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Lyxdeslic
09-28-2012, 03:39 AM
http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/do-books-need-a-rating-system/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=do-books-need-a-rating-system


The harm comes in when so-called advocacy groups use rating systems as a justification to ban and censor books. Schools and public libraries have come under fire for allowing impressionable readers to have access to content that some adults find offensive.For this reason alone, I'm strongly opposed to this idea.

Lyx

Jersey Chick
09-28-2012, 03:43 AM
I don't agree with ratings for anything. I can decide for myself, thankyouverymuch. :)

Lyxdeslic
09-28-2012, 03:49 AM
I don't agree with ratings for anything. I can decide for myself, thankyouverymuch. :)Agreed. And my children.

Lyx

Jersey Chick
09-28-2012, 03:52 AM
Exactly. That's why I don't like Explicit Lyrics stickers, either.

thothguard51
09-28-2012, 03:58 AM
Ratings are over rated...

sunandshadow
09-28-2012, 05:19 AM
Keyword tagging systems are awesome though. It would be great if publishers could adopt the sort of systems fanfic archives have been evolving over the past decade.

JoBird
09-28-2012, 06:18 AM
I'm all for rating quality. One to five stars, that kind of thing. But this is about PG, PG-13, R, etc. I find that somewhat subjective and silly.

Plus, reading is so personal. I can remember, as a young kid, finding and reading a copy of Scruples, by Judith Krantz. It gave me a chance to think about relationships and sexuality in a way that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. I don't know. I guess I think some things are just a rite of passage.

I'm all against banning.

frimble3
09-28-2012, 09:15 AM
Even stars are subjective. And ratings seem to get stupid, fast. Look at moviemakers 'playing' the ratings to get the one that suits their marketing. And television 'viewer advisory' warnings. I've seen 'may contain offensive language' warnings on innocuous cooking-shows, or 'may not be suitable for sensitive viewers' on, oh, just about anything. Decorating, or home-buying shows. (Yeah, I watch a lot of homemaking shows :) )

dangerousbill
09-28-2012, 09:21 AM
http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/do-books-need-a-rating-system/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=do-books-need-a-rating-system



I haven't even read the article, but the notion of uniform rating system to apply to all novels is completely repellent. Along comes the adventurous and different novel, but it doesn't fit the rating system. Too bad. Off to the shredder.

meowzbark
09-28-2012, 09:50 AM
I would enjoy a rating system for books. I'm tired of reading books that I thought would be the equivalent of a PG13 or R movie and instead end up safely in the PG range. I would like to know ahead of time if the book is violent, has crude language, or sex scenes. It would save me quite a bit of disappointment from reading novels that are TOO PG for my taste.

seun
09-28-2012, 01:05 PM
Exactly. That's why I don't like Explicit Lyrics stickers, either.

Agreed. They're pointless. Back in my record shop days, it always made me laugh when we'd get certain releases in stock with the Parental Advisory stickers on them. Firstly, it made me wonder if I was supposed to ask my mum before I could listen to them. Secondly, these labels were more often on a rap CD than any other genre, but if a release didn't have one, it didn't sell. The whole thing was a marketing ploy.

Anyway, for books, this idea blows goats.

Torgo
09-28-2012, 01:20 PM
This again, eh.

Authors are overwhelmingly against it. Retailers, parents, and teachers, however, are generally for it (it helps them make merchandising or buying decisions.)

I'm against it, myself, mostly because I think your whole package - cover, copy etc - ought to do the job. If someone buys your book expecting something very different to what's inside I think that's often a failure on the part of the publisher to communicate effectively.

We do sometimes put a kind of 'explicit content' label on books that are at the older end of the spectrum, I admit, but we don't put a number on it. It's kind of a concession to parents that doesn't upset authors.

