W.H. Smith have shut down their website entirely, after some questionable content (they don't say, but probably some crazy niche erotica) got onto their web shop via the kobo self-publishing feed.
Their response: Their site is currently closed, and they have instead a statement (Reproduced below the fold for posterity).
They are removing ALL self-published e-books from their website. ALL of them. Not just the ones they get published via Kobo.
In scale this is like B&N closing their website, W.H. Smith is HUGE in the UK. It must be costing them millions of pounds per day to do this, and the site's been down a couple of days already apparently.
My guess what happened: self-pub erotica authors mis-categorizing their product, in order to get around the fact that stores like W.H. Smith filter the incoming e-book feeds to remove and/or wall off the erotica - there's a lot of speculation this is also behind the currently ongoing 'zon crackdown on adult content. And by doing this, they have pretty much stabbed all self-published authors in the neck. Good going guys.
Statement below (ETA, title was unclear, shelves on the e-book store, not physical, this is only about e-books so far)
A statement from WHSmith:
Last week we were made aware that a number of unacceptable titles were
appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated
feed to ours. This is an industry wide issue impacting retailers that
sell self published eBooks due to the explosion of self publishing,
which in the main is good as it gives new authors the opportunity to get
their content published. However we are disgusted by these particular
titles, find this unacceptable and we in no way whatsoever condone
It is our policy not to feature titles like those highlighted and we
have processes in place to screen them out. We offer over one million
titles through our eBooks partner Kobo, many of which are self-published
titles. Due to the massive amount of self publishing a number of these
titles have got through the screening process.
We are taking immediate steps to have them all removed. While we are
doing this we have decided to take our website off-line to best protect
our customers and the public. 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.
We sincerely apologise for any offence caused.