A noted British writer has joined an exclusive literary league: authors whose writings about Steve Jobs Apple has tried to suppress.
"Apple hates personality stuff and press intrusion," Appleyard writes, "'We want to discourage profiles,' an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece."
Hats off to the Times for demonstrating journalistic backbone by publishing Appleyard's piece.
You'd think that by now Apple would have learned that trying to silence an author merely provides a flood of free publicity and juices book sales.
Take, for example, iCon: Steve Jobs - The Greatest Second Act in The History of Business, a slight 2005 work by Jeffrey Young and William Simon, published by John Wiley & Sons.
The book itself was a bit of a mess, a meandering rehash of stale tales of Apple's savior that would have died a peaceful death if Apple hadn't overreacted and yanked each and every Wiley title from the shelves of its brick-and-mortar Apple retail palaces.
Wiley publishes the popular, lightweight Dummies series, plus Apple-related titles on everything from iLife to Snow Leopard. But you still can't find them in Apple Stores, four years after the iCon offense.
Then there was 2001 dust-up over Alan Deutschman's The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House.
According to a gaggle of sources, none other than Jobs himself tried to suppress that book, phoning up Random House chief executive Peter Olsen and calling it a "hatchet job."
The story leaked, causing more publicity, more sales.
The article itself is a reasonably balanced one, contrasting the "Good Steve" with the "Bad Steve" - a conceit used by Deutschman in The Second Coming. Appleyard's Good Steve is very, very good - a "genius" - but Bad Steve is very, very bad.
Among the anecdotes Appleyard recounts is of a candidate being interviewed for a job by Jobs. "One excessively strait-laced candidate for a job at Apple bored him so much, he sprang questions like: 'How old were you when you lost your virginity?' and: 'How many times have you taken LSD?' on the poor sap. (Jobs has said that taking LSD was one of the most important things in his own life.) Then he lapsed into a chant of: 'Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble'."
The job candidate - less than thoroughly charmed, we might assume - excused himself.
Appleyard's article is more effusive in parts than we care to endure, is larded with dimestore psychoanalysis, and delves into such areas as Jobs' love life that would be better left private.
And due to Apple's attempt to quash it and the subsequent reports of that unsuccessful kiboshing, far more people are reading it than would have otherwise been the case.
When is Apple going to learn? ®