I listened to the most recent episode of Write For Your Life and was surprised that the hosts thought the Clean Reader application is a terrible idea. Based on what they explained, I actually think it’s a brilliant idea!
Clean reader is an app for Android and iPhone that censors books. You buy the uncensored version, read it in that app and boom, cleaned up book!
I wouldn’t use it myself(aside from maybe run 50 shades through it for shits and giggles) but I can understand how it may be a godsend for some people! My grandmother has a kindle and reads a lot but based on her reaction to foul language in movies, music, and television I can see her reacting negatively to foul language in books and it potentially turning her off of it. There’s no official age rating system for books like there is for movies and video games(it’s a joke for music) so I could see her wasting a lot of money.
I don’t agree with it changing biological terms like vagina (or even butt) to bottom(an example given in the podcast) but for words like “pussy,” “cunt,” and “dick” to be changed to the appropriate medical names, or even more “tame” substitute words such as “lady bits” or “member” could save a lot of people money! Why? because, in a lot of instances you don’t know what you’re buying until you’re neck deep in a book.
I’m going to tell you an instance where I would have loved this, and it’s one of those stories I don’t think I have told ANYONE about.
When I was about ten years old my mom worked in the old Dollar Store. I read sooooooooooo many books but usually more of the kid friendly genre. I was hype about Egypt too, I think that was around the time “The Mummy” was a big movie. So I’m in the Dollar Tree looking in the book aisle and I see this book with people wearing ancient Egyptian styled clothing performing an autopsy or removing organs for mummification. Looking at the back of the book it was a murder mystery novel! In Egypt! I grabbed the book, ran up to my mom and asked if I could get it. My mom looked at the book, flipped through it a bit, and deemed it fine, and she bought it for me!
Excited, I started reading it once we got home. Well I was first made uncomfortable at the story glossing over a couple having sex as the characters passed them, I don’t remember exactly the context, but as sex becoming more and more prevalent I, as a ten year old, maybe younger, maybe barely older, was super grossed out by the idea of sex and at a point, likely a few chapters in, I got fed up and put it deep into my closet to never finish. It wasn’t until after I got into college, after moving a couple times that I found the book and was like “I remember this trash!” and donated it.
If Ebooks were a big thing when I was that age, I’d have loved to have a program like that as a kid! If I was my mother, I’d love to have a program like that too! I was a voracious reader as a kid, there’s no way in hell she would have had the time to read everything through before letting me read it. I only wish it worked on the grayscale Kindles for parents and people who love to read.
I certainly hope this program is legal, it’s not actually modifying the book for everyone, it’s not a book banning! It’s not global censorship! It’s self censorship, as in censoring stuff to ensure its appropriate for one’s self to enjoy.
As an adult I enjoy music with swear words(Devildriver is the best!) and when I accidentally downloaded an edited version of a Lonely Island song I was mortified. It had blank spots where swearing was! But I had overlooked that the normal version had a red E next to it(I was trying out Beats) and that was the end of that! If I was a parent, I’d prefer my kid to have the clean version of songs, books, and media. So until or unless a detailed age rating system comes into play for books, I think this is a stellar idea!
As a writer, I love this idea. Granted there are still some flaws to work out, but I wouldn’t mind someone censoring my work for their eyes and their eyes only. I’m sure most people wouldn’t even find a need for this program but for the few people it helps, good for them! I wouldn’t use it now that I’m a 22 year old adult but ten year old me would have loved it.
What do you think of the concept of Clean Reader?