I've done it. I was booted from a facebook book lover's group. And when I say "booted" I mean, my posted was deleted, I was kicked out and BLOCKED from even finding and joining the group ever again. It won't come up in my search results. Further, I messaged the group admin (I already had her contact info) and she won't even respond to my question about why I was booted.
What was my heinous crime, you ask?
I posted to this facebook group, saying that when I read a book and come across something I don't like, I cross out those parts with a pen and keep reading, so when I go back to re-read the book, I don't have to read those parts I didn't like. I paid for the book. I'm not giving it to anyone else to read. And I only ever do that to maybe five sentences per every 10th book I read. Anyway, I asked the group if anyone else did this.
I was met with hate and fury, called childish for defacing a book, as if I'd spray-painted the Holy Grail. I was posting a very calm and collected reply to all the ugly comments, when I discovered my post was no longer active, and I - in fact - was no longer in the group. In no way did I violate the group rules (I checked them.)
So this experience propelled me to blog about my thoughts on defacing books. Here’s my stand on it: You bought the book. Write notes in it. Highlight. Dog-ear the pages. Tear pages out. Spill hot chocolate on it. Burn it. Why? Because it’s yours, just like you would do for any other property you own.
BUT J.M., YOU’RE AN AUTHOR. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF A READER CROSSED WORDS/SENTENCES OUT OF THE BOOK YOU WROTE?
I don’t care. Not every book, and not every scene in every book, is going to appeal to every reader. If Reader is enjoying The War Queen, but decided she doesn't like the scene where Altarn catches Kaelin in a towel, and Reader crossed that part out so she wouldn’t ruin her delicate senses if she were to ever re-read the book, that is great. That tells me the reader is making my book HER OWN. That reader is enjoying my book in the way that pleases her the most. That reader can change my character names, descriptions, scenery, whatever, because that reader is reading The War Queen to escape into another world and enjoy her journey. Who am I to demand she stays on the path I laid out for her? Maybe she wants to walk into the trees of Endendre and become blissfully lost. I am not her travel guide. I am only her map-maker.
So, you’ve heard it from J.M. Robison, fantasy author: that I deface books according to my reading pleasure, and I encourage others to deface books according to THEIR pleasure. It’s not immoral, nor illegal. Be free. Consume that book in whatever way tastes the best.
Comment below your thoughts.