Major booksellers have been accused of lending a veneer of respectability to antisemitic and neo-Nazi books by featuring them for sale on their websites.
The UK’s largest anti-racist group Hope Not Hate published an investigation into the number of far-right and antisemitic works available to buy on the websites of Waterstones, Foyles, WH Smith and Amazon. These included a manual containing bomb-making instructions, extreme antisemitic tracts venerated by Hitler and numerous works by Holocaust deniers. Many listings have since been removed from the retailers’ websites.
Joe Mulhall, senior researcher at Hope Not Hate, said that the books were discovered on sale during research on Nick Kollerstrom, an English author who is known for Holocaust denial.
“The first thing we could find on Google about him was on Waterstones, so we thought we would investigate to see what else we could find on mainstream seller websites and were shocked by how much we could find,” said Mulhall.
He said that while people have the right to write books others disagree with, companies should not profit from “extreme hate content” and making offensive books available to buy gave them “dangerous” legitimacy.
Calling on the retailers to remove the titles from their sites, Hope Not Hate was joined by MPs including Labour’s Ruth Smeeth, who said that extremist, hate-filled books had no place on the booksellers’ websites. “No one is saying we should ban these books, but why do these high street chains want to give these vile authors the veneer of respectability?” said Smeeth.
Authors Jon McGregor and Sunjeev Sahota also called on the booksellers to address the situation. “These booksellers have earned the high esteem in which they’re held by writers and readers alike. That’s what makes it so important they don’t lend their credibility to these horrifyingly extreme books. Instead they can make a choice to remove these books from their websites,” said McGregor, who recently won the Costa novel of the year award for Reservoir 13.