Clean Reader Application and Censorship

Most of us have heard of Clean Reader, the app that promises to make any novel readable by even the most innocent or religious person.  Well, it's dying (if not dead) because of the backlash from authors claiming it was censorship.
I agree.  It was censorship... on an individual scale.

The person who can request a clean copy (and was adamant about it) may very well pass by an offending book on his/her way to a more "friendly" title.  Would you rather someone alter your book to fit with his/her sensibilities or not purchase it, period?  

 But, I firmly believe, most avid readers will read a book that interests them, regardless of sensitive material.  We need literature that disquiets, enrages, offends, questions.

The world doesn't come with a button to eliminate unpleasantness, or things that may upset or frighten us.  Sometimes, I find myself wishing it did but then, whose version of the world would it be?  Would it be the person who finds disabled people leeches or gay people abominations?  Would it be the person who thinks the f-word is a punishable offense?  Every time we wish the world was different, we wish it to suit OUR needs, wants and ideologies.

Literature helps us navigate the unjust world.  Or escape it.  Or challenge it.  It is up to each person which books are the books for him/her.  The extreme abundance of material in existence ensures there is something for everyone, censorship of individual titles not required. 

Do you abandon novels if they address certain topics?  Do you think Clean Reader was a good or bad idea?  Are there books you won't even attempt to read because of their subject matter?


  1. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    Every reader has certain preferences and book will be bought and read based on these preferences. It could be the writing style, religion, offensive words, subject of the book and so on. These preferences cannot be changed.

    So an author has to decide which type of readers would be reading the book. As you rightly said that we need literature that disquiets, enrages, offends, questions. Such literature will surely attract the attention of all types of readers.

    Best wishes

    1. You're right, people drift to where they're comfortable or to what they like. It doesn't always do people favors, keeping to what they know but if someone's not going to expand his/her mind or interests... you can't force the issue.

  2. Everyone should be free to write what they choose. Equally everyone should be free to buy and read whatever they choose. Definitely don't approve of censorship for adults. Below 18's are a different matter. Even there, I'd just wait and have them read the whole title and make their own choices, rather than sanitise the world, or books.


    1. Certain issues aren't necessarily the problem for younger readers, but how difficult subjects are addressed. A writer can write about, say, racism in a children's book if done correctly. We often wish to shield kids from unkindness or hardship. But books are a place where things can be viewed by children safely, without the initial shock of firsthand experience and with parents and the rest of the book to assist in facing the issue.

  3. I have no problem with the Clean Reader. This reminds me of the controversy a while back where cleaned up versions of films were being offered. Why the big stink? They clean up films for TV and airline viewing so why not give this option to those who want to purchase such versions.

    Let's face it, there is literature as well as a good many people who think it is not only their right to offend others, but it's the way they can be creative. I rarely see creativity in profanity and for me it is rarely needed. If I know a book is profanity laden with themes that do not uplift me as a human being then there is a good chance I will avoid that book.

    Clean Reader to me is no big deal and if it meant more book sales for the author who insists on filling their books with blue language I think they would be stupid to be against such a device.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Which is why I asked: "Would you rather someone alter your book to fit with his/her sensibilities or not purchase it, period?"

      I actually try not to swear in my work and have made myself uncomfortable with the violence in some of my stories (my fiction is dark).
      Excessive anything (besides awesomeness) can get tedious and boring. No amount of cleaning it up can fix boredom.