Newest App Store Controversy: e-Books

Apple's App Store has rejected an e-book over what it called "objectionable content" (meaning, the f-word, and some sexual content), citing a clause in the iPhone SDK. This is just another example of what some have called the "nightmarish" App Store approval process.

The book, Knife Music, by C|Net Editor David Carnoy, was submitted using an embedded e-reader, which is how the SDK clause came into play. Section 3.3.12 of the iPhone SDK Agreement states:
"Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."
The image at left, via Gizmodo, shows an example of the content Apple deemed too racy for the App Store. Come on, there are classics of literature that use words or scenes worse than that.

C|Net (figures) has in-depth coverage of their beleaguered editor's plight. In it, Alexandru Brie, the developer Carnoy enlisted for help with the e-book, said he believes Apple is using word-matching software to search for such content. Or perhaps Apple simply flags sections with such software and then has a human check further.

But more to the point, there's plenty of stuff on iTunes far worse than this. Just check out all the R-rated titles amongst the movies, or even the lyrics to some of the songs they sell.

Rather than rejecting a book, why not simply create some ratings categories, as they have for games or entertainment titles, like Pull My Finger?

Of course, you might remember the comment Steve Jobs made to the New York Times about the Kindle:
"It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore."
Given that, Apple may just not care. Perhaps Carnoy should have been thinking Kindle, rather than iPhone, for an e-book.