Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Rating System for Books

I have said for years that I wish there was some sort of rating system for books. Movies have them. Video Games have them. Almost all forms of entertainment do - except books.

Have any of you ever picked up a book that sounded really intriguing, and you were so excited to read it, only to have it be so crude you could hardly stand it? Or too violent? Or too sexually explicit? Or maybe the author found the so-called "f-word" to be an adjective, adverb, and noun? I have, and it is SO frustrating and upsetting to me. I always tell my husband, "why don't books have ratings on them so I know what I'm getting when I go to read it? There should be some sort of warning system so that I'm not so shocked when I'm reading a book and all of a sudden WABBAM! The 'f-word' or a sex scene or whatever."

Maybe they don't do it on purpose, so that people will still pick up the books and read them, not knowing what they're getting in to. Maybe they worry that if there were ratings, people would choose not to read books with a higher rating. Just how a G movie will almost ALWAYS outearn a rated R movie. (Or so my college professor told us many years ago) It's just bankable. So maybe the publishers worry that sales will drop on books that have more "inappropriate" content. But I say, if they're worried about it, then have take that stuff out. Or else deal with the consequences of having it.

But I say quit forcing this stuff on unsuspecting readers who think they're getting one thing, but get shocked to find out it's another.

Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. What do you think?

PS This is why I give "ratings" on my reviews, just in case anyone else out there feels the same way.


Aubrey (AKA Stacey) said...

Thanks for your thoughts Sara! I totally agree. I don't think it would completely steer me away from a book that might even have an R rating. For example I love the Dan Brown books, and I don't see with all the murders that it would be a PG-13 type rating....but, I think in the YA world it is very needed.

In Children's lit we have so very little to go by. We have picture books, chapter books, middle grade then YA. Nothing about content, but rather intended age for the stories really.

For example, Harry Potter is considered middle grade...and although I would say the series starts out that way, it certainly doesn't end up that way. But they couldn't market half of them as MG and half as YA, then they would be in different places on shelves, who would know where to find them all?

However if each book were rated or visibly showed the age suggestion (each book DOES have that, it is just not printed on the final copies really) at least, I think it would help parents pick books for their children. Another minor rating scale system for explicit content would be really great too! Because then I could pick better books for me.

It may not bother some people, but it bothers me. And when I pick up a book I want to know above all if it is a book FOR ME. Because everyone likes different things.

Jena said...

Good Points from both of you. I guess we just have to rely on good book reviewers who are not afraid to tell us the content!


C.R. Evers said...

I totally agree. I've heard people say things like "I don't want people telling me what my kids shoud read." (in opposition to ratings)

but I think that's silly. first of all, a rating doesn't tell a person what the kids should read. It simply informs a person what will be found in the text and and a parent and/or reader can be quickly informed.

Great post!

Christy (via verla kay)