Mr Flibble
09-28-2012, 01:25 PM
As a writer, I'm not keen

As a mother of two voracious readers who read WAY above their actual age, I'd find at least the explicit content label quite handy. I really just can't keep up with pre-reading for them both. My son isn't so much of a problem now he's older, but when he was younger, he was bored with MG/YA and asked to read some grown up fantasy.

I'm reallly glad I pre-read one of them that had several graphic rape/torture/murder scenes in (to the point I said EWWWW and couldn't read any further). I didn't really want that to be his first literary experience of sex....

LindaJeanne
09-28-2012, 04:00 PM
One (of many) major problems with ratings systems is that they don't differentiate between the various reasons that a parent might object. You see an "R" rating on a movie, and you don't know whether it's because of cursing, seeing someone nekkid, or graphic violence. "R" by itself tells a parent very little. (As Frimble says, studios just game the system to get the rating that fits their marketing, anyway).

I'm all for giving parents and school librarians more ways to easily determine the content of a book to facilitate decision-making, but I don't see how a ratings system accomplishes that.

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 05:28 PM
I'm with Mr Flibble - as a writer, ratings be damned. As a parent - hmm, wait a minute. We can't always pre-read the books our kids want to read, just as we can't always preview TV shows or movies. I know there have been shows on TV that I turned off because I discovered they just weren't suitable for my son at that age - and then had some explaining to do. Can't really do that with reading. So if I still had younger kids, I'd want some way of knowing what was in the book - but the rating system(s) around now are ridiculous. As mentioned above, "R" can mean any number of possible 'culprits' and I'm only concerned about one specific one.

So yes, I'd like to see some kind of guide for parents, but simplified. "A" - graphic language; "B" - graphic violence; "C" - graphic sex. Period. If I saw those as a parent, I'd know how to proceed.

Shadow_Ferret
09-28-2012, 05:40 PM
I don't see any harm in it. If someone is going to ban a book they don't need a rating system. They'll find any reason to ban it. "It has talking animals! Ban it!" And it gives parents a good indication of what's in it: strong language, mild sex, talking animals, that sort if thing.

As a parent I use the movie rating system as a guide for what is appropriate for my younger son. I see nothing wrong with rating books the same.


Won't affect me. My children don't read anyway.

seun
09-28-2012, 06:41 PM
So yes, I'd like to see some kind of guide for parents, but simplified. "A" - graphic language; "B" - graphic violence; "C" - graphic sex. Period. If I saw those as a parent, I'd know how to proceed.

But who decides what's graphic? One person's 'graphic' is no big deal for another. Plus where do we draw the line at classifying books and someone calling for censorship based on the apparent graphicness of a book?

I think the info for a parent is already there. OK, it's not a straightforward box on the back of the book that says how rude/violent/sweary it is, but with a bit of research, a parent can find out online.

mccardey
09-28-2012, 06:44 PM
(For some reason, my computer won't let me link to the actual story - but regardless...)

Oh, look. When my kids were young, I read the books before they did - so we could talk about them. Once they got older I trusted them to make their own decisions.

Reading the books before they did was how I discovered Terry Pratchett. Worth it for that alone :)

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 06:56 PM
But who decides what's graphic? One person's 'graphic' is no big deal for another. Plus where do we draw the line at classifying books and someone calling for censorship based on the apparent graphicness of a book?

I think the info for a parent is already there. OK, it's not a straightforward box on the back of the book that says how rude/violent/sweary it is, but with a bit of research, a parent can find out online.

I think graphic is pretty well understood to mean it's not just 'alluded to'. As to censorship, that's going to be a problem regardless of any or no rating system. Books have been banned in the past, you know.

I don't have a problem with a simple rating system so the parents know if it's something they need to research before letting their kids read it. If they don't care about graphic violence, then a book with that rating won't matter. If it supposedly has graphic sex and that's a concern, then they can research further to see how graphic it is. But looking at the ratings on movies and TV shows - hell, I wouldn't know what's supposed to be in the thing going by those. That's going way too far with detailed ratings.

