Bitter apples?


Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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126 Responses

  1. Avatar zic says:

    The link doesn’t work AaronReport

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

      Link is this one, I expect. I tried to insert it, but AD has it open and may be fixing it himself.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Well, that’s appropriate.

        I’m glad somebody in this world still has some ethics and and sense of honor.Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to zic says:

          To give you your money back if you don’t like it? That’s laughable. It would be one thing if the book were damaged but just b/c you don’t like the book?Report

          • Avatar H. Rhohrer in reply to notme says:

            Surely it’s just a business decision? Keep the customers happy.

            Doesn’t mean you’d have to do it if it was your bookstore, but presumably this man knows his customers better than you and I know them.Report

            • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to H. Rhohrer says:

              It may be a business decision, but to me it reads like shitting on a Harper Lee novel to score some publicity points. It’s legal, and it may be ethically permissible, but it’s still in bad taste.

              After all, if they were concerned about keeping dissapointed customers happy, they just would have offered returns to customers who complained instead of putting out a statement.Report

    • Avatar aarondavid in reply to zic says:

      Thanks for the heads up @zic @will-truman is correct, I immediately dove in to fix it, and it should work now.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:


    Your link did not work so I googled and found an article from the Guardian. I am kind of torn.

    On the one hand, the bookstore seems to be doing this from absolute sincerity and a devotion to literature and good writing.

    On the other hand, he sounds really snobby and I have bought books and been disappointed by them but did not demand a refund.Report

    • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I agree with you on both ends @saul-degraw and I am one of those people who will walk out of a movie, long before I would demand my money back. That said, I was in the business for a long time, and only once did I have someone ask for a return because they didn’t like the books (oddly enough, it was for a LeGuin book.)Report

    • In this case, though, the source of the disappointment isn’t that the writing quality isn’t great, but that the book isn’t what was advertised. So a lot of the people that bought it didn’t know what they were buying.

      (Granted, a part of me kind of wants to sneer “Well sorry it didn’t conform to your black and white view of everything where the bad people are bad and the good people are good”… but their expectations that such would be the case were actually kind of understandable here.)Report

  3. Avatar Will Truman says:

    I’m not sure what your implication here is. I can think of at least a couple.

    As I mentioned on a Sunday! thread, I actually liked the book a great deal. It spoke to me in ways Mockingbird didn’t. And I agree with Ursula Le Guin that it “asks some of the hard questions To Kill a Mockingbird evades.”

    I suspect that I might mean something different by it than she does, though. I intended to write something about it, but haven’t and am not sure I will. The long and short of it is that all of us would really like to think that if we had been raised in the South of that era, we’d be Atticus Finch. When in reality, in somewhere near a best case scenario, we might be the other Atticus Finch.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    A) I respect anyone making a business decision with their own business and their own money.

    B) Good gravy, their qualms are overwrought.

    C) The people selling Ta-Nehesi Coates book at cost are on firmer ethical and business ground.

    Edit oh and D) I never seen so many people act like Randians over a work since Ayn’s eternal dirt nap than I have over Go Set A Watchman.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kolohe says:

      What’s your point about Coates?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I think the claim “this book is too important for crass commercialism” has a stronger hold for Coates’ recent book than it does for this book, and the bookstore that’s selling Coates book without profit to themselves (in New York also iirc) will likely be able to leverage that goodwill better than this store with Lee’s book.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe says:

          The problem is that the crass commercialism came after Lee’s stroke and death of her primary caregiver. A new care-giver, a new mental disability, and a life’s resistance and avoidance of that crass commercialism comes crashing down.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

            That is many people’s objection (Mike Schilling also alludes to it in these comments) but that doesn’t seem to be this particular bookstore’s objection. Rather, the impetus is that bookstore consumers have been harmed by misleading marketing – which is hardly unusual, and a bit overstated for this case.

