Bookstore Offers Refunds For Harper Lee's 'Go Set A Watchman'

Bookstore Offers Refunds For Harper Lee's 'Go Set A Watchman'

Did you buy a copy of Go Set A Watchman and feel bamboozled? If you bought it from Brilliant Books in Traverse City, MI, you can go ahead and return it for a full refund.

After speaking to a disappointed customer, Brilliant Books' owner, Peter Makin, decided to issue refunds for Watchman based on its marketing as a fully-realized novel as opposed to something more academic.

From the bookstore's web site:

It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as ‘Harper Lee’s New Novel’...This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted). We therefore encourage you to view Go Set a Watchman with intellectual curiosity and careful consideration; a rough beginning for a classic, but only that.

The book has gotten reviews all over the map. Some love it, some hate it. Some reviewers agree that it's more of a novel skeleton while others seem totally satisfied. 

Which brings up the big question:

Are these refunds all about fighting against an industry, or are they more about publicity? 

Is this a true good guy in the book industry looking out for customers, or are we seeing a marketing scheme where a store gets some good press, issues a small number of refunds, and then banks on the likelihood that said refunds will be spent in the very same store?

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SarahElizabeth's picture
SarahElizabeth from Pennsylvania is reading All the Light We Cannot See; Monster August 5, 2015 - 10:59pm

Having not read it, I can't speak to book quality. But offering refunds is always good business. It's also looking out for your customer. I don't think it has to be one or the other. Obviously, offering refunds on books is a risky thing: books are subjective and you can't just give money back to people who bought a book that simply "wasn't for them". However, there was a LOT of buildup for this novel (I'm honestly a bit scared to read it; I love TKAM), so I could see readers feeling more cheated than usual if they don't like it or it didn't live up to expectations. And in that case, I think it's excellent business for a store to offer refunds. You build goodwill, your customer goes away happy, you gain a customer for life.