Lexxie
09-28-2012, 07:38 PM
I would not want there to be any ratings like that - I'm sure it will be like with video games, music and movies - if it has a sticker on it saying it's bad, that's what the kids will want to read. And how would a book-seller deal with this? Not sell books to kids who aren't accompanied by their parents?
Even with graphic sex/violence/language, I think youngsters can learn something. And it can also help them make better choices for themselves if they go wrong once or twice and read books they don't feel ready for.

Buffysquirrel
09-28-2012, 07:41 PM
Nobody's yet shown me any evidence that reading books causes harm to young people or incites them to commit harm, either to themselves or others. Until we have some actual evidence that any book needs to be withheld from any reader, this is a non-debate.

shadowwalker
09-28-2012, 07:50 PM
Nobody's yet shown me any evidence that reading books causes harm to young people or incites them to commit harm, either to themselves or others. Until we have some actual evidence that any book needs to be withheld from any reader, this is a non-debate.

Oh, I don't think one can say that reading some books has not done harm to kids. Just on a personal level, I can say that there are books I read that I really shouldn't have until I was older, because they negatively influenced how I felt about some things. Kids are not miniature adults, after all. They read things differently, imagine things differently, interpret things differently because they haven't the experiences/education adults have had.

So yes, there are definitely books that need to be kept from children until they are ready for them - and it's up to the parents to determine when the kids are ready. A rating system should only be a guide for the parents.

mccardey
09-28-2012, 07:52 PM
A rating system should only be a guide for the parents.

Better the parents should read the books and decide for themselves, (and their kids) though...

LJD
09-28-2012, 08:24 PM
For those of you with kids, I am curious as to what age you pre-read until, if at all?

It's just that I don't see this as a terribly viable option if your kid is reading a book every 3 days...(that would have been me for several years). Especially if you have more than one such kid.

Plus I would have hated the intrusiveness of it.
I can't imagine coming home with a book from the library and having to wait for Mom or Dad to read it first.
Maybe it's extreme, but I can imagine this would have negatively affected my love of reading.

mccardey
09-28-2012, 08:31 PM
For those of you with kids, I am curious as to what age you pre-read until, if at all?

It's just that I don't see this as a terribly viable option if your kid is reading a book every 3 days...(that would have been me for several years). Especially if you have more than one such kid.

Plus I would have hated the intrusiveness of it.
I can't imagine coming home with a book from the library and having to wait for Mom or Dad to read it first.

For me - I had two kids, both avid readers - I guess I did it till they were reading Pratchett; about age 10 or 11. I don't see how it could be intrusive - it gave us a discussion topic to share over breakfast or dinner. I was a faster reader than either of them - so it really wasn't a burden. By the time they were twelve or so I suppose it would have been a bit odd - but by then they had other people to discuss books with, so it just slipped away.

Obviously I'm not suggesting the parent read every single book before the child does. Just that it's quite a lot of fun and beneficial to read the authors your child finds enjoyable, and be able to discuss them with the kids. And it's probably better than somebody else's rating system.

Williebee
09-28-2012, 08:38 PM
All books should be rated:

R - read me.

D - decide for yourself.

Shadow_Ferret
09-28-2012, 08:40 PM
Nobody's yet shown me any evidence that reading books causes harm to young people or incites them to commit harm, either to themselves or others. Until we have some actual evidence that any book needs to be withheld from any reader, this is a non-debate.
Can't you make that claim about any media? And yet society has accepted age and content ratings on movies for decades. I see no harm in using them no matter what the media. It serves as a guide, nothing more.

Torgo
09-28-2012, 08:47 PM
Nobody's yet shown me any evidence that reading books causes harm to young people or incites them to commit harm, either to themselves or others. Until we have some actual evidence that any book needs to be withheld from any reader, this is a non-debate.

Parents simply don't care about evidence of harm. They have generally made their minds up that they don't want their kids reading about x/y/z and feel aggrieved if they feel misled.

