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At Some Stores, Readers Can Go Get A Refund For 'Watchman'


We offer a lot of reading suggestions here at NPR, and we hope we get it right. But what happens when you buy a book and it's nothing like what you thought it would be?


Take "Go Set A Watchmen," the biggest literary sensation of the year. Fans of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" waited months to get their hands on the novel. Pre-sales set records, but when readers finally got their copy, some felt the novel did not live up to the hype. And for that, bookstore owner Peter Makin says readers deserve a refund.

PETER MAKIN: We aren't offering refunds to folks simply if they don't like the book, but that's not what that is. What we're suggesting is people who had bought the book because they heard the marketing and thought that this was going to be Harper Lee's new novel full of your favorite characters from "To Kill A Mockingbird" - those folks, once reality became better known, felt that they have been misled. And we figured our customers who'd bought it on that basis deserved a refund.

CORNISH: Makin owns Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Mich. He went on to say his customers also deserved - and got - an apology. Harper Lee's recently discovered first novel has upset many a reader. Some consider this to be a first draft of "To Kill A Mockingbird" and one that her own editor rejected at that. Many are simply heartbroken that Atticus Finch turned out to be a racist. But Makin says all of that has nothing to do with the decision to offer readers their money back.

MAKIN: If we've recommended you a book and our recommendation is wrong - you know, if you don't like scary books and I suggest you read Stephen King and you get nightmares, I owe you a refund.

BLOCK: With so much weighing on a recommendation, Makin says it's imperative to get it right. And the way to do that is find out who the reader is, which Makin admits takes some work.

MAKIN: The whole job of a bookseller is to put the right book into the right reader's hand. So our responsibility is to find out as much about what you like and then recommend you a book. A book that might be perfect for you may not be perfect for me.

CORNISH: Brilliant Books still offers "Go Set A Watchman" for sale, and the book remains at the top of the bestseller's list, even if not everyone is a fan. And as for NPR's recommended books - sorry, no refunds. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.