it is really completely irrelevant to both companies’ sales.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Will all this have an effect on Apple’s image? I doubt it will ever get on the radar for 99% of consumers. Can’t say I know enough about Jobs’ personal life, or the author, to comment beyond that.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
It certainly is what it is, with little disguise. It’s a guy with more than a huge ego that got in the way of making a good decision. It’s certainly not unlike his entire career, which has been riddled with the same. The question is – is it really significant? Will this really damage Apple or Steve Jobs for that matter? Is the sale of books really the purpose of their stores or simply like Blockbuster having a candy and popcorn rack at the checkout? I question whether it really matters a single bit to anyone but industry insiders. Does Steve Jobs or his actions on these types of matters really even enter into a consumer’s decision on whether or not to buy an Apple product? I think not. The same type of things were done by and said about Henry Ford in his era. Neither the actions nor commentary about them had any impact on the mass consuming public that purchased his products. It’s likely that tomorrow we’ll wonder why it was even a… Read more »
George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
15 years 10 months ago

I too am an Apple fan. I have owned their computers for years and am absolutely mad over my iPod. But, Apple has become a company whose obsessive controlling ways may give them more and more problems in the years ahead. They are controlling with the few dealers they have left, bloggers who supposedly write things they don’t like, and now a publishing company. Pulling Wiley & Sons’ books from Apple Store shelves because of this book is just foolish.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 10 months ago

This is one Apple that has a got worm in it. Steve Jobs, you overstepped in pulling the books from the shelves. What was your purpose other than to be “draconian”?

Apple is a great brand. But every great brand can develop a crack. That’s what let’s light in … and competitors. Rescind your action, Steve.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 10 months ago

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.” Don’t remember who said it but it has a grain of truth. Amazing how many leaders try to control the press. It never works, but in Apple’s case it may not really matter, since they have such a cult following, and the iPod.

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