So it's quite important that the book's package gives you some clue that it might contain x/y/z, even if empirically it might be unnecessary. I don't like a numerical age rating - I think it causes more problems than it solves - but people rightly or wrongly do care about this stuff. It's a reliable way of generating a flame war online, anyway. (See also: circumcision; whether 0.99999... recurring = 1)

Shadow_Ferret
09-28-2012, 08:55 PM
I'm not advocating an age system at all. Certainly nothing that might somehow limit access to someone based on age, and then we have to keep the "NC-17" books wrapped in black plastic and kept with the Playboys and Penthouses. Nothing like that at all.

But something that gives guidance, such as "this book uses the word fuck 8,732 times" might be helpful. Or "this book contains animal torture" or "contains descriptions of the sex habits of Republicans." Those sorts of things I'd want my kids to avoid.

Torgo
09-29-2012, 12:05 AM
I'm not advocating an age system at all. Certainly nothing that might somehow limit access to someone based on age, and then we have to keep the "NC-17" books wrapped in black plastic and kept with the Playboys and Penthouses. Nothing like that at all.

But something that gives guidance, such as "this book uses the word fuck 8,732 times" might be helpful. Or "this book contains animal torture" or "contains descriptions of the sex habits of Republicans." Those sorts of things I'd want my kids to avoid.

It appears to be generally accepted on the internet these days, among right-thinking people, that we provide trigger warnings as well; that doesn't seem unacceptable to me, if people who might be triggered by certain references think we ought to.

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 12:42 AM
Well, as a single parent who was working full-time, I definitely didn't have time to read every book my son wanted to read. I did glance through them, read the blurb, and do what I could with books that were questionable for his age. I see no harm in giving parents a heads-up on those books which aren't obviously adult- or small-child oriented. I don't think it's necessary for adults at all; they should be able to make their own decisions.

mccardey
09-29-2012, 12:54 AM
Well, as a single parent who was working full-time, I definitely didn't have time to read every book my son wanted to read. I did glance through them, read the blurb, and do what I could with books that were questionable for his age. I see no harm in giving parents a heads-up on those books which aren't obviously adult- or small-child oriented. I don't think it's necessary for adults at all; they should be able to make their own decisions.

When they were young, my kids read very short books. ;) That made it much easier.

LJD
09-29-2012, 04:37 AM
For me - I had two kids, both avid readers - I guess I did it till they were reading Pratchett; about age 10 or 11. I don't see how it could be intrusive - it gave us a discussion topic to share over breakfast or dinner. I was a faster reader than either of them - so it really wasn't a burden. By the time they were twelve or so I suppose it would have been a bit odd - but by then they had other people to discuss books with, so it just slipped away.

It would have cut down on the escapism fun of reading. But maybe that's just me.

It was like my own private world, and I didn't want my parents there.

fredXgeorge
09-29-2012, 06:02 AM
It would have cut down on the escapism fun of reading. But maybe that's just me.

It was like my own private world, and I didn't want my parents there.
This. If I had to discuss every book I read with my parents, I would have enjoyed reading a lot less, and I would not have read some of the books I wanted to, did, and enjoyed. Reading is my world which I shouldn't have to share with anyone else if I don't want to. But that's just me.

I don't believe any book censorship whatsoever. When I was young I read whatever I wanted, including Flowers in the Attic. I was never interested in really scary stuff - I still can't watch any kind of gore or horror film - but you know what? If I came across a book I didn't like, I just stopped reading.

I remember one time I wanted a book about a vampire. My mum was a little unsure, and warned me that it might be too scary for me, which I suspected too. She bought it for me anyway because she knew that if it frightened me I would put it down. People don't give kids enough credit for knowing when something is too much for them.

mccardey
09-29-2012, 09:59 AM
It would have cut down on the escapism fun of reading. But maybe that's just me.

It was like my own private world, and I didn't want my parents there.

