W H Smith website relaunches

W H Smith website relaunches

W H Smith’s website has gone live again after nearly four days without trading.

Smith's relaunched its website this afternoon (17th October), although it is currently not selling e-books on the site. The Bookseller understands the WHS website will sell e-books again in due course. In the meantime readers are being advised to access e-books through Kobo’s online store.

Kobo temporarily pulled all self-published titles from its UK platform earlier this week, following the furore over explicit content found on mainstream retailer websites.

The company said the pornographic e-books, some of which featured incest and bestiality, had appeared as a result of “a select group of publishers and authors violating the self-publishing policies of our platform".

Analysts said WHS’ revenues would have been hit by four days without trading. Neil Saunders, m.d. of Conlumino retail analysts, said: “It is a serious thing to close your website down. But I think from a brand perspective, people will think they have done the right thing and they might win brand loyalty for that.”

However Douglas McCabe, analyst at Enders, questioned the necessity of closing the entire WHS website because of a problem limited to e-books.

W H Smith previously told The Bookseller it would only re-open its website only after it was “confident that completely robust screening processes were in place to filter out inappropriate content”. It said it was “disgusted” by the offensive titles and “in no way whatsoever condones them".

Meanwhile, Kobo’s chief executive Michael Serbinis has said self-published titles that have been reviewed and approved are gradually going back online, with the majority of the catalogues minus the offending titles expected to be back up by Saturday (19th October).

In an interview with The Telegraph, Serbinis said Kobo was “ramping up" its part in filtering offensive titles “and that means increased manual review and sampling, new tools and technology that we’re bringing to bear in the content analysis, and increasing the role that we expect our publishers and our partners to play."

A Change.org petition from erotica readers protesting over the recent counter-measures has been signed by over 13,000 people.