There is more to eBook publishing than at first meets the eye.

While you wouldn’t think that there can be much scandal in the publishing and selling of eBooks,  WH Smith, have found out otherwise, and have shut down their entire eBook website operation after a recent scandal was uncovered.

The eBook market, as we know, is ever expanding as more and more people are finding a way to get their content noticed and available. However, unfortunately, some people have been using this method to get noticed in perhaps the wrong way.

Last month, most eBook retailers were rocked to discover that eBooks containing pornography were found to be retailing on their sites thanks to a lack of guidelines and conditions for independent publishers. While Amazon is proud to review all content before it goes live and for sale on their websites, they were still found to have some books featuring unsavoury content on their Kindle books site.

WH Smith’s website takes content from, an eBook retailer which didn’t appear to have rigorous systems to review or verify any content before it was listed for sale on their website. So in order to remove all of the offending content, they decided to shut down the website all together, thereby losing sales and, in the process, the trust of their customers.

In a world where e-reading is becoming the norm and Amazon’s Kindle has overtaken other e-reader brands by storm, this is a massive blow for WH Smith in the race to catch up with the Internet giants. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have been fortunate enough to be able to remove the offending titles from their websites without inconveniencing their customers with any down time, meaning that the scandal and subsequent clean-up of sites has barely affected their loyal customers. Unfortunately for WH Smith, however, the retailer decided to suspend  its website, thereby forcing its online customers to shop elsewhere.

WH Smith have insisted that they do screen their titles but that the books had managed to slip through the process due to the massive amount of self-published titles that are published on their site, a surge which has, perhaps, taken them by surprise.

Aside from the problems that the books have caused online eBook retailers such as WH Smith and Amazon, the indecent books have also sparked warnings from crime committees across the country that such books containing sexual abuse, child abuse and other indecent acts may encourage crimes such as this to be committed.

It can’t go without mentioning however, that while this scandal appears to have affected WH Smith the hardest out of all of the eBook retailers, that they are the only business to have made the unprecedented move of ensuring that no more indecent titles can be purchased before making their website live again, while companies such as Barnes & Noble are working to remove all of the offending titles while the website is still live, risking the possible further sale of these indecent books. So, the question remains to be answered, who has gone about this in the right way? Have WH Smith done the right thing by risking a huge loss of profits by suspending their entire website in order to make sure that no more offensive eBooks can be bought? Let us know what you think.


About mereobooks

Mereo Books is part of Memoirs Publishing - a UK based independent self-publishing company with an unrivalled combination of professional know how and the personal touch. We publish a wide range of genres including memoirs, fiction, fantasy, travel, true crime, romance and self-help. We provide editing, ghost writing, sales, marketing and distribution support as required.

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