            Everyone knew this was the ‘lost’ book of Harper Lee that had been originally rejected by editors and publishers. There’s plenty of cases of authors who’s early works before their breakout hit get republished (or finally published) after the author makes the big time. Those works are almost invariably inferior, for good reason. (They’re on a different level in the literary world but Michael Crichton and Anne Rice immediately come to mind)Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Kolohe says:

      In some ways it is not the bookstores money. The general business model in new book retail is to have a contract with the a distributor, such as Ingram With such an account, all unsold books can be returned for credit against sales. This is what leads to books being remaindered at huge discounts. Unlike clothes, books are bought from the publisher/distributor at around 70% of retail (clothes are usually bought for much less.) The stores are will to buy at this price point, as most (not all) can be returned to the distributor as unsold merch. The distributor then warehouses some of it (back stock) and sells the rest at a step discount, having written the product off of taxes. And those remainder sales don’t help the author at all, as it is not a contract sale.Report

  5. It’s not a finished novel. It’s a rough draft Harper Lee never meant to see the light of day, being sold now because she’s too old and sick to prevent it. Anyone who bought it under the impression that it was a new book by the author of To Kill a Mockingbird deserves their money back. I’d say the same about the Silmarillion for anyone expecting a completed book rather than a group of odds and ends inexpertly stitched together. In fact I’ll paraphrase Tolkien, when he asked readers to buy the edition of Lord of the Rings he got royalties for rather than the pirated one:

    To Kill a Mockingbird has been published with the author’s consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other.


    • Do we know for a fact that this version hasn’t been edited/updated since the 1950s? That said, the circumstances surrounding its publication are fishy, to say the least, and Leguin’s claim that the new novel “hasn’t done any harm to the old woman [Lee], and I hope it’s given her pleasure” rings kind of hollow without knowing more about whether the “old woman” consented to the publication. (It’s possible Leguin is quoted out of context here, but that how it reads in the linked-to article.)Report

  6. Avatar nevermoor says:

    I love that our resident conserva-troll is trying to make this a political fight.

    I thought the issue was that the new book is very much a first draft (with significant identical passages) rather than a new book from the same author. That’s materially different from a “new book” by the same author.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to nevermoor says:


      Trolls gotta troll. It is what they do. I think they should be involved in more productive activities like sleeping forever but are you gonna do.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to nevermoor says:

      I agree with Notme on this, considering the wailing and gnashing of teeth I have heard just regarding the poor children named Atticus.

      Pretty sure that if Watchman had worked in the same manner as Mockingbird, that black and white world in which we had grown up to believe that Atticus was absolutely in the right, the reaction would be vary different.

      Your mileage, of course, may vary.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to aaron david says:

        Ok, let’s be honest:

        1. This is a small business making a choice they think is best that harms no one but that business in any way. Not politics/nanny state/any of the other crap conservatives trot out when they don’t get their way. The only reason you think this makes liberals look bad is because you think EVERYTHING makes liberals look bad.

        2. The issue I’ve heard with the book is that it’s Stephen Hero, not that it’s a sequel with undesirable plot twists. If I’m buying “James Joyce’s BRAND NEW BOOK” and it’s instead a first draft of a book I already have, I’m not mollified just because there aren’t any surprises. If you actually RTFA you linked, you’d see that’s their explanation too.

        3. People being disappointed with character differences is what it is. People develop attachments to characters in books they like, and future developments can be jarring. Just like people develop attachments to any number of things that can change over their lifetimes (I bet there are kids named after Bill Crosby, for example, whose parents aren’t thrilled).

        4. Explanation needed on your theory of liberalism that is both (1) to blame for this decision and (2) dismayed to see, as LeGuin says, ” some truths about the Southern society that lies to itself so much.” I thought the line on us was that we simply hate all things Southern. Or is that only the line when it gets you from point A to “Liberals suck” fastest?Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to nevermoor says:

          Regarding #2, it’s not the book people with Mockingbird already have. Different plot, different time frame, different message different tone. Different book.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Will Truman says:

            Not entirely the same. But heavily overlapping (including identical passages).

