If you've been following ebook news over the past few days then you probably know that Amazon, B&N, and Kobo have been scrambling to respond to the news that they were selling questionable content.
While this story had originally focused on the UK ebook market, the fracas later grew to include the international Kindle and Kobo ebookstores, and I have just learned that Kobo's local ebookstores in Australia and New Zealand have been affected as well.
Dear Author tipped me to the news that Whitcoulls, Kobo's bookseller partner in New Zealand, has temporarily shut down their ebookstore. They haven't gone as far as WH Smith and turned off their website completely, but they did remove the ebook section and replace it with this notice:
Due to recent publicity surrounding eBook publishing through automated feeds provided by our eBook partner, Kobo, Whitcoulls has suspended the sale of eBooks through our website. This suspension will remain in place until we can guarantee that any inappropriate material, that has been available through self published eBooks, has been removed from the Kobo eBook catalogue.
Whitcoulls is joining in the general overreaction to the news last week that Kobo and other ebookstores sell adult content. All of the major ebookstores and Kobo are scrambling to remove the more questionable titles, with Kobo even going so far as to purge their ebookstore of self-published ebooks. Kobo's UK partner WH Smith has also shut down their website as a result.
According to David Gaughran, Kobo removed around half of the self-published titles available in the Kobo UK ebookstore, including titles from a variety of genres other than erotica:
FYI: If you are not in the UK, you can't see the Kobo UK store, and won't know if your books have been removed. My tests show 50% of SP gone
— David Gaughran (@DavidGaughran) October 16, 2013
They also removed those titles from their Australian ebookstore.
I can confirm today that those titles are gone from the ebookstore on BookWorld, one of Kobo's Australian partners. That ebookstore is still operational but it is missing an unknown number of self-published titles, including SF and nonfiction works by David Gaughran. He uploaded his own titles through Kobo Writing Life so they should be available.
Kobo promised yesterday that they would eventually restore most of the titles they purged, but they have not explained why they felt it necessary to remove inoffensive ebooks like David's guides for self-published authors.
I have queried Kobo on this but have not received a response. But I assume that they are awfully busy at the moment coping with the mess they have created, which is understandable.
image by eliduke