I’ll be honest, I practically live under a rock these days. But when it comes to anything related to potentially reaching more readers, I’m all ears. I’ve been on the band wagon for such supposedly “awesome” “author-friendly” apps as Book+Main, Vevo, and Mewe, just to name a few. Like everything else which has come and gone over the years, all of these apps have failed miserably when it comes to helping the “little author” build a loyal reader fan base. So when I started seeing the posts in my FB newsfeed about the new Book Boyfriend app, I started listening to see if this was going to be anything worth investing in, or just another useless app that fizzles out as quickly as it got started. And boy, oh book boyfriend, am I glad I did, because when even NYT & USA TODAY bestselling authors are afraid to touch this app, you better take note.
In a nutshell, the Terms of Service are shady as fuck for any author who signs up. It should be pointed out this app was actually created by a small group of authors. The first red flag is the app’s notice that as an author, your book won’t be promoted at all while they try to cultivate a reading community. So – if it’s not benefiting me as an author with ways to promote, what good is it? Why create an app designed to highlight books if you aren’t actively promoting books? Did I mention this app was created by a core foundation of authors? Do you see where I’m going with this?
Then there is the way they use your personal information. Now, I don’t speak lawyer, but these TOS give me all the feels – the bad feels. They agree they will retain your information, use it, keep it safe, but if said data gets transferred to a country where there are “loose” data protection laws in place, they merely say they have “security measures” in place. You are agreeing to give your personal information “voluntarily” and, of course, can withdraw your permission to use said data. However, if you choose to ask them to remove your data from usage, you “may not” be able to access the app any more. And there is this lovely clause that states they “will securely and permanently delete your personal information when there is (a) no justification for its further retention…”
And here is some more legal jargon which makes little to no sense: 6. What legal basis do we have for using your personal data?
“The legal basis we have for processing your data is based around the consent you have voluntarily provided us.”
So, what happens if you decide you don’t want to be any part of this shit-show and asked them to remove your information? Well, they’ll be happy to do it, but if they don’t and you keep asking them to stop using your data, they withhold the legal right to charge a fee for “administrative costs” for providing the information for “baseless or excessive/repeated requests…”
Now, if you are an author, here is why you should be running far, far away from this app. Basically, if you post anything to the app, such as a book cover, a blurb, an excerpt, a graphic teaser, etc., you are giving the owners of the app permission to re-use and re-distribute that content however they see fit, on any channel they see fit, and without giving the original owner of the content any attribution to said content. In other words, while you may own the content, you are giving them and any third party they want a “perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, transferrable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use, story, and copy that content and to distribute it and make it available to third parties…” – basically a free ticket to do whatever they want with your content without giving you credit as the owner and/or originator of said content.
To put it another way, they are forcing you to agree that if you upload content to their app, they can use the content however they want, without giving you credit as the creator/author, and there’s not shit you can do about it:
Now, remember above I asked why would you create an app based around books but then not offer any type of promotions for said book? And then they force authors who sign up to agree to let them do whatever they want with the content that is uploaded, which could include claiming it as their own without any credit to the creator or actual author of the book?
Of course, when authors began talking among themselves about how uneasy they felt with the TOS, the creators of the BB app immediately began crawfishing in an attempt to assure the authors via email that they “do not have the ability or legal basis to steal your content.” No, but the Terms and Conditions does give them the legal basis to USE said content without giving the author credit, and that they can adapt and amend the content at their sole discretion. It clearly states this in the TOS. Let’s take another look, shall we:
Their email appears to be them doing some major damage control when authors bring up legitimate questions about the TOS, questions which came with answers which approximated to little more than “please, let me assure you.” So long as the TOS gives them the legal right to NOT give me credit for my own content, or to edit it however they see fit, then no thanks. Like I said, when even NYT & USA TODAY bestselling authors are advising everyone to steer clear of this app, it’s time to sit up and take notice – and then run in the other direction.
**screenshot credit to those who took them