App Allows Users to Sanitize Books for ‘Cleaner’ Reading
A new app called Clean Reader, created by Idaho couple Jared and Kirsten Maughan, has a store containing over a million titles, all of which can be censored to the user’s liking. “Enjoy great books without the profanity,” the app states. When selecting a book from the app’s store, users are asked how clean they wish the book to appear. Options include “Off,” “Clean,” “Cleaner,” and “Squeaky Clean.”
The Maughans came up with the concept after trying to find appropriate literature for their child, an advanced fourth grade reader. After searching for an app to remove profanity from the text they came up empty, and thus the idea of Clean Reader was born.
Of course there was the pesky issue of violating authors’ copyrights, but Page Foundry, a Chicago-based firm, quickly found a way around that. After altering an original book-reading app, Clean Reader was rebuilt as a profanity-filtering program.
Words or phrases that the app censors include the F-word, the S-word, any variation of names for deity, racial slurs, and anatomical terms considered “too racy” for general consumption.
“We keep finding new spellings and authors using different spaces, so we have to keep putting in different words and arrangements of words, different endings, slang terms and slang ways of using them. So it’s an ever-growing list,” Jared Maughan told Washington Post in the source article.
Offensive language is scrubbed out by the app and replaced by blue dots. Depending on the book and level of cleanliness the user chooses, this act can render the narrative unintelligible. Clicking on a blue dot gives a menu of alternate word choices deemed more appropriate for the masses. A visual overview of the process can be found on YouTube.
The Maughans do acknowledge the app isn’t for all readers, but they also know there is a broad market anyway. “We’ve got friends who tell us, ‘We’ve always wanted to read this book, but we didn’t want to read all those swear words.’ We’re hoping this is a win-win: Authors can sell more books,” Jared states.
So the question becomes, do the authors even want to sell more books at the expense of losing the original impact of the narrative? And is an app like this something the world sorely needs, or something we as writers should be offended by? What does everyone out there in the LitReactorVerse think?
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