The Internet is for Porn (And So are Ebooks)


by - September 30th, 2010


We all know it’s there, and there are a lot of us out there who use it – so why does the civilised internet like to pretend it doesn’t exist? That’s the question James Ledbetter asked in a column in Slate this week, when talking about erotica appearing on the Kindle store. Snip:

As I write this, the most downloaded item for Amazon’s Kindle is a novel by Jenna Bayley-Burke called Compromising Positions. Here is part of the plot description: “David Strong knows how to do a lot of things—run an international fitness company, finesse stock portfolios and stay out of emotional entanglements. That is, until he gets tangled up with Sophie Delfino and her Sensational Sex workout. He’s supposed to help her demonstrate Kama Sutra positions for her couples-yoga class. … And his co-instructor unexpectedly tests his control to the limit.”

As Ledbetter goes on to point out, one of the many reasons Compromising Positions (go on, look it up, I’ll wait) appears on the top list for fiction is that the publisher is giving it away free to promote the author or the series. This is one of the many ways in which producers of adult entertainment (and by adult, I mean porn) push the envelope of what is possible and experiment with new technology. And by that I mean with sales, distribution, content and marketing, not teledildonics.

Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it.

What annoys me about the article in Slate, however, is the presumption that given enough time and attention from the wrong sorts of people, Amazon may be forced to censor their listings.

Is it valuable to the company to goose interest in the Kindle with erotica giveaways, or will the presence of e-books like Compromising Positions at the top of Amazon’s charts sully the e-reader’s reputation?

My question for you today is simple: is this something we need to worry about? Is this another example of the way American prudishness is ruining the internet? Or should we be thinking of the children? Is erotica something we ought to be scared of, or something we should be happy about because at least people are reading it, instead of having it injected into their eye sockets? You decide – sound off in the comments and let me know what you think.


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Joel Naoum (113 Posts)

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5 Responses to “The Internet is for Porn (And So are Ebooks)”

  1. kypt Says:

    I had this impression that most media is subject to some form of point-of-purchase regulation/censorship, e.g. age restrictions on movies or buying porn mags. But I hadn’t considered books before – is there actually a classification for pornography? Or is erotica equated with porn? I imagine few kids are going to think to buy a collection of Anais Nin, etc., but isn’t that sort of lit available to anyone? Why should ebook form be different?

  2. Joel Blacklock Says:

    I don’t think there is a classification system that’s actually used. I know Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho is restricted to over 18s in New South Wales, but I don’t think most erotica is restricted in the same way.

    I don’t think the ebooks will be restricted in sales, however. I do think they may end up getting censored from the top lists and from easy browsing because of the delicate sensibilities of the American (and to a lesser extent Australian) consumer and the “think of the children” mentality.

  3. Luke McElroy Says:

    I think the concern is that it’s a bit ‘cheap’ to be promoting the Kindle with erotica giveaways, like if 3D TVs were promoted as a new technology for sexual titillation in the loungeroom.

  4. Joel Blacklock Says:

    It isn’t Amazon who are promoting the Kindle by giving away erotica – it’s the publishers of erotica who are promoting their own authors and series by giving away books on the Kindle platform. This has the desired effect of pushing those books into a Top 10 spot, and may lure readers into purchasing erotica at a later date. It’s a great sales technique, but it opens Amazon up to scrutiny. My question is whether it’d be right for Amazon to censor those Top 10 spots of erotica in order not to sully their reputation by being purveyors of porn.

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