Steamy Novels Drive E-Book Sales. No Wonder Amazon Can't Fully Censor Them!

Last Updated May 24, 2011 5:48 PM EDT

Amazon may be capriciously banning Kindle erotica, but it will want to be careful before it pisses off its main customers: sexy-book readers. According to a new study, the average e-book "power buyer" is a 44-year-old female purchasing romance/erotica books. Kick out all erotica and Amazon is virtually handing them to Barnes & Noble's nook.

First, let's look at the study. Shown at this week's Book Expo America, the Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey was conducted by the Book Industry Study Group on 3,000 people. PaidContent.org reported some of the findings:
  • One out of every five readers are "power buyers", yet they buy three out of every five (61 percent) of all e-books purchased
  • Two out of every three e-book power buyers are women
  • More than half of e-book sales are fiction
Invaluable stats as e-book sales overtake paperback and hardcover book purchases on Amazon.

Unfortunately, the Kindle manufacturer has been waging war on these same power users. In January, it began banning Kindle titles -- seemingly randomly -- that referred to rape. Nonconsensual sex is an erotic genre in itself, and, regardless of politics and personal issues, it remains a popular one. Just the December before, Amazon kicked out a random set of titles referring to pedophilia.

The problem is that Amazon is trying to transform itself from a relatively open platform to a closed one. As recently as November Amazon defended its controversial Kindle titles, saying, in part:

Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.


Now it is trying to determine what is erotic, which is OK, and what is obscene, which evidently is not. Apple (APPL) has taken this same route and angered both consumers and developers. For Amazon, playing the censorship game is threatening its power buyers.

The ultimate irony is that the average traditional book power buyer is virtually the same as the "new" e-book power buyer. Amazon should examine its own physical book stats before it continues alienating its most significant audience.

Photo courtesy of cdrummbks // CC 2.0
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