John Wiley & Sons, a leading publisher of technology books, said Apple Computer has removed all its titles from the shelves of Apple...
SAN JOSE, Calif. — 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 a soon-to-be published biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The books vanished last week from the stores, including four in the Seattle area, after a month of increasingly contentious discussions about “iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business,” said author Jeffrey Young. The book, co-written with William Simon, offers an unflinching account of the rise, fall and rebirth of one of Silicon Valley’s most charismatic figures.
The dust-up comes as Apple is embroiled in a legal battle with three Web sites over their right to publish information about unreleased company products. Late last year, the company went to court to discover the source of information leaked to the Apple news sites.
Wiley executive Kitt Allan said it became clear Apple wasn’t happy with the book’s publication.
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“Recently, the meaning of that became clear when Apple told us that our technology books were immediately being pulled from their Apple retail stores. But of course, Wiley stands behind our authors,” said Allan, publisher for Wiley’s general-interest books.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on Young’s book or whether the company had removed Wiley publications from its stores. An Apple executive was given an advance copy of the book, a person familiar with the situation said.
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.
It’s not unprecedented for a company to protest publication of what it finds unflattering.
IBM staged a six-year advertising boycott of Fortune magazine after Louis Gerstner, its former chairman and chief executive, took exception to a 1997 cover story with the headline: “The Holy Terror Who’s Saving IBM?”
More recently, General Motors withdrew its ads from the Los Angeles Times to protest an April 6 review of its Pontiac G6.
Branding experts warned Apple’s approach to the unauthorized biography could backfire by stimulating sales of the book.
“Apple is potentially giving them much more fuel to work with in getting broader sales and recognition for the book that evidently Apple feels is unwarranted,” said Michael Draznin, a branding and marketing consultant in New York who specializes in crisis communications. “I would be thinking very carefully about that.”
iCon co-author Young said he was dismayed by Apple’s reaction. He said the book updates the Jobs biography he wrote 20 years ago, “The Journey is the Reward.”
The latest book retraces Jobs’ early days as a computer maverick and chronicles his failure with NeXt. But it also documents his triumphant return to Apple, the successes of the iMac and iPod and his role in remaking animation through Pixar.
“One of the things I’m amused by, the original book was quite negative. It leaves you the impression of this young guy who was quite a jerk, has no social graces, has a lot of skill but may not be worthy of acclaim,” said Young. The new book reflects a matured Jobs. “I really think he learned a lot when he failed,” Young said.