Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

Summary: The new Apple policy on in-app purchases has now caused the Kindle, Kobo, and Nook ebook stores found in the applications to close down. You can still buy books outside the app though.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware
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We have been receiving press releases for ebook apps that are getting updated to comply with Apple's in-app purchase policy and as James reported the Kobo and Nook apps were updated first. GottaBeMobile confirmed that the Kindle app was also updated so now you have to purchase ebooks outside of the applications. Apple was going to take 30% of the cost of each ebook sold through these ebook stores and with ebook margins already slim there was no way these ebook vendors could accept that.

I now wonder if people will find it better to just go with something like a dedicated Nook, Kobo eReader, or Amazon Kindle eInk device. Maybe this will spur more people to buy ebooks from the Apple iBooks store. It isn't that huge of a deal to use a web browser and purchase ebooks from these stores, but it does add another few steps to make ebook purchases. I moved to reading more books on these dedicated devices and really only read on my smartphone or tablet if I don't have an ebook reader with me. For times when I want to sit and read for a couple of hours though these eInk readers are what I go to since the experience is so much better than an application on a mobile platform.

Thanks to Jason Perlow for the screenshot below.

Will this Apple policy change have any effect on your iPad reading experiences?

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

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32 comments
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  • Nope

    I buy all my Kindle ebooks through the web browser anyway, always have.
    oncall
  • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

    So essentially, Apple did the same thing California did. Put in a policy to try and milk money from the seller, resulting in the seller pulling out entirely.

    Granted, it does make more sense for Apple, as this will probably push some to iBooks.
    Aerowind
    • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

      @Aerowind Define "making sense." It has pushed me to decide to never buy an iBook from Apple. The free reader clients with easy purchasing on the iPad and iPhone were selling points in the purchase decision versus buying a dedicated reader. Not anymore. I will also stop recommending the multi-purpose iPad to those considering a Kindle purchase. Apple really took a narrow($$$)-minded approach and it will hurt them in the long run. Reader functionality is now a big negative in the decision whether to buy an iPad or iPhone. Kindle, Nook, Android, and WP7 are the big winners with this Apple policy.
      BillDem
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @BillDem While you (and I for that matter) will not by an iPad because of this policy, there are plenty of people who still will, and now Apple has another revenue stream to lock people into.
        tbuccelli
  • So you mean Apple left iBooks as the ONLY integrated ebook store...

    Why should Apple make it easy for competitors to draw revenue from the iPad if their competitors do not offer their customers a way to acquire Apple iBooks on their Kindles Kobos, and Nooks?
    ShockMe
    • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

      @ShockMe

      Same question I'm asking. Would Amazon for instance allow Apple to sell iBooks on their Kindle devices and Kindle store, without charging Apple? Pulling Amazon customers away from Amazon books and towards iBooks?
      dave95.
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @dave95.

        This isn't even close to the same thing. Amazon created an entirely proprietary device designed solely and specifically for reading their own books - that's the point of the device.

        Apple designed a framework for other applications. Their real success with the iPad/iPhone comes from the fact that they encourage third parties to develop their own applications to extend the functionality of their devices.

        In other words, Apple started by encouraging everyone to create anything they wanted for their device and make money at it. Now, their message has changed so that you can make whatever you want, but you'll be severely gimped if you attempt to write anything that competes with something Apple wants to do themselves.

        Think about it this way - what would people say if Microsoft wanted to start taking a cut of advertising revenues generated by browsers other than IE? After all, IE points a lot more people to Bing, and anything else installed (like Chrome) competes directly with that. Why should Microsoft make it easy for them, right?

        Except if it were Microsoft, there would be an outcry and talks of antitrust investigations.
        mitbulls
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @mitbulls

        You are forgetting one important aspect to the App Store that's been there from the beginning and is no secrete to anyone, and that is the 30/70 split between Apple and third party. If your app is in the app store and is making a profit, Apple gets 30% split of the revenue while the developer take home 70%. It's that simple. Which btw that 30% is significantly lower after all is added up maintaining their store (bandwidth cost, transaction fees, server farm etc). The only difference now is Apple is applying the same policy to eBooks.
        dave95.
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @dave95.

        Except in the case of ebooks, Apple is not contributing anything. No bandwidth, no transaction fees, no server farms, nothing. The application developers shoulder all of those costs, but Apple is forcing them to sell everything through their resources in order to turn a profit on their work.

        Maybe, instead of the IE/Chrome comparison, a better example would be Azure/Amazon Cloud. What if Microsoft charged Windows/IE users an extra surcharge to access any stored content on any cloud services other than Azure?

        That seems like a similar situation. Microsoft provides the computing platform and nothing else; Apple provides the phone platform and nothing else. Microsoft has their own solution which was introduced after competitors established the market; Apple has their own solution which was introduced after competitors established the market. Microsoft's surcharge would serve to encourage users to use their own service; same for Apple. Microsoft would allow users to do what they want without charges, it would just be more complex (install another browser/dual boot Linux/etc); same for Apple.

        I know this parallel breaks down at some point; every example does. That doesn't change the fact that people are only accepting this because it's Apple. An identical move by Microsoft or any other corporation with a less-cultish following would have people screaming for blood.
        mitbulls
    • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

      @ShockMe Why should they? For the same reason they make it easy for Adobe and Microsoft to draw revenue from the Mac. Because it sells more hardware. Reader software generated more iPad sales. I know this was the case for the few people I know who purchased iPads. They would be using Kindles, otherwise. Let Apple charge $0.99 for the reader apps. What entitles them to a cut of a book Amazon sold to me, hosted on Amazon's servers, and transmitted with Amazon's (and mine) bandwidth? I downloaded the reader once and they think that entitles them to a cut of every book I ever buy? The arrogance of that makes me so angry I just want to burn all of my Apple devices, but I'll settle for never buying anything else from Apple's online stores.
      BillDem
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @BillDem I would agree if both Microsoft and Adobe hadn't used their early positions on the Mac to finance a direct competitor for the Mac platform.

