Developer blames Apple for ruining eBook business

BeamItDown says business no longer viable after Apple moves goalposts

Stewart Mitchell
11 May 2011

A book seller and app developer has accused Apple of pushing it out of business by changing the pricing structure for eBooks.

BeamItDown Software, developer of the iFlowReader book-reading software for iOS, sold e-books through its app. However, recent changes to the Apple charging structure, combined with publishing industry tactics, meant it was selling books at a loss.

“Apple has made it completely impossible for anyone but Apple to make a profit selling contemporary ebooks on any iOS device,” BeamItDown said in a blog post. "We bet everything on Apple and iOS and then Apple killed us by changing the rules in the middle of the game.”

The company warned readers that had purchased books using its services that they should download and backup the files to avoid losing access to them, and posted detailed instructions on how to protect their titles.

According to BeamItDown, which boasted six million downloads, the trouble started when Apple began taking 30% of the sale price of books sold through its app. As publishing pricing models meant BeamItDown already made less than a 30% cut, its margins went from minimal to negative.

"The key point here is that all sellers now get a 30% commission and Apple now wants a 30% fee," the company said.

BeamItDown was particularly bitter because it believes Apple knew that it was going to move the goalposts when it approved the iFlowReader app for inclusion in the App Store.

“After approval, we made substantial additional investments in licensing fees, integration fees, and server fees so that we could open our eBook store,” BeamItDown said.

"Apple's iBooks was already in development when we talked to the company and it certainly must have known that the future plans would doom us to failure," the company said. "It wants all of the eBook business on iOS and since it has the unilateral power to get it, we are out of business." 

Apple has yet to respond to requests for comment on the accusations.

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