Publishing to the iBookstore: Avoiding Trademark Issues

Learn from my experience.

iBooks Author CoverSome readers may know that back in early March I submitted a “Special iBooks 2 Interactive Edition” of iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook to the Apple iBookstore. The 242-page book included many interactive elements, most notably a full three hours of original screencast video.

And then I waited for Apple to approve it.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Today, after nearly four weeks of waiting, I finally heard from Apple. But it wasn’t the approval I’d been hoping for. Instead, it was a pair of “tickets” for problem in the book file and cover art.

Apple’s complaints were all pretty much in the same vein. Here’s one of them:

Copyright Page, the following text appears: “iBooks 2 Special Interactive Edition”. Your book has been ticketed because of its use of the phrase “iBook” to describe it. iBooks is the trademark for Apple’s book reading software, and iBooks Author is the trademark for its electronic book creation software. Books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software and/or sold on the iBookstore should be described as a book, ebook, electronic book or interactive book, but not an “ibook.” Please use any Apple trademarks in compliance with the Apple Trademark Usage Guidelines available at http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/guidelinesfor3rdparties.html. Note: Changing the phrase to “iBookstore Special Interactive Edition” would be acceptable.

So basically, I had described my book as a “special iBooks 2 interactive edition” and the folks at Apple didn’t like that. But they kindly suggested “iBookstore Special Interactive Edition” instead.

(I could argue here that iBookstore is just as much a trademark as iBooks, but where would that get me?)

This problem appeared twice in the book’s content, once on the cover, once on the cover art, and twice in the metadata. It took me 20 minutes to locate and fix all problems and then export new versions of the book and sample chapter. And then fix the meta data in iTunes Producer. The book is uploading as I type this.

So my point is this: be very careful about your use of the word iBooks when describing a book you create with iBooks Author. My main concern was being able to differentiate between the standard epub edition and the multimedia edition that blows it away.

Now I just hope they hurry it through the review process and don’t make me wait another four weeks.

March 31, 2012 Update: Although I addressed all issues of the tickets on my book and uploaded new files three days ago, there is still no indication that Apple has received my modified files. I don’t know if I screwed up on the resubmission or if Apple is so backlogged they haven’t marked them as received. Clearly Apple needs to rework both its iTunes Connect interface and its system for dealing with book approvals and revisions.

April 7, 2012 Update: One of the two tickets on my book has disappeared, but the other remains. Despite several attempts to contact Apple, it’s still unclear whether they realize that I have resolved this ticket. I keep getting canned responses that do not indicate whether they are following up on my problem. It seems to me as if they’re just sending out a response without even looking up the situation. I’m frustrated beyond belief at this point and angry about potential lost sales. And there’s no one at Apple who I can contact to get a definitive answer. Clearly, the iBooks Author publishing experience is broken and Apple is uninterested in fixing it.

May 28, 2012 Update: This continued to go on for quite some time, even after tickets disappeared. After a lot of nagging and nasty emails to Apple, my books finally appeared. One took 55 days for approval. The other took 75 days.

10 thoughts on “Publishing to the iBookstore: Avoiding Trademark Issues

  1. Pingback: The iBooks Author Gamble | An Eclectic Mind

  2. Maria, thanks for sharing this information. I am in the process of preparing a book and would probably have had the same issue with using the term iBook. Would welcome you sharing any other experience you have with the publication process with the iBookstore.

    • Patience is the main thing you’ll need. Glad this helped out. If you want to make the point that this book is “enhanced” for iBooks 2, go with the wording I used (which Apple apparently approves of: “iBookstore Special Interactive Edition.” And any time you use the word “iBooks” and you’re not referring to the app, be sure to follow it up with “Author.” So instead of saying “This is an iBook” say “This is an iBooks Author created ebook.”

      Good luck!

      • Thank you, Maria, your blog posts have been very helpful to me. I, too, fell into the seemingly bottomless void of iTunes connect with an iBooks Author App ebook which, lo & behold, I called an iBook on its copyright page and within the body of an interview on page, um, I think it was xxii. It took me an age to figure out that this was one of the reasons holding up approval (the others remain a mystery). Intensely frustrating and a Total Headshaker, if what they want is to do business! For what it’s aiming to do, and given it’s carefully honed brand image, Apple is acting pretty darned cloddish. I now have uploaded three books onto the iBookstore and one, after 3 months, is still pending approval. They certainly do not make it easy. And it took at least 20 hours of work on my part to format and upload the iBooks– oops, I mean ebooks made with the iBook Author app. That said, I remain in awe of the iBook Author app and hopeful that we authors can see some more competition for amazon.com. As of this writing, the Kindle is quite primitive by comparison, but amazon.com moves far — far!!!!!!– faster. Thanks for blogging on your experience with this and good wishes to you with your books.

        • It’s very frustrating and, in all honesty, it soured me to creating books with iBooks Author. I think that if my book would have come out more quickly, I probably would have published 6 more by now. But the uncertainty stalled me and now I’m on to other things.

          The good thing about it is that the book, once published, is selling relatively well and has rewarded me adequately for the work I put into it. If you have the right topic and audience, you should do well.

          Good luck with your books!

  3. Hey, Maria.

    Apple’s app-submission process is just as convoluted as the book-submission process that you’ve described. They have improved the app-submission process quite a bit in the past couple of years and hopefully it will continue to get better. Every app developer I know is hoping for this.

    Regarding the trademark issue, thanks for sharing. The more we help each other the better it gets for everyone.

    Cheers.

  4. I have been waiting for 5 weeks now. Can anyone suggest software for the mac that I can use to create an ebook that can be sold on amazon or other outlets? Thanks!

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