Apple Computer Inc. has retaliated against the publisher of an upcoming unauthorized biography about chief executive Steve Jobs by removing dozens of other technology books sold by the publisher from Apple stores around the world.
Apple removed the books last week from all 104 of its stores after failing in a monthlong attempt to persuade John Wiley & Sons not to release "iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business," which is to go on sale within the next six weeks, the publisher said.
The book-spurning is only the latest attempt by Apple executives to crack down on writers who publish or distribute unauthorized or secret information about the computer maker. It's a strategy that experts in brand management say is likely to backfire, only adding to the notoriety of Apple's critics and encouraging sales in countless other bookstores.
"Pulling books off the shelf is a little draconian," said Rob Frankel, a brand consultant. "It reeks of repression."
"This is not the first time anybody has said anything good or bad about Steve Jobs," Frankel added. "He has a much better public brand image than one book could ever dispel."
The book's author, Jeffrey Young, says Jobs has nothing to fear from "iCon." It's a chronicle of Jobs' rise as an innovator and entrepreneur and includes details about his personal life such as his divorce and fight with cancer, he said.
"I thought the book was pretty positive and laudatory," Young said. "It covers his personal life and there is something about his illness. I wouldn't call any of it outrageous. I'm totally bewildered."
Young said Wiley & Sons sent a manuscript to Apple two weeks ago and the company responded by demanding that the publisher halt the release. Wiley & Sons decided instead to stand behind its author.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said company executives were declining to comment.
Lori Sayde, a spokeswoman for the publisher, says the company will publish the biography in its entirety.
"We're hoping that they will re-evaluate their position because we have worked very hard to establish a good relationship with Apple," Sayde said. "We're empathetic to all our tech authors who will lose out in this but we support our publisher's decision to publish this book."
Sayde did not know how much money Wiley & Sons could lose as a result of Apple's refusal to sell the publisher's books.
Cupertino-based Apple is known for aggressively protecting its intellectual property, as well as its image.
In December, Apple sued 25 unnamed individuals - presumed to be Apple employees - who allegedly leaked confidential product information in violation of nondisclosure agreements and California's Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Apple then subpoenaed the Internet providers of three online reporters who wrote about the secret products, seeking to identify their sources. The reporters, backed by major media companies including The Associated Press, said Apple's efforts could erode the media's ability to report in the public's interest.
In January, Apple sued a 19-year-old publisher of another Web site that revealed trade secrets about the $499 Mac mini computer.
Defendants in that case include Harvard University student Nicholas Ciarelli, a Mac enthusiast who publishes the Web site ThinkSecret, and unnamed sources who tipped him off two weeks before Apple officially introduced the mini on Jan. 11.