Apple Rejects Thomas Jefferson Book App, Claiming It's Just A Book… Even Though It's Not

from the this-is-not-a-book dept

Apple’s legendary arbitrariness in keeping things out of its walled garden has struck again. As a bunch of folks have sent over, some professors at the University of Virginia have put together what sounds like a wonderful app for the iPad, which takes different early versions of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (the only full-length book he ever wrote) and allows users to compare the different versions, and to get a glimpse into Jefferson’s writing process and how his thoughts changed over time. It sounds both fascinating and like a really excellent use of tablet app technology — to do something that really would have been much more difficult to do in physical form. Except… Apple has rejected the app over and over again, claiming that it is merely “a book” not an “app” and thus needs to be formatted as an iBook, with all of the restrictions that entails. Unfortunately, those restrictions also mean that as an “iBook” it won’t do what the app is supposed to do.

But when we submitted the app to Apple for approval, it was turned down. Why? The reason the App Review Team gave (again and again) was that our app was “simply” or “just a book” (their words), and that it therefore had to be formatted in Apple’s iBooks Author program in order to be distributed through the iBookstore. We decided to play along and make a good-faith effort to convert our app into an iBook, only it doesn’t work. We cannot reproduce all of the features of our app–including some of the ones that we think the app needs to be useful to anyone–and for reasons no one has been able to explain, the iBooks Author file seems to expand well beyond the maximum size for an iBook (currently 2 GB). We’re stuck with an app that does just about everything we envisioned, that has impressed the many people to whom we have shown it on our own iPads, that does something that no app or printed book out there does–but that Apple won’t allow to be listed in its App Store. So, yes, it is possible to download an app called “Burp and Fart Piano” that does pretty much what you’d expect such an app to do, but a free, edited edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia that lets you compare Jefferson’s and Lafayette’s own copies and to zoom in on Jefferson’s handwritten corrections? No dice.

As they note, this is absolutely Apple’s prerogative, just as it’s their prerogative to point out how ridiculous this whole thing is. In the meantime, they’ve found another solution:

In the meantime, we’re looking for a programmer who can help us port our app to Android.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Rejects Thomas Jefferson Book App, Claiming It's Just A Book… Even Though It's Not”

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31 Comments
Las says:

Android stinks. Apple is evil enough, but google is a subset of the CIA – founder attends bilderberg meetings, etc. I don’t trust apple and what they instal on my devices, I don’t want to think about what google does. Besides google ripped off apple. Apple was the first truly smartphone. Android cloned exactly what apple did. It frankly should have been illegal. Too bad Jobs isn’t around. He destroy android which was his mission.

out_of_the_blue says:

NO, it's not "absolutely Apple's prerogative"...

Corporations are sheerly legal fictions that must ask public permission to even exist, and must be subject to our control, else we’ll soon be literal slaves.

Can’t you get over your notion that corporations can just do whatever the hell wished and that real live people just have to lump it? — Man, your pro-corporatist bias just pops out and reveals you every time, even when as here the corporation is visibly stupid and arbitrary.

Apple in particular (though certainly not exclusively!) needs to be taken down several notches in arrogance.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Makes A Change...

I see Techdirt has been invaded by Apple-versus-Android fanbois. Is that better or worse than the usual crowd accusing copyright/patent minimalists of ?intellectual property theft??

Disclaimer: I am a current Android/Linux, former Apple. fanboi, currently within arm?s reach of 4 Macs and 6 functioning Linux boxes (3 of them Android).

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How long do you think people will accept exorbitant prices, and year old technology?

I have not yet figured out why they do so, so I have no prediction. 🙂 I have an iPod Touch for work, and it has a really pretty screen (though some new Android devices have awesome screens too) and the performance is impeccable – never any lag, never jerky scrolling or the like. It’s also of course ridiculously thin and light. Otherwise I find my 3-4 year old Android phone preferable. So I guess people value those things enough to pay a whole lot more? Or is it really that they want the physical device to look nice? That would be sad.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s neither of those things. What it is is tribalism. Many people purchase Apple products because they feel an affinity for the Apple tribe, and don’t mind paying a premium to be a part of it. Yes, they’ll make all their arguments about Apple products being objectively superior in some way, but that’s just rationalization, not reason. The same is true for many people who purchase Android things.

There’s a reason that these disputes are called “religious wars” — they are not based on reason, but on tribalism.

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