Fair enough. In our house, when my kids were growing up, books were a shared pleasure -- reading them, talking about them, discovering favourite authors and hunting their work down at fetes and bookshops. Books still are a shared pleasure, decades later.

When I was six or eight I'd have loved nothing more than being able to talk to my parents about books that I was reading. I suppose that's why I made sure it was something my kids and I did together. My Dad shared poetry and Shakespeare with us as kids - but neither he nor Mum read kids books and I was a pretty constant reader but with no-one to share the excitement with.

Chasing the Horizon
09-29-2012, 10:00 AM
I've never understood the concept of censoring anything or keeping kids from reading/watching things. My parents always let me read/watch whatever I wanted, and, like FredxGeorge said, if I didn't like the content, I would stop reading/watching it. Though that usually only happened when a character I liked was killed. Then I would get SO mad, lol.

Actually, I still get mad when authors kill my favorite characters . . .

ETA: I was obviously so traumatized by the huge amounts of violence, gore, strong language, and sex I read as a child that I can't even remember any examples, other than stories where a character I liked died.

heyjude
09-29-2012, 03:07 PM
As a writer, I'm not keen

As a mother of two voracious readers who read WAY above their actual age, I'd find at least the explicit content label quite handy. I really just can't keep up with pre-reading for them both. My son isn't so much of a problem now he's older, but when he was younger, he was bored with MG/YA and asked to read some grown up fantasy.

Oh yes, this. My kiddos are voracious readers also, and the girl is way ahead of her age in reading. I wouldn't mind a rating system at all--just to give me a heads-up.


For those of you with kids, I am curious as to what age you pre-read until, if at all?

It's just that I don't see this as a terribly viable option if your kid is reading a book every 3 days...(that would have been me for several years). Especially if you have more than one such kid.

Plus I would have hated the intrusiveness of it.
I can't imagine coming home with a book from the library and having to wait for Mom or Dad to read it first.
Maybe it's extreme, but I can imagine this would have negatively affected my love of reading.

Yep. I don't pre-read, partly because I'm a lousy mother. :D Kidding, but seriously, my kiddos will each read a book every day or two when they have the time. I just don't have time to keep up with that.

I wouldn't advocate banning books wholesale for certain ages by any stretch. I wouldn't even necessarily stop my kid from reading if it were an "R" book--but I'd sure make the time to do my research on the book and be prepared to discuss whatever issues there were.

shadowwalker
09-29-2012, 05:12 PM
I wouldn't advocate banning books wholesale for certain ages by any stretch. I wouldn't even necessarily stop my kid from reading if it were an "R" book--but I'd sure make the time to do my research on the book and be prepared to discuss whatever issues there were.

This is it, in a nutshell. I think parents have a right and a responsibility to know what their kids are reading, so they can head off problems or at least be prepared to deal with questions. But it has to be an individual family thing, not wholesale banning by people who don't even know the kids and what they (as individuals) can handle.

Jersey Chick
09-29-2012, 05:30 PM
For those of you with kids, I am curious as to what age you pre-read until, if at all?

I don't pre-read. Never have. If I'm really concerned, I could just Google the book title or check Amazon, but I'm one of those people who don't see much harm in letting my daughter read whatever she wants. So far, she hasn't picked up any book I would find objectionable (she's almost 12.)

I don't want or need someone else determining what I should find objectionable for my kids. I'm perfectly capable of deciding that on my own.

Mr Flibble
10-01-2012, 12:43 AM
Nobody's yet shown me any evidence that reading books causes harm to young people or incites them to commit harm, either to themselves or others. Until we have some actual evidence that any book needs to be withheld from any reader, this is a non-debate.


I was seriously warped by finding and reading a Harold Robbins when I was 12.

I was quite glad to find out some time later that having sex didn't have to involve uterus splitting. It kinda haunted my adolesence....