        How well did it work out for Apple when Microsoft swooped in with a windowing system of their own built on top of an already strong DOS platform that IBM made the mistake of licensing from them?
        ShockMe
  • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

    Apple is a retailer selling electronic books through its app store. Amazon is a competitor that also sells e-books. I don't see Walmart allowing competitors inside its stores trying to sell items to Walmart's customers.

    This is just business and Apple is within its rights. If customers don't like it, there is always Android.
    noibs
    • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

      @noibs And Adobe is a competitor who sells video editing and photography software. And Microsoft is a competitor who sells operating systems and office software. Apple sells all of that. Yet products from both competitors are installed on a huge amount of Apple hardware. The fact that these products could be installed is a big selling point for Apple hardware. The fact that applications for Amazon, B&N, and Google bookstores were available for the iPad was a huge selling point, too. Now, it isn't.

      There is zero logic in Apple charging 30% for a book I didn't buy from them, that they didn't host on their servers, and that didn't use any of their bandwidth for me to purchase. The book never touches Apple in any way, shape, or form, yet, they want to charge me 30% of the price (because it is always the customer that pays...). In fact, they want to charge me for every book I ever purchase using those applications. I downloaded a piece of third-party software to run on my Apple hardware and Apple thinks I should have to pay them for every book I ever purchase. That's a big W-T-F are they thinking?!?!

      Apple is within its rights to screw consumers, yes. And we are within our rights to complain about the stupidity of Apple's decision. This is a big win for Kindle, Nook, Android, and WP7.
      BillDem
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @BillDem Decent win for competitors (as in iPad won't win near as many conversions) but it doesn't change anything for consumers other than the convenience of acquiring the title from the vendor they want. The agency model assures that all titles are the same price set by the publisher for all vendors. Since this is not the primary use of the iPad the loss to Apple is marginal for a payoff that includes more convenience for iBooks customers that now only have to open one application for books and one newsstand folder for periodicals.

        It's not optimum in my opinion, but for those early adopters with a significant Nook or Kindle collection the reading option remains present and the previously sold apps still function. Going forward though there will be some push back by those who are great fans of Amazon and B&N than they are of Apple.

        But let's be honest most of those heavy readers already bought a dedicated Nook or a Kindle.
        ShockMe
  • No Problem

    If I want to buy a new book from B&N, I can just log in from my Nook, or I can log in from the Nook reader app on my PC. No wait, I don't own an iPhone. So I can just buy the book from my Nook reader on my HTC HD2.
    brucegil@...
  • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

    Apple and their walled garden...<br><br>It used to be, in pre-digital days, that you could go into just about any bookstore, pick out a book you wanted, pay for it with cash or check, and walk out with that book. You could go into any other bookstore and conduct the same transaction, for the same book, with the same money, and the end products - the books - were indistinguishable from each other.<br><br>Now, in our progressive digital age, we've made this better. Apple will only sell the books they offer via iBooks. Amazon sells the (e)books they offer through the Kindle. Kobo and Nook, same story. And of course, the selection of books varies from seller to seller, not to mention that Kindle books aren't compatible with ebook readers that only handle ePub format. Yep, we sure are making things better for everyone...
    Den2010
    • And the only place you can READ them ALL...

      @Den2010 ...is on an iOS device like the iPad, the iPhone or the iPod Touch. Buying would have been nice. But, as we can see, that didn't happen.
      ShockMe
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @ShockMe I can read ANY eBook on my Kindle 3. I use Calibre (free) to convert to mobi and voila I can read it.
        bvonr@...
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @ShockMe The question now becomes "how long" - Apple may decide that the only books you _should_ read are the ones that THEY sell you through the app store. Or they could decide to start charging you per read, it is their right as they own the platform and they have already shown they will change terms as they see fit.
        tbuccelli
      • RE: Apple's in-app purchase policy change closes integrated ebook stores

        @tbuccelli
        If Apple decided that the only books you should read are the ones that THEY sell you through the app store, then they would be just like Amazon and B&N with their devices.

        If they charged per read, people would either circumvent the official process or purchase a dedicated ereader from another vendor without such restrictions.

        As it stands now, I can read titles from several different stores without having to convert or sideload any of the titles. Though not all do, I prefer my iPad for reading as most of my reading happens at night. I read news, magazines, ebooks, pdfs, web sites, RSS Feeds in mag-like apps like Zite and Flipboard.

        If I were reading only ebooks outdoors in daylight frequently, I would own a B&N Nook touch. If I could not afford an iPad I would buy a Nook Color and put some sweat into converting it to run a vanilla Android so both Nook and Kindle titles could be read on it.

        I voted with my wallet and my small collection of eBooks is almost entirely from the iBookstore.

        Others will prefer to have that one store be Amazon and read their titles on many platforms. For me this has little to no value. I never read books on my computer screen other than some PDF manuals for work and some scanned Google copies of old print titles. I never do that at home.

        Again, the other stores were NEVER integrated. They were ALWAYS web experiences and remain so. The only functionality removed was the use of the in-app webkit APIs that open an instance of Safari in the app.

        Would I have changed the previous policy? No. But then I would never have welcomed middleman business models for businesses I was planning on entering.
        ShockMe