WH Smith has recently been accused of profiting from the sale of books containing rape and pornographic, incestuous or bestial material. These books have largely been sold as e-books on its website, frequently appearing next to children’s books.
These books have just been pulled from the online store as the high street chain were embarrassed in the national papers this morning. In particular, the Daily Mail have condemned it as a “vile trade” and deplored the graphic displays of the books.
Examples of milder titles included “Sexting My Best Friend’s Daughter” and “Doggy Daddy Daughter Rape”, and featured young women in compromising scenes, images more suitable for a porn website than titles sold on a family website.
WH Smith have been quick to allay fears about the sale, stating in a message that appears on the book section of their website,
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.
Essentially, they seem to be blaming their cock-up on a smaller company called Kobo. Kobo is indeed a self publishing platform to which many ‘adult fiction’ writers and photographers contribute.
The books managed to slip through WH Smith’s nets by being from an independent publishing firm. In WH Smith’s corporate statement, they boast that they have a liberal policy, publishing a wide array of books for all ages:
We are passionately committed to operating responsibly and meeting the expectations of our local communities.
Yet it appears that WH Smith have allowed Kobo to place all sorts of books through the system, including these obscene ones. The books were not screened before they were loaded onto the site, and thus were not marked as pornographic; nor were they censored or removed.
Thus, you could have been looking for colouring books for your little cousin, when suddenly,
Trying to explain this to a small cousin isn’t easy. It’s best to say the pick and mix was a welcome distraction.
How could a high street chain where children’s books, stationery, games and more are sold possibly escape scrutiny for so long? How long had it been going on that these books been sold on their bookshelves and their website, that involve themes that we as wider society agree are unacceptable?
Surely WH Smith cannot brand itself as a respectable family brand when it sells such products? Society is not in a position to put these things together.
Children should not be exposed to such images as normal, for the sexting of your daughter’s best friend, raping your daughter and receiving oral sex from a dog (I think that may be too far for readers of The Tab – I shall not sleep for a week…) are not normal, healthy behaviours. Sexual experimentation should be confined to adults, who are silly and old enough to take such risks.
WH Smith, think of the children.
What do you think? Should WH Smith be more responsible or does the fault lie with the parents? Let us know in comments.