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Apple Forcing E-Reader Apps to Remove Bookstores

For those who rely on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to purchase and read e-books outside Apple's own virtual bookstore, the means of acquiring virtual novels and magazines are about to get painful. On Monday Amazon's Kindle Team reported that it was forced to remove the "Kindle Store" link from within the Kindle app in order to comply with Apple's new policy changes.

"We wanted to let you know that we've updated our Kindle app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch," the Kindle team said. "The big change is that you can now use the Kindle app to read over 100 Kindle newspapers and magazines including the Economist, as well as share favorite passages from your reading via Facebook and Twitter."

"In order to comply with recent policy changes by Apple, we've also removed the "Kindle Store" link from within the app that opened Safari and took you to the Kindle Store," the team continued. "You can still shop as you always have - just open Safari and go to If you want, you can bookmark that URL. Your Kindle books will be delivered automatically to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, just as before."

Both Canada-based Kobo and Barnes & Noble have also updated their apps to remove any links to their online bookstores. By doing this, the e-book vendors won't be required to cough up a 30-percent cut on sales their apps generate. Previously they got around Apple's monetary demand by adding a link to their websites within the apps. But then in February Apple changed its rules, demanding that vendors sell all content within their apps. Developers have until June 30 to remove in-app links to external storefronts, and to add all revenue-generating content if vendors wish to sell their products within the app.

Back in May, BeamItDown Software publicly criticized Apple for its new policy, claiming that it ultimately forced the studio to shut its doors for good. BeamItdown was behind the iFlow Reader app for iOS.

"We went onto this Apple platform led on by all the Apple PR talking about being a developer, making money, etc," said co-founder Dennis Morin in an interview. "We go onto this platform expecting the game to be fair. OK, Apple wants to sell books, fine. But, then they go and change the rules so nobody but Apple can make a profit on a particular category. I mean, this stuff is unprecedented. For all practical purposes you have a totalitarian country here. And I think Apple will ultimately lose from this strategy. But let's face it, in the short term Apple needs to make more and more revenue for its stockholders. They're doing sales of $300 million a day. But they've got to make that $400 million or $500 million and so on. "

Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis said on Monday that the new rules won't allow the company to mention the online bookstore or explain to readers from within the app how to purchase books and get them onto the device. "It's very simple to do, but some people downloading the app for the first time might not figure it out," he said.

Also on Monday, CNET pointed out that Google Books disappeared from the App Store over the weekend. So far Google and Apple have not provided any explanation although it's believed that Apple pulled the app because Google would not remove the link to its online bookstore. Sounds like another lawsuit in the brewing pot.