March 25, 2015 - There's been a lot of debate in the blogosphere in recent days about a new e-reading app called Clean Reader, which can be downloaded from the app stores of iTunes and Google Play. The app's default setting automatically identifies and blocks words it considers profane, and if the reader asks for a substitute word one is provided. But the substitute word is not the author's word. The app is powered by Smashwords partner Page Foundry in the sense it leverages the PageFoundry catalog of books and underlying app technology, but it is not owned by Page Foundry. Last week I was surprised to learn that Smashwords books were included in the app. After a few days of careful consideration, today I requested that all Smashwords titles be removed from Clean Reader. Under the terms of our agreement with all retailers, retailers don't have permission to alter the words of our books. In my judgement, by shielding readers from words, it represents a change to the book that neither Smashwords nor our authors have authorized. Page Foundry responded immediately to my request and agreed to remove our books from the Clean Reader app in the next few hours. Various interesting articles have been written on Clean Reader debate. Check out Charlie Stross here, Cory Doctorow here and Joanne Harris here or Google "Clean Reader" for more. Mark Coker's (Founder of Smashwords) view: Although I'm generally supportive of innovations that make books more accessible to new audiences, and I can see some potentially useful application in terms of shielding children from inappropriate content, I think Clean Reader is a step in the wrong direction. Books are works of art, and the art is manifested by the author's word choice. You can't block, change or censor words without changing the book. I also think such an app is counter to the best interests of book culture. Books should be judged, celebrated and debated in their naked glory as their creators intended. The sanitization of books IMHO leads to greater ignorance and intolerance in the world. Books don't need sanitization when proper categorization and honest book descriptions will do the trick.
Barnaby's View: You won't find a whole lot of profanity in Barnaby's books, but the odd swear word might creep in now and again if it is consistent with the character from whose mouth it issues. If that is the case, then it's there for a purpose and Barnaby would prefer that it's not artificially substitured by an app over which he has no control.
Why not pop over to www.barnaby-wilde.co.uk and take a look at Barnaby's books for yourself?