            Enough so that I can imagine a consumer feeling mislead.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to nevermoor says:

              Not very overlapping, really, other than characters and setting. Mockingbird is basically something that happened that is referred to and talked about in Watchman as an explanation for why Scout is so surprised by her father’s current attitudes.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Will Truman says:

                First off, all you’re saying is you disagree with the book seller about how much overlap is too much. Here, for reference, is a site running down some exact matches.

                Second, the “new book” is receiving criticism as not really a full-blown novel (which is unsurprising because it wasn’t intended for publication) despite being marketed as such.

                So we can argue about whether the bookstore (or those customers complaining) are right about whether this new book is a mislabeled Stephen Hero, but we shouldn’t pretend that they are instead saying they want their money back because the new book is anti-Southern and that offends their tender liberal sensibilities.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to nevermoor says:

                Well yes, I am merely responding to #2. That’s why I started with “Regarding #2” (and lack a “Regarding #1,3-4). I think the “not really a full-blown novel” critique is wrong, but reasonable*. The notion that there is too much overlap between the first and second, though, is extremely off-base as what they mostly have in common are characters and setting.

                I think the list from the article supports that. Most of the same text involve contextual things. A paragraph here and a paragraph there introducing a bit about Maycomb (specifically the founding, the geography, and two interlocking families) as well as one character description.

                I mostly said something because I think it should be very clear that these are two different books.

                I think #3 sort of gets at the heart of it. I think ultimately more of the objections had to do with tonal differences than textual similarities. People thought they were getting something in the spirit of Mockingbird. They didn’t. I’m kind of glad they didn’t, because I liked it for what it was, but mileage varies. (Though, as I said earlier, at least a part of me objects to the objection that it lacked the moral simplicity of Mockingbird, which I do think is actually at the heart of the matter.)

                * – Specifically, it’s on the short side, and it meanders a bit. With Mockingbird, you know exactly where it’s going. With Watchman, you don’t precisely. Which I actually think is perfectly fine because I think it actually took quite a bit of time to set things up for the plot to reveal itself. Mockingbird was more by-the-numbers storytelling.Report

        • Avatar aaron david in reply to nevermoor says:

          1. I never said this wasn’t there option. All I said (to Kolohe above) is that the probably have a contract with a distributor that allows them to do this with out any cost to themselves.
          2.I did read the fishing article, and yes, I saw that was the opinion used to justify #1. Never said it wasn’t. I am of the opinion that that isn’t a good reason to return a book and while others agree with me here (see Likko, Burt) again, see #1.
          3. That is pretty much what I said, so not really seeing the difference.
          4. Umm, is this to me? ‘Cause nowhere did I mention Liberals…Report

          • At the risk of repeating myself, if the book seller is relying on #2 as a justification, he’s relying on a falsehood. These are two very different books with different plots, different time periods, different tones, different messages, and changed principal characters.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to nevermoor says:

      The real issue is that folks wanted the same liberal Atticus from TKAM but didnt get him. They got a more complex character that is representative of a man from that time period. People can claim its really about first drafts, deceptive marketing etc. but lets be honest.Report

  7. Like some above, I have no personal problem with a business making a business decision.

    But like Aaron David, and speaking as a consumer and not from the point of view of a business, I tend to think of book purchases as caveat emptor transactions, and I’ve learned to be skeptical of the blurbs on book covers and promotional statements.

    I may read the book later, once it becomes available at the local library and the scores of holds on it slowly dissolve. So maybe sometime in 2017 or so?Report

  8. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I know everyone is focusing on the book and the return policy, but can I just stop for one moment and reflect on how truly bizarre I find it that the Guardian is writing full news stories about what one small bookstore in fishing Traverse City, Michigan is doing about anything? It’s like reading 900 words in the NYT about how PlayinWithFireInToledo69 really gave the Weepies new video a bad review in their YouTube comments.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Don’t you think small, local stories about things belong in papers of note?

