Today’s San Jose Mercury-News (registration required) reports that Apple is taking another shot at an author who dares to criticize:
John Wiley & Sons, a leading publisher of technology books, said Apple Computer has removed all its titles from the shelves of Apple stores in apparent retaliation for the upcoming publication of a biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The books disappeared from Apple stores last week after a month of increasingly contentious discussions about publication of the book, “iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business,” said author Jeffrey S. Young. The book, co-written with William L. Simon, offers an unflinching account of the rise, fall and rebirth of one of Silicon Valley’s most charismatic figures.
The dust-up with Wiley comes as Apple is embroiled in a legal battle with three Web sites over their right to publish information about unreleased company products. The Cupertino company went to court to discover the source of information leaked to the Apple news sites. Several news organizations, including the Mercury News, have filed a brief in support of the sites’ right to publish. …
Wiley books were not on the shelves of a Newport Beach Apple store Monday. Clerks at 11 other Apple stories said Wiley books were “out of stock” or otherwise unavailable.
The removal of the Macintosh-related titles, including New York Times columnist David Pogue’s popular “Macs for Dummies, 8th Edition” book, reflects the company’s fierce efforts to manage its public image.
I would completely understand if Apple decided not to sell Young’s book in its stores. But applying economic pressure on the publisher in an effort to get them to suppress the book or censor its content is reprehensible and shows a complete lack of respect for its customers. Apple has a completely undeserved reputation as an icon of the counter-culture. Through the years, their actions have been downright Stalinist.
The whole story reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Neville Brothers albums, Brother’s Keeper: “It’s freedom of speech. As long as you don’t try to say too much.”
Update: Welcome, Macsurfer readers. Those who object to the reference to Stalin must have skipped advanced political science and history classes. Here’s a good refresher from Wikipedia:
Stalin argued that … political repression was necessary … Tolerance inside the Party to those who disagreed with the official Party line was called by Stalin “rotten liberalism“. He believed such tolerance would make the Party weak and eventually lead to its destruction. As a result, he argued that purges were sometimes necessary.
Apple doesn’t seem to have a high tolerance for dissent, criticism, and open disagreement.