Regular readers of this blog know that I am not much of an instigator. If anything, I’m the total opposite—an outstigator?—someone who tries to stop things from blowing up at all costs. Which is why it’s so odd to find myself in the thick of this whole Common Sense/Barnes and Noble/parental rating thing. And now that Publisher’s Weekly has written up an article on it that linked to my original blog entry, it seems like I need to address it again.
First, a recap. This weekend, while looking at my page for Along for the Ride on BN.com (oh, come on, fellow writers, like you don’t do it sometimes!) I noticed that a ratings system by a group named Common Sense media had been added. It featured a list of things people might find offensive in the book–drinking, drugs, etc—and recommended an age that was appropriate for reading it, which in this case was fourteen. Two things initially concerned me. First, that the book was being broken down into offensive bullet points, pretty much, without concern about how those events and choices on Auden’s part contributed to her growth and that of the story. And secondly, that the review stated that Auden lost her virginity to Eli under the sex category, which was news to me, as I did not recall having her make that choice.
Because I am an outstigator, however, I did not want to immediately pass judgement. Which is why I wrote up the blog post and asked you, some of the wisest folks I know–and I’m not just kissing up, really—what YOU thought. Over a hundred comments later, I had an idea. Some of you didn’t like the ratings at all. Some used them to decide what their kids should or shouldn’t read. There was a real mix of responses, and I was glad for them all. Now that I’ve had a chance to soak it all in, as well as read what the people from Common Sense said in the PW article, I have a better understanding of the issue. But I am still not sure that the reviews, as they are written now, belong on the book’s page. If they linked to what the Common Sense people say are in their complete reviews, not just the bullet points—including reviews from readers and a fuller discussion of the book’s issues—I might feel differently. I would at least like to be given that option, at any rate.
I’ve discussed this issue with Meg Cabot, and I know she’s talked to some other authors as well. I’m curious to see what everyone else thinks about their book pages, and whether I’m off in my apprehension. So if you write and are reading this, let me know what you think about how YOUR book is presented and whether you agree with it.
(For more on Common Sense, check out their website here.)
So that’s where I stand right now. I did not mean to stir things up, and I certainly have nothing against Barnes and Noble or Common Sense. But my books, and the girls in them…well, they’re like family. And when someone says something about my family that’s not true, or puts them in a light I feel is unfair, it gets me upset. I don’t think you have to be an instigator to feel that way. At least, I hope not.
Okay, that’s the end of my rant, for now anyway. Later, maybe I’ll discuss how surreal it is to think of all these people who never read this blog clicking that link and landing on my Friday Five from last week, where I discussed spelling, why I hate the new Facebook, the Bachelor, and my dislike of the word “whatnot.” I can only imagine what they were thinking. Oh, well…..