So no harm at all. *twitch*

jimbro
10-01-2012, 01:07 AM
I would enjoy a rating system for books. I'm tired of reading books that I thought would be the equivalent of a PG13 or R movie and instead end up safely in the PG range. I would like to know ahead of time if the book is violent, has crude language, or sex scenes. It would save me quite a bit of disappointment from reading novels that are TOO PG for my taste.

I agree with your sentiments and with the points you make, but not with the conclusion. I made a comment on the original website that IMHO, we would see a repeat of what we see in movies. Since a large number theaters automatically reject anything rated 'R', these movies are harder to find and the studios cheat; everything becomes PG-13 and PG-13 becomes almost meaningless.

Also, take a good look at the Texas schoolbook situation. A panel of a few individuals has effective control over a disproportionate number of the schoolbooks used in the entire US. Look forward to a similar result.

Who do you want assigning the ratings?

Will you trust ME to do it?

Edited to add this recent personal experience:

A good friend gave a copy of my book to her 14-year old christian-school daughter. My friend (the mom) did not pre-read. The girl complained that the book was very inappropriate for girls her age. [There is one graphic make-out scene that the MC puts a stop to before it goes too far. There is no sex in the book, and, if memory serves, only one use of 'shit' and maybe only one use of 'what the fuck.."]. So the kid decided for herself what was proper and what was not.

OTOH, a 12-year old public school girl (daughter of my brother's girlfriend) complained to her mom that the prudish (in her opinion) attitudes of the characters was unrealistic (based on her school experience). She did a book report anyway and got an 'A'.

So, no real surprise: it depends on the reader whether it's appropriate or not.

meowzbark
10-01-2012, 05:25 AM
I agree with your sentiments and with the points you make, but not with the conclusion. I made a comment on the original website that IMHO, we would see a repeat of what we see in movies. Since a large number theaters automatically reject anything rated 'R', these movies are harder to find and the studios cheat; everything becomes PG-13 and PG-13 becomes almost meaningless.

Also, take a good look at the Texas schoolbook situation. A panel of a few individuals has effective control over a disproportionate number of the schoolbooks used in the entire US. Look forward to a similar result.

Who do you want assigning the ratings?

Will you trust ME to do it?

Edited to add this recent personal experience:

A good friend gave a copy of my book to her 14-year old christian-school daughter. My friend (the mom) did not pre-read. The girl complained that the book was very inappropriate for girls her age. [There is a graphic make-out scene that the MC puts a stop to before it goes to far. There is no sex in the book, and, if memory serves, only one use of 'shit' and maybe only one use of 'what the fuck.."]. So the kid decided for herself what was proper and what was not.

OTOH, a 12-year old public school girl (daughter of my brother's girlfriend) complained to her mom that the prudish (in her opinion) attitudes of the characters was unrealistic (based on her school experience). She did a book report anyway and got an 'A'.

So, no real surprise: it depends on the reader whether it's appropriate or not.

My next door neighbors wouldn't let their kids watch PG13 movies - when they were teenagers. They homeschooled their kids and sheltered them in every way possible.

While I watched my first rated R film in theaters at 11.

Even if books had ratings like movies, not every parent is automatically going to banned their kids from reading books with adult ratings. Just like parents still buy their kids violent video games and CDs with cuss words. But for those parents that do care, it would be good to know if the book their kid is reading has excessive gore or explicit sex scenes.

shadowwalker
10-01-2012, 06:16 AM
I don't see anyone here saying that I, for example, will decide what's appropriate for someone else's kid to read. What I'm seeing is people wanting some sort of guide to see if they need to investigate the reading material more closely before deciding if their kids should read it. The choice to investigate or not is still up to the parent, who should know their children better than anyone.

Jamesaritchie
10-01-2012, 07:50 PM
http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/do-books-need-a-rating-system/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=do-books-need-a-rating-system

For this reason alone, I'm strongly opposed to this idea.

