Thursday 26 March 2015

Clean Reader? F**k off!

Clean Reader. Sounds like something you could wipe the screen of your kindle with, doesn't it? Some kind of wet rag to get of the dirt, the greasy fingermarks - the general grubbiness?

Well that's exactly what it is. Except it goes a level deeper and wipes out the actual words. Yes - that's right. Clean Reader changes the words of the ebook you are reading.

Apparently some readers don't like swear words. Or descriptions of sex, or certain body parts. Or even words like bitch. So Clean Reader replaces them with alternatives - what it considers to be a suitable replacement.

God help us all. Allegedly bitch becomes witch (sorry, pagans), damn becomes darn, all references to sexual body parts become bottom (making sex scenes ... erm ... interesting, if anatomically difficult) and so on.

Now this is a free app. It sits over the top of any ebooks downloaded and does not change the content of the actual book. Therefore it doesn't break any copyright and is legal. But that doesn't make it right! What kind of message does this send out to our children? That using the correct words to describe parts of our body is somehow dirty and wrong? That sex is dirty and wrong and should be covered up with nice clean words? Surely kids shouldn't be reading these books anyway, and adults are old enough to either read this book - or if it's not to their taste, then put it down and read another?

Author Joanne Harris sums it all up rather well here. And there are further posts on her blog containing emails sent to the company expressing her concerns - and the replies she received.

My books contain sex. And swearing. And violence. Because I wrote them that way. I chose my words carefully - I'm a writer and that's what I do. Sticking a filter over the top is going to make my writing at best comical, and at worst totally unintelligible. I don't want that. I don't want any app to do that without my permission, whether the actual ebook itself is unchanged or not. It's simple really - if you don't want to read what I write, the way I wrote it, then don't read my books. How hard is that?


Debbie Bennett said...

Interesting comment from Mark Coker of Smashwords on where Clean Reader gets its book directories. And Smashwords titles will no longer be accessible, so that's a step in the right direction, then!

Debbie Bennett said...

Aaand ... victory!

M. A. McRae said...

'Clean reader' It's a truly dreadful idea.
Changing words can make a carefully written novel, perfected as much as the author can manage, into something quite ridiculous.