Did you think that e-book vendors have a hard time with Apple here in the USA? Publishing Perspectives has a terrific (one might even say hilarious in some places) report on the frenetic activity engendered by Apple’s decision to launch its iBookstore in Latin America. Among other things, it asked Latin American publishers to redo their books’ metadata—and then changed its mind on how it wanted the metadata done three times over the course of several days.

Apple’s preference for prices that end in .49 or .99 means trouble for the publishers who sell their books in their own native currencies, especially since of them have fixed-pricing laws for books or e-books. And Latin American e-book distributor Libranda has found a solution that may be worse than the problem—e-book payments will be processed through the Faulkland Islands and Guyana, neither of which is especially popular among either the governments or citizens of Latin America.

“We have the awkward feeling of mindless improvisation regarding a critical market for Spanish publishers. Latin America is our second natural marketplace; we sell lots of print books there. We can’t afford not being in the iBookstore, which represents some 30% of total digital sales nowadays, but neither can we have a makeshift solution for the region” says the [anonymous] source [who discussed the situation with Publishing Perspectives].

It’s a potent reminder that expanding book sales internationally isn’t as easy as just opening the store to more domains. Licensing agreements and other financial matters can be tricky for everyone. And when you’re as powerful as Apple, you have the ability to offload most of the hassle onto your partners and publishers.


  1. Sigh! Apple’s iBookstore team seems to think it knows publishing better than authors and publishers who’ve been in the field for many years. It’s behavior shows exactly the opposite. The content, the pricing, the links, and a host of other things are simply none of its business. Apple’s iBookstore is a bookstore and nothing more. It needs to quite telling authors and publishers what they can and cannot do.

    I might add that legally, if Apple continues to dictate content, then it becomes responsible for that content. If it ‘plays publisher’ and demands that Amazon not be mentioned, then it can be sued as if it were the publisher when a book contains libel. And IP lawyers would far rather go after deep-pocketed Apple than after some little one-Mac publisher.

    Apple can’t have it both ways. Either it’s a bookstore not responsible for a book’s content and not attempting to control it, or it is a quasi-publisher who can be sued for that content.

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