      They’re the color in the tapestry.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Remember those articles about that random lady from Dallas who said on Facebook that women shouldn’t be president? (Yes, there were articles.)Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Fair point, but it’s a combination of two things NYT readers care about. The Harper Lee story and independent book stores.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Tod Kelly: the Guardian is writing full news stories about what one small bookstore in fishing Traverse City, Michigan

      Let’s say that every day for the last 30 years you get up in the morning, get dressed and head off to your favorite cafe to get breakfast. You order breakfast, and it comes. The server when bringing your food, for whatever reason, always punches you in the face and always in exactly the same way. Every day for 30 years, he has punched you in the face, but it is still your favorite cafe, and breakfast is still the most important meal of the day or something.

      And then one day out of the blue, the owner asks you how your meal was today and you say, “actually, the eggs seemed a bit undercooked compared to what I’m used to.”

      That’s what’s going on here.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        That was funny. But, I think, it’s the wrong analogy.

        I think what happened instead is more like this:

        Newspaper: Good morning! Here is what’s going on in the world or your location that’s relevant, interesting, urgent, and important!

        Customer: Wait… where’s all the stuff about the Kardashians and what happened on American Idol last night?

        Newspaper: Oh, we don’t really report on that so much. We really do journalism.

        Customer: Oh. Cause you know, they talk about the Kardashians on cable news all the time. I like that. They’re pretty to look at.

        Newspaper: Got it, and that’s fine, but that’s not really what we do. We do journalism.

        Customer: I would think you’d tell me what I wanted to hear. Cable news does tells me what I want to hear all the time.

        Newspaper: Yeah, well, again: not really what we do.

        Customer: Fine. Well, I guess that if you’re not going to tell me what I want to hear, I’m going to cancel my subscription….

        Newspaper: What I meant to say was, what exactly is it that you want to hear us say? Because that’s what we do, you know: tell you what you exactly want to hear, without any consideration of how important or relevant it is. Here, please take this survey and tell us what we should be telling you!

        Customer: That’s awesome! But, why isn’t it free?Report

  9. Avatar Notme says:

    Mike Schilling.Anyone who bought it under the impression that it was a new book by the author of To Kill a Mockingbird deserves their money back.

    No, those folks need a lesson in expectation management and how not to make assumptions.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    So I just purchased a used copy of the Kracken Edition of Melville’s Pierre with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. It’s been edited from the original published edition stripping away approx. 11% of the originally-published edition with a weird story about Pierre’s frustrations as a writer; stuff he added after the publisher offered a really low royalty rate.

    Somehow, this seems like two sides of the same coin: a book an author presented in finished form, with her first drafts discarded from public eye yet presented to the public as something ‘new’ under slightly abusive and concerning tactics. The second is a book, considered his masterwork by the author, polluted because of abuse, and later restored by people who recognized its genius — I’m not sure how the author might think of this resurrection, he’s no longer here to speak about it.

    With Watchman, I think that Lee still lives troubles; it’s a concern of elder abuse, making the queries of literary development of her original work vs. Mockingbird premature.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to zic says:

      Hmmm, until I know the EXACT circumstances of how and why the publication I am not going to judge or second guess the publication of Watchman. And I will also, at the same time, second guess the re-editing of Pierre. Pierre was published before his death (in fact he wrote many wonderful works after it) so I can only guess that what was published was what he wanted, or at the least what he had agreed to with the editor and publisher. He might have notes stating what he would have liked in an early rendition, or on second thought. We don’t know. It might be like Orson Wells’ Touch of Evil, were he left a whole notebook of how he would have edited the film. But he didn’t have creative control of the film, and did not get to make the calls on how it was put together.

      Watchman I also don’t know about. But to say that it is elder abuse, or any other allegation, well, those are just allegations.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to aaron david says:

        Allegations of wrongdoing are sometimes true; and where there’s financial incentive, there’s powerful motive. Some people made a ton of money off this book.Report

      • They’re allegations, but they seem pretty credible.

        On the other hand, they were known before the release.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

          There has been talk the person now in charge of her affairs has been exploitative for some time, so the publication of this book, regardless of whether it was what she would have wanted to do (and pretty much all signs point to it not being so) was going to be met with suspicion from people who’ve been paying attention no matter what.