Lyx

I've yet to see a book that was banned, or a book that was censored beyond common sense.

Readers, including parents, have every right to say no to any book, and for any reason. Just because you want to be free to write does not mean anyone else has to read what you write, has to agree with it, or has to let it into a bookstore, a public library, or a school library.

This is NOT banning a book, it's exercising the same freedom of speech that the writer uses. There hasn't been a banned book in this country for a lot of decades. You can write anything you like, you can publish anything you like, and anyone who wishes can buy your book from a number of sources.

What you can't do is say anyone how to read your book, anyone has to stock your book, anyone has to place your book in their library, be it public, private, or school.

The same is true for "censored" books. You can put anything in your book you like. Anything. But no one has to read it, no one has to allow it in a place they control, or in a place where their children may read it against parental wishes.

I suspect a rating system is pointless, but if you think for a second that books aren't rated now you haven't been on the end of writing that stocks bookstores, libraries, etc.

Every school library out there routinely says no to hundreds of books each and every year, and rightfully so. This only makes news when that book is a bestseller, but it happens each and every time a decision has to be made about which books to place in the library, and which ones to leave out.

Freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, works both ways, or it doesn't work at all.

benbradley
10-01-2012, 10:15 PM
Exactly. That's why I don't like Explicit Lyrics stickers, either.
That's the thing here - I recall a story from 10+ years ago, perhaps told by a parent, that some tween wanted some music CD, but wanted to but it at WalMart "because they put the 'Explicit Lyrics' warning labels on it." I remember that Senate committee, the idea was started by the wives of senators appalled at the lyrics of some CD's. Frank Zappa famously testified against it, but they passed it anyway. Perhaps it was HIS testimony regarding "freedom" that scared them into protecting their children.

One can only wonder how "Dynamo Hum" falls in the CD ratings. Zappa was famous for discussing "explicit topics" without using any of the FCC's Seven Words that George Carlin made famous in a skit.

Yeah, this book rating could indeed change the way books are marketed. Writers will study the guidelines, and which books got what rating, to make sure their book gets the rating their target market wants books to have. It'll be gaming the system, just as someone said about movies.

Buffysquirrel
10-01-2012, 10:42 PM
Can't you make that claim about any media? And yet society has accepted age and content ratings on movies for decades. I see no harm in using them no matter what the media. It serves as a guide, nothing more.

I would make that claim about any media. I think ratings on movies and computer games are ludicrous. I would advocate not rating media at all, but putting the onus of establishing whether or not they want their children to experience them onto the parents, where it belongs.


Parents simply don't care about evidence of harm. They have generally made their minds up that they don't want their kids reading about x/y/z and feel aggrieved if they feel misled.

And I don't care about whiny parents. I care about the integrity of artistic endeavour.

Torgo
10-01-2012, 10:59 PM
And I don't care about whiny parents. I care about the integrity of artistic endeavour.

I am afraid publishing is a commercial endeavour. I care about the integrity of artistic endeavour, but commerce pays the bills.

Look, I totally agree with you on one level. This was a big, big controversy in the industry a while back when Anne Fine was Children's Laureate. The Publishers Association was pro, the writers broadly anti. Here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7571152.stm) are the debating points.

I'm of the opinion that we got the right result. We don't have age banding on our books. That information, though, is out there in our metadata, and feeds through to retail sites. The bands are pretty broad. Parents or libraries who are buying online and who want that kind of info have it available to them, but you remove the unwanted social effects of having a number printed on the book.

I see clear commercial benefits to the Sales dept in providing that information in the way that we do. We have, though, largely decided against any kind of heavy-handed certification scheme printed on the books themselves.

