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Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

WHSmith shuts down website and Waterstones launches investigation over self-published 'fantasy' books depicting violent sexual crime

WHSmith has shut down its website after a report from an online magazine revealed it was one of a number of online retailers stocking ‘fantasy’ books about rape, incest and bestiality.

Apology: WHSmith has shut down its website

The website is currently displaying a statement when users try to gain access apologising for any offence caused.

The retailer said that despite having processes in place to screen out such content, the “massive amount” of self-published titles in the market meant that a number had found their way through the safeguards but did not explain why that had happened.

The statement added that WHSmith would not stock any self-published books until the retailer was “completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again”.

Waterstones has announced it is investigating how any similar titles can be removed from its website.

The latest moves came shortly after Amazon began removing “specific” titles listed in the report from online magazine The Kernel.

In an investigation, The Kernel uncovered a range of self-published titles being stocked by major retailers that depicted violent sexual crime.

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