          That said, Mockingbird is one of the most overrated books in American literature, so my moral qualms about purchasing the book take a back seat to my complete lack of interest in reading it on purely aesthetic grounds.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

            Depending on the nature of your criticisms of Mockingbird, you – like me – might prefer Watchman to it.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

              Someone else suggested that to me as well, which is I suppose where my moral qualms make themselves heard.

              I may read it eventually, but I’m in no hurry. I’ve got plenty of books to read, and with few exceptions (my favorite living authors, basically), I avoid books in the year they’re published. I’m glad it’s not terrible, though. I was worried that, given the way its publication came about, it might be.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                I don’t think it’s terrible at all. It may not be objectively as good as I think it is, though. To me, it has a special appeal to the frustrated southerner. Not telling you to go read it or anything. Just that if your problem with Mockingbird was the white knight heroism and childlike sense of morality or something along those lines, this book isn’t that.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I purchased this book with the expectation that it would increase my social status above and beyond the purchase price of the book when visitors saw it sitting on my bookshelf next to “The Satanic Verses”, “A Brief History of Time”, “Infinite Jest”, and “Ulysses”.

    I have come to find that it will not do so.

    Please return my money.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Jaybird says:

      Im still waiting to get my money back from the star wars sequels. Maybe the check got lost in themail?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Notme says:

        Refund, nothing. I’m calling for criminal charges!Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          Possibly a very public caning?Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

            My son has been watching them, and though I have tried to ignore them, they are so very, very terrible.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

              My son actually likes them, possibly because he first saw them when he was very young. I don’t think he’s seen any of them in several years. I can’t watch them, period. They are unwatchable.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                Well, my son is six, and starved for any and all Star Wars, and he likes the prequels. I held out as long as I could on letting him watch the prequels – not just because the acting, dialogue and plot are awful, but because I had some qualms about the weird tonal switch, where Lucas went from making sure that droids were the primary victims of all the violence (so the movies’d be kid-friendly, see) to Anakin slaughtering a bunch of children (wow, that escalated quickly and got real dark!)

                The prequels are just a mess IMO. The original trilogy is still fun.Report

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

                My 20yo loves them too, but he saw them in the theaters. I don’t think I will disown him over this, but I might hold it over his head in the will.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

                because I had some qualms about the weird tonal switch, where Lucas went from making sure that droids were the primary victims of all the violence (so the movies’d be kid-friendly, see) to Anakin slaughtering a bunch of children (wow, that escalated quickly and got real dark!)

                The most ‘kid-friendly’ of The (Holy) Original Trilogy has a scene where a teddy bear dies in battle and his comrade teddy bear laments the loss. A scene that could just as easily been in (a teddy bear version of) Platoon.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


                As someone who grew up thinking Star Wars and Star Trek were the same thing, and as someone who only saw the “original” trilogy when it was re-released in the 90s, and as someone who saw paets of the prequels but mostly slept during them, how much is the vitriol directed at the newer ones legit and how much is a weird nostalgia? I mean, most of you watched them for the first time when you were a kid and loved them and still love them but are now barking at kids loving the new ones…

                ETA: I was in high school when I saw the re-releases and thought they were pretty cool but generally struggle with the fantasy genre. I have not watched them since.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

                …[S]omeone who grew up thinking Star Wars and Star Trek were the same thing, and as someone who only saw the “original” trilogy when it was re-released in the 90s… I was in high school when I saw the re-releases and thought they were pretty cool but generally struggle with the fantasy genre.

                Take a seat, son. I mean this kindly, but this argument simply doesn’t concern you.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


                I had a feeling that might be the single most controversial thing I ever said here.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

                Pitchforks! Torches!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’m just glad @glyph didn’t bring back the DownWithKazzy hashtag.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                Luckily, my Twitterphobia means my hashtag threats are empty.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Yes, it’s kind of like if I commented on sports.

                I’m very polite, and rarely enter the sports threads, though I usually read them. My knowledge of baseball history has been growing in a very unusual way; I’m learning the stuff most people don’t know from some someone studying primary sources, and know nothing of he stuff everyone knows.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

                The original trilogy isn’t great film, necessarily (leaving aside the special effects, which were pretty revolutionary for the time), but it’s mostly solid moviemaking. The characters aren’t anything deep, but their stories and motivations are simple and understandable and archetypal and fun, and well-enough acted. Solid popcorn entertainment.

