Even though the major debate is mostly over, I’m going to weigh in on the Clean Reader app. Hot topic, there.
So, for those of you who don’t know what it is, let me give a brief explanation. Clean Reader is an app that was created by a Christian couple whose daughter was distressed at the foul language in a book she was reading. You can download this app and use it to read books. It works much like the filters many people use on their television in that it censors out foul language and replaces it with a more G-rated option based in your settings. It even goes so far as to censor the names of certain body parts.
The problem, from what I’ve gathered, is this: the app had a bookstore option. People could buy the books through the app and choose their censor setting. From what I’ve seen, the big deal was that authors felt like Clean Reader was pretty much republishing their altered books without permission. They also felt like it limited their freedom of speech and that if people couldn’t abide the language, go read something else.
Now Clean Reader has retracted the bookstore option after a week of brutal protest and are on their way to an update.
My thoughts, you ask? I straddle the fence on this. Now before you get your panties in a wad, hear me out. As an author myself, I don’t want someone republishing or reworking my stories/poems without permission. Absolutely not. I worked hard on it and I have rights to it. So from that perspective I totally get what all the fuss was about.
On the other hand, I think the idea has potential. As referenced before, many people have devices attached to their TV’s that censor foul language (they’re called TV Guardians, by the way). Where I believe Clean Reader went wrong was in selling the books. What’s so bad about having a censor people can download and use in conjunction with their Kindle or other reading device? Your books may reach more people who were unable to read it before because of the language.
So what’s my final answer? I think Clean Reader is an app that has potential for those who want to use it. Is it for everyone? Nope. Will some people enjoy it? Absolutely. I think where they went wrong is selling the books. As a simple censoring app without the bookstore, I think it has a place for readers who don’t like the language but who want to read your book.
So I’ll say this. The app is out there. It is available. If you want to use it, great. If not, great. Its totally up to you.