The Clean Reader App Uproar

Censored stampUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or editing your manuscript, or are on safari in the depths of the DRC) you’ve probably read about the uproar surrounding the Clean Reader App. I’ve read several posts about it and thought I’d share the two I enjoyed most: Charlie Stross and Chuck Wendig.

Gotta say, Ernest Hemingway’s turning in his grave right now. I remember picking up a used copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls years ago and being puzzled by his word choices (unmentionable was used several times in place of his original text. I freely and somewhat sheepishly admit it took me a couple of pages before I realized I had a censored copy as I’d never run across one before.) The replacement words absolutely destroyed Hemingway’s intent, not to mention totally messed with my reading experience. Talk about jarring…

Thankfully, Mark Coker over at Smashwords has requested all SW books be removed from the app. Personally, I’d love for the Clean Reader App to disappear in a flood of legal challenges. I choose the words I use in my work specifically for rhythm and flow and effect, and if that includes profanity, well, then that’s what I’m going to use. If you don’t like it, then PLEASE don’t buy my books.

UPDATE*** Thanks to authors around the world flooding these folks with take down notices and comments against this insidious app, they’ve removed all books from their online store. A small victory, but a victory for literature nonetheless.

 

About dvberkom

Bestselling author of the Kate Jones and Leine Basso thrillers. View all posts by dvberkom

19 responses to “The Clean Reader App Uproar

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    I am totally against such censoring. If a book does not meet a readers sensibility requirements let them choose not to read it. Don’t read a sanitized version, as it is not longer the book the author wrote. In spite of claims to the contrary, I see this as a violation of copyright. While my books contain very little many would object to, if those few scenes where I overstep their line were changed my work would lose its impact. If I can prevent that I will. Just don’t read my books. Period. Good for mark Coker.

    Liked by 2 people

  • laurieboris

    What you and Yvonne said, DV. In one or two cases, I’ve chosen to tone down a thing or two in my books, but that was MY choice. If some app is stripping words and replacing them with ones that I didn’t intend, it’s no longer my book and my choice. This app ticks me off to no end. Good for Mark Coker.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dvberkom

      No kidding. It’s hard to believe we’re still dealing with this shit seventy plus years later (the Hemingway edition I reference was published in the forties, I believe.)

      Like

  • laurieboris

    Reblogged this on Laurie Boris and commented:
    Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and the wrong one is the difference between lighting and a lightning bug. I choose my words with care and like to think I get them all in the right order, but it’s done for a reason. With intent. I hate the idea of some app that will strip my intent because of a few words some readers might find “objectionable.” I don’t think I”m all that salty, but still. There’s a reason I’m all over the interwebs crowing about Banned Books Week every year. Because words mean things. And a watered-down version does not have the same meaning. Thank you, DV Berkom, for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  • acflory

    Ugh, I have been under a rock lately – this is the first I’ve heard of this disgusting app. Surely it isn’t legal? I can’t see how copyright would be served by having a reader /change/ the parts of a book he or she doesn’t like/approve of.

    We all have choices, and choosing not to read a book is everyone’s inalienable right. Slaughtering the wording of that book is not.

    Thanks DV and Laurie. Will pass this post on.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Charles Ray

    Readers who don’t want to read what i write – profanity and all – are free not to read. I will not censor myself, and I object to robotic censorship.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Clean Reader App – self censorship for babies | Meeka's Mind

    […] as D.V.Berkom points out in her post, this computerized CENSORSHIP changes the meaning, intent, pace, flow and music of the prose. That […]

    Liked by 1 person

  • Lynne Cantwell

    I’m late to the party, but I agree with everybody else’s comments. Even leaving aside the censorship aspects — which are considerable — you have to realize, as a reader, that simply taking the “bad” words out doesn’t solve anything. What if a reader’s tender sensibilities are offended by graphic sex and violence? What about Muslims? What if the app changed “French” to “freedom”? (Remember freedom fries?)

    The whole thing’s ridiculous. Either read my books as I wrote them, or read something else. Or write your own damn book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvberkom

      But Lynne, writing their own damn book is so HARD. Hmmm. There are two words in that sentence that would probably be redacted. I’m with you–the whole thing IS ridiculous.

      Like

  • flashpoetguy

    I personally believe too many writers repeatedly use the f-word and God’s name in prayerless writings the way speakers use the “uh uh” or “you know, you know” to fill their pauses. I’ve been writing fiction for over fifty years and never used profanity. I never felt it necessary to depict a character or strengthen dialogue or attain realism by resorting to bad language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvberkom

      I appreciate your opinion, flashpoetguy, and that’s great for you, but many writers don’t feel the same. There’s plenty of room in this world for all kinds of writing. With my books, it’s pretty obvious I use profanity although some works have more than others. What I object to is someone or something changing an author’s work just because the reader objects to their use of language (I refuse to call any language “bad”). If the use of spicy words offends you, DON’T BUY THE BOOK, or, if the use of whatever you’re offended by is not obvious when you purchased the book, RETURN IT. The problem with this app, as I see it, is how far do you want to take it? Should there be an app that edits out any mention of Islam? Christianity? References to gay love/marriage? Garden gnomes? Personally, I want to read books how the author intended them to be written.

      The alternative is frightening.

      Like

  • flashpoetguy

    Yes, I agree it is a personal choice. For me, writing, which I’ve loved all my life, is not as important to me as being true to myself and doing what I believe is the right thing. Often writers use profanity for shock appeal or for lack of the precise word. Arguing for realism doesn’t cut it with me. I am sure the great classics were read in eras where profanities were spoken, but hardly ever written. Censorship? Perhaps, but I have read some anti-God, anti-ethnicities, and racist writings that serve no purpose beyond the need of the writer to vent.

    Liked by 1 person

  • sherry fundin

    I agree with you D. I don’t want anything censored. Sometimes I read a book just because of all the hype, like Satanic Verses, a long time ago. I didn’t see what all the ruckus was about. I read it twice and didn’t really care for it either time. LOL But I read it because of the death threats. I feel, if you don’t like it, don’t read it, but don’t tell me I can’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dvberkom

      LOL on reading Satanic Verses, Sherry. I’ve done the same thing with other books and come away thinking, meh. And, even though the app creators haven’t gone quite that far–you don’t have to use the app if you don’t want to–like I said, I’m wary of where this will lead. It’s good to know there are so many of us who feel the same.

      Like

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