                The prequels, yes, were always going to suffer due to having to compete with nostalgia; but they are also dragged down by plots that nobody cares about (like the intricacies of intergalactic trade agreements), retconning that makes no sense (like “hiding” young Luke from his father on a supposedly-backwater planet that his father grew up on instead of, you know, literally ANY OTHER PLANET, so that Luke could build a droid there that later does not recognize him or the planet), horrible dialogue and no likeable characters that also display seriously, seriously wooden acting (have you ever seen Samuel Jackson be BORING, no matter how bad the film? Now you can!) They are just plain bad movies, with ONLY their special effects to recommend them.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kazzy says:

                There are parts of Episodes IV-VI that are clunky, with poorly written dialogue. But the actors, particularly Ford, overcome those problems. (and the weird thing is, I find Ford excessively wooden in anything where he’s not Solo or Jones, maybe except for Dr Richard Kimball or the President of the United States)

                But the main difference between IV-VI and I-III is that the format of former group was consciously based on old Republic (et al) serials, so each scene was essentially its own mini-movie, and the pacing was darn near perfect. In contrast, the pacing of I-III are a hot mess, lingering when they should be moving on, and jump cutting between too many points of view when they should be lingering.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kolohe says:

                Obviously, you all know more than I do. So I’m not really arguing so much as inquiring…

                Do your kids like the original trilogy? If so, more, less, or about the same as the new trilogy?

                Do you think if you saw the new trilogy as kids, would you have enjoyed it the way kids today do? Or do you think it is simply a different set of films for a different era catering to a very different audience?

                There is a pretty strong feeling that many of the great movies of the 70s and 80s are painfully slow by today’s standards and that attention spans are increasingly shortened due to the frenetic pacing of modern entertainment. I don’t know which is the chicken and which is the egg there though. I just know sometimes I sit down to watch a movie I know is great and I know I really enjoy (e.g., The Godfather) and after 30 minutes I can’t sit still.Report

              • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:


                My 5-10 year old self would probably enjoy the new trilogy as much as my 5-10 year old self enjoyed the old trilogy. So point. But my 20 year old self would probably still look back more fondly on the first trilogy over the second. (I mean Jar Jar? Midichlorians? really?)

                Of course, there’s the nostalgia factor, and I could be 5-10 years old only once, and for me that happened in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And the late 1970s and early 1980s were probably the right time for the first trilogy to come out.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

                There are parts of Episodes IV-VI that are clunky, with poorly written dialogue.

                Likewise, there were parts of the Thirty Years War that were unpleasant.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                how much is the vitriol directed at the newer ones legit and how much is a weird nostalgia?

                About 1000%. The original trilogy has this weird reputation for greatness even though it’s largely made of cheese.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The original trilogy isn’t just a set of films (and while I think we can all agree the third one is not a good movie, we can argue about the first two), it’s a cultural institution. It created or at least popularized many of the tropes we see in not just sci fi/fantasy, but action movies in general, and there are scenes and sayings that are deeply embedded parts of our culture now. That is, in a way, an impossible standard for subsequent films to live up to, so one could argue that the prequels were doomed to fail, but the fact that they failed so badly is not something one needs nostalgia to notice.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

                The original trilogy isn’t just a set of films

                Actually, it’s precisely a set of films. Wildly overrated films, but films nonetheless. That they more or less created the market for action films in interesting to students of film, popular culture, and big business, but it doesn’t make them more than they are: three cheesy flicks.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Culturally, it certainly makes them more than they are qua films. It doesn’t make them better films than they are, but it does mean that their quality as films is not the whole of how people relate to them. Which also means that the quality of the prequels is not the whole of how people relate to them, which makes their badness that much more offending to so many people.

