There's been an exponential increase in the umber of people searching for controversial young adult novel 'Into the River' since it was pulled off the shelves last week, Trade Me says.

An interim restriction on the sale and lending of the award-winning book by Ted Dawe was put in place last week by the president of the Film and Literature Board of Review - the first such ban in New Zealand.

The restriction means it is banned from sale until after the review board meets to decide on its classification in October, and in the meantime, it is illegal to even supply the book to a friend.

But since the ban came into effect there had been plenty of interest in the book, Trade Me spokesman Logan Mudge said.

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In the last week there had been more than 3000 searches for 'Into the River' on the website, he said.

"That's a massive increase compared to last month when there were less than 50.

It shows demand and interest is certainly there for the book, particularly after all this publicity.

"It was the ultimate example of the 'Streisand effect', Mr Mudge said, predicting sales of the book would increase once the ban was lifted.

The 'Streisand effect' happened when attempts to suppress information backfired, making the censored material more popular.\

While the ban is in place, Trade Me, like any other retailer, can not facilitate the sale of the book.

About 35 people sat reading books silently in the University of Otago link building this afternoon, protesting the interim banning of Ted Dawe's book 'Into the River'. Source: ODT/YouTube

"We consulted with the Department of Internal Affairs on Monday morning and contacted our sellers to have all copies removed from the site," Mr Mudge said.

If a copy was to turn up while the ban was in place the listing would be removed, he said.

"We monitor the site and our members are pretty eagle-eyed and let us know if anything pops up."

Speaking earlier this week, Dawe said he was "blindsided" by the ban, which was prompted by Christian lobby group Family First after the Censor's Office removed a previous R14 restriction on the book on August 14, making it totally unrestricted.

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"It's extraordinary," Dawe said.

"I've had quite a few emails from people who share that sense of outrage. Do we live in a country where books get banned? I'll get burnt next."

The NZ Booksellers Association has placed a notice on its website warning bookshops that they face fines of up to $3000 for an individual or $10,000 for a business if they supply the book.