(The PA's stats are interesting; more than 8 out of 10 parents would welcome more age guidance, and more than 4 out of 10 say they'd buy more books. I think that may be a kind of bogus stat, really, as it's hard to imagine a fair question it's practicable to ask someone in a survey. Kind of imagining "Would you like more age guidance on books to help you make buying decisions?" Er... OK?)

shadowwalker
10-01-2012, 11:12 PM
I don't understand why 'artistic integrity' would be any more endangered by ratings than by looking at the bestseller list(s). Someone decides to revise their book to meet a ratings guideline - is that any different than someone writing a book in a genre simply because that's where the sales are? Isn't that up to the author and their own "integrity"?

As to 'whiny parents' - maybe those are just concerned active parents, versus the ones who don't care one way or the other what their kids do. Why on earth is wanting a heads-up being whiny? Good grief...

Six Alaric
10-02-2012, 01:38 AM
I don't think this is exclusively a parental issue. There are people who, for religious reasons or personal taste or whatever, will put a book down the minute they run into something they consider vulgar or inappropriate. I'd welcome ratings based on content because of this. It must be a waste of time for people to get into a book only to stumble onto something that makes it unreadable for them - and it must suck for authors to receive scathing 1-star reviews because they used words some readers didn't like. A simple system flagging bad language, violence, sexual content etc on the back of the cover could save people a lot of time and effort.

Rating via age (as they do for films and games) seems pointless to me, though. Children and teenagers mature at a varied rate - a certain book might be suitable for one thirteen year old, but not another. And I can't help think that if a book was classified as suitable for a '12A' audience, I'd just assume it was aimed at children and would never read it; even if its intended audience was actually adult.

shadowwalker
10-02-2012, 02:15 AM
Rating via age (as they do for films and games) seems pointless to me, though.

Agreed.

LJD
10-02-2012, 05:41 AM
I don't think this is exclusively a parental issue. There are people who, for religious reasons or personal taste or whatever, will put a book down the minute they run into something they consider vulgar or inappropriate. I'd welcome ratings based on content because of this. It must be a waste of time for people to get into a book only to stumble onto something that makes it unreadable for them - and it must suck for authors to receive scathing 1-star reviews because they used words some readers didn't like. A simple system flagging bad language, violence, sexual content etc on the back of the cover could save people a lot of time and effort.

Yeah, this is a good point. I definitely know those one star reviews of which you speak--for mild language, or one half-page sex scene, for example.

Celia Cyanide
10-02-2012, 05:55 AM
I would make that claim about any media. I think ratings on movies and computer games are ludicrous. I would advocate not rating media at all, but putting the onus of establishing whether or not they want their children to experience them onto the parents, where it belongs.

And yet many parents appreciate ratings systems. Those who don't ignore them. You can too.

KateJJ
10-02-2012, 06:01 AM
I remember sneaking books off my dad's SF shelf when I was 12. Mostly the Heinleins he wasn't letting me read yet, after all I'd loved the juveniles... There were a few things I read that I probably could have gone without. But I was sort of a sheltered kid. I am pretty sure I didn't know what the f-word was until I read it in a book. As a mid teen.

I have a daughter of my own now. She's not old enough for me to worry about her books, I have to read them all to her anyway. And I know hundreds of good books from my own childhood. And I'm a fast reader. But yes, it might be nice to have a way to check just how many and what sort of bad words a book has, how intense the violence or sex is... heck, sometimes I want that on the books I read. I've put down multiple books because I just can't take that much profanity, or another gritty dark fantasy slaughter and rape sequence.

I think there's a wide gap between providing more information for parents, and censoring or banning books.

Celia Cyanide
10-02-2012, 06:03 AM
I would not want there to be any ratings like that - I'm sure it will be like with video games, music and movies - if it has a sticker on it saying it's bad, that's what the kids will want to read. And how would a book-seller deal with this? Not sell books to kids who aren't accompanied by their parents?

They don't necessarily have to deal with it at all. Just because a ratings system exists does not mean it changes who is allowed to buy it.


Even with graphic sex/violence/language, I think youngsters can learn something.

I think it depends on the book. Some books, with or without sex or violence, are just fluff, and don't teach anyone anything.