WHSmith Boycotts Self-Published Authors
Oct
19

WHSmith Boycotts Self-Published Authors

By

article-2295735-18C64948000005DC-879_964x631

WHSmith has announced that their online bookstore will reopen once all self-published materials have been removed. The store closed early last week due to UK Press reporting on a staggering number of digital books about incest, rape, and bestiality found in the children’s section.

“Our website will become live again once all self published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available. When our website goes back online it will not display any self published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.”

Kobo has been in the news about this entire issue because they are powering the WHSmith store with millions of titles. Their self-publishing platform “Writing Life” has no safeguards in place to prevent this type of material from being uploaded and the company is incapable of policing it. The easiest solution is to just disable the feed with all self-published materials so WHSmith can open again next week.

“Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. While some may find our measures extreme, we are confident that we are taking the necessary measures to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects readers to a wealth of books.”

Kobo does not share all of the blame for this saga, as self-published books were basically on the honor system that they were not violating any of the laws. Amazon offers a platform called Kindle Direct Publishing, which lets any author upload a book and have it listed in the Kindle digital store. One of their guidelines states ““We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” This statement is laughable because if you spend a few minutes searching the site, you will find thousands of titles in violation.

Self-Published authors are mostly to blame for this issue. In many cases if their book was a victim of the purge that all major digital bookstores initiated this week, they are simply changing the cover art, book description and title. They are then resubmitting it to Writing Life, KDP and Nook Press and having it automatically approved, because there are no humans actually verifying these books before their listed. These books once more are appearing in the children’s section because they are “gaming the metadata” and bypassing the filters.

I applaud Kobo in actually developing a core feature that will allow bookstores such as WHSmith and Whitcoulls to opt out of self-published titles. Since so many of their bookstore partners worldwide actually depend on their feed for all digital content, this is an important step forward to eliminate self-published books, until more safeguards can be established.

Michael Kozlowski (3749 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • qianqong

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt

    v

  • Albert

    It is difficult to understand this article at all. It is not the essential reporting of what transpirted and what was done that is difficult to understand, but the commentary surrounding it.

    “Kobo does not share all of the blame for this saga, as self-published books were basically on the honor system that they were not violating any of the laws.”

    So they opened the floodgates with no supervision whatsoever, depending on everyone acting ‘honorably’. What planet are they living on?

    One of their guidelines states ““We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” This statement is laughable because if you spend a few minutes searching the site, you will find thousands of titles in violation. (…) Self-Published authors are mostly to blame for this issue.

    Of course. The self-published authors are to blame. in fact, if I publish a book tomorrow via this system, independently of the content, I too will become responsible for all these abusers. In no way are Amazon or Kobo responsible, despite setting up restrictions, but doing *nothing* to enforce them.

    Indeed, we should applaud them for their foresight and righteousness. Darn self-published authors!

  • http://marilynnbyerly.com/ Marilynn Byerly

    In a show of good faith, I suggest that WMSmith donates all profits it has made from FIFTY SHADES OF GREY which started out as self-published erotica to charity. They then should take down every book that has ever been banned anywhere or started out life as self-published so they can remain pure.

  • Travis Luedke

    So, the failure of a retailer to identify an ebook as adult material rather than children’s material is somehow a failure on the part of the the author-publisher?

    When a website identifies dinoporn as being the same as dinosaur books for children, that is a major fail on the part of that website.

    Perhaps adult publishers of adult content really did “game” the system, and they side-stepped the metadata that would normally identify their book as being adult, in a separate category from YA or childrens novels, but really, are these online booksellers so badly asleep at the wheel that they allow that kind of thing to go on unchecked?

    Michael Kozlowski, you sir are doing a great disservice by helping to propagate ridiculous misinformation and an even more ridiculous kneejerk reaction.

    The whole thing started with clickbait tabloid reports, grossly inaccurate, reactionary editorial crap.

    And yet you can feed this to your thousands of readers as if its the gospel truth?

    This is a huge huge fail on the part of booksellers. Sure, their unpoliced, unmanned system allowed books through with questionable content, maybe 1% of what was in their sites was improperly tagged and categorized. Maybe 1%

    So, for a problem of 1% proportion, we should remove all self-published erotic/romantic fiction?

    Try reporting the truth. Like this: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/kobo-cull-self-published-titles-in-knee-jerk-response-to-tabloid-clickbait/

    And here’s my own take on the implications and underlying truth: thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com/2013/10/self-published-erotica-removed-but-50.html