I recently became aware of a Kickstarter campaign to fund an app called Story Surgeon, which could be used to create “filters,” templates for excerpting or altering e-books, after which one could upload the “filter” and anyone else who wanted to could alter their copy of the book the same way. For example, you could take Star Wars and substitute in Harry Potter characters, or even insert your own name and those of your friends (or enemies). Neat, though I would think it would get boring fast. The discussion thus far is focused on that aspect, and whether it invites copyright violations. But that’s not what I’m thinking about.
I’m wondering about the app creator’s intent, which is to allow excerpting “objectionable” language, so that, “I could let my mom or my little brothers read them (without losing their innocence.)” Okay, first, you pick your mom’s books? (And if you think she still has her “innocence,” you two need to talk.)
But second, and more seriously, why do you need this tool? If you buy a book and don’t like the violence, sex, or language, give it to your library and don’t buy any more of that author’s books. If enough people agree, he’ll get the message. Carving up the text to suit your views–that’s just nonsense.
A book is a work of art. (Fine art? Depends on the book.) If you wanted Renaissance wallpaper on your computer, but wanted to use it at work, would you download a Rubens nude and Photoshop the naughty bits? Of course not. The naughty bits are part of the painter’s vision, just as all that sex and violence is part of an author’s vision.
There are plenty of authors out there who won’t offend you; find one of them. Don’t try to impose your artistic vision on my book. Or write your own, and you can use whatever language you want. Maybe you’ll even publish it. How cool would that be?
But don’t be surprised how upset you get when I add a few sex scenes.