BeamItDown Software, the company behind the popular iFlow Reader eBook application and store for iPhone and iPad, has announced that it will be closing down as of May 31st, citing Apple's recent enforcement of policies forcing content providers to offer content via Apple's in app purchasing mechanism at the same prices offered elsewhere. With that mechanism resulting in Apple taking a 30% of revenue, BeamItDown Software has determined that it is not possible for small eBook sellers to operate profitably given the squeeze of in app purchasing requirements and the agency model increasingly used by publishers that fixes sales prices.
The crux of the matter is that Apple is now requiring us, as well as all other ebook sellers, to give them 30% of the selling price of any ebook that we sell from our iOS app. Unfortunately, because of the "agency model" that has been adopted by the largest publishers, our gross margin on ebooks after paying the wholesaler is less than 30%, which means that we would have to take a loss on all ebooks sold. This is not a sustainable business model.
BeamItDown goes on to describe the steps it took during the development and rollout of the iFlow Reader application as it sought to ensure that it was on the right side of Apple's terms and conditions at a cost of over a million dollars.
We put our faith in Apple and they screwed us. This happened even though we went to great lengths to clear our plans with Apple because we did not want to make this substantial investment of time and money blindly. Apple's response to our detailed inquiries was to tell us that our plans did not infringe their rules in any way, which was true at the time, but there is one little catch. Apple can change the rules at any time and they did. Sadly they must have known full well that they were going to do this. Apple's iBooks was already in development when we talked to them and they certainly must have known that their future plans would doom us to failure no matter how good our product was. We never really had a chance.
BeamItDown's closure at the end of the month means that users who purchased content through the company's store will need to ensure that their content is backed up and downloaded to their computers for viewing through alternative software should the iFlow Reader software cease functioning on future versions of iOS, as the application will no longer be updated.