                Put a different way, the original three films, and especially the first one (but also the second, which is a pretty good movie I think), set a standard of lasting cultural impact, independent of their quality, which the prequels were unable to meet. Not just that, but to the extent that they did impact the culture, it’s as the objects of jokes and derision. Jar Jar Binks, for example, becomes a metaphor for poorly conceived comic relief, say.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                And yet, even the terrible prequels haven’t quenched the cultural thirst.

                My son got me a t-shirt with a schematic of the Millenium Falcon on it. I wear it because he likes it and got it for me (and it’s a nice color, and it’s soft), but it’s not something I would have bought for myself or worn otherwise except maybe to do yard work or something (I pretty much wear band T-shirts all the time).

                But everywhere I wear it, people want to talk about Star Wars with me. This happened last night at Home Depot, where a big black employee with dreads wanted to know if I was looking forward to Christmas; I looked confused, and he started going on about Harrison Ford, and Disney, etc. etc. Dude cannot WAIT for The Force Awakens, and Darth Maul died too quickly, and Boba Fett needs his own movie, and….Same thing happened at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. It’s crazy to me, the amount of cultural penetration Star Wars has achieved.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

                their quality as films is not the whole of how people relate to them.

                No kidding. If it were, they’d be as forgotten as any other thirty-year-old mediocrity.

                Jar Jar Binks, for example, becomes a metaphor for poorly conceived comic relief, say.

                Because he’s slightly more annoying than C3PO, who is hardly an example of well-conceived comic relief?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                These are not the droids you’re looking for.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

                I love Jar Jar Binks.

                Just sayin’

                Sometimes, things that are campy are ok. I think most of the discomfort is that it’s that the camp is of the generation that owns the myth and mythology; in the way that my own generation owns the mythology of Tolkien. There’s a lot of campy Middle Earth’s out there, too.

                And I love the Ewoks, who comforted so many little children at night. And the flying motorcycles zipping through the trees like wasps. And Princess Leah kicking ass.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

                What we have here is a failure to communicate. (I’ve never seen that one, but its part of the culture, amitite?)Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Interestingly, that quote gets consistently altered to add the “a”. It’s like the reverse Neil Armstrong.Report

              • Avatar Hoosegow Flask in reply to Chris says:

                Topher Grace (of That 70’s Show) apparently edited all the prequels down to a single 85 minute film, and those who have watched it claim it’s pretty good. I haven’t been motivated enough to actually try and seek it out.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

                AFAIK there is no way to see it; if it ever got out on filesharing services, Grace presumably knows he’d be finished in Hollywood, so he’s only ever screened it privately, by invite-only, once.

                There is the “Phantom Edit”, which someone else did, based on their understanding of a description of Grace’s edit, and it’s about 2 hours and can be seen on YouTube (I have not watched it, but it’s also reputedly an improvement on Lucas’ prequel trilogy, as far as improving pacing and excising needless or nonsensical storylines; though the acting and dialogue are presumably unsalvageable via simple editing).Report

              • This sounds like a classic urban legend to me.

                If I were betting, I’d bet it’s true. But it sounds like an urban legend.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Generally, small book stores have to survive by establishing trust with a small group of loyal customers through recommendation, book events, lovely conversation, what have you. There are just too many ways to bypass places like these to get your hand on the product to have any other business model. So if this store found that it felt it had given its customers a recommendation it could no longer stand by by not standing up in opposition to this publishing tsunami, then I think it (potentially) makes perfect business sense for them to issue a mea culpa to customers who bought the book based on rust in the store’s critical judgement. Seems kind of an obvious move to me.

    But that account also raises the question: is this even news? Generally, or at least frequently, don’t book stores offer returns on books, at least within a certain time of purchase, on unread copies? And not just Barnes & Noble? Is there anything different or new here? And even if there is in the case of this store, still, what’s really new or news. Certainly bookstores do offer returns. This just seems like an instance of basic loyalty-tending.Report

  13. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    So sorry that this piece of art wasn’t to your liking. So sorry that an author who wrote a book you loved wrote another book that you didn’t like nearly as much. So sorry that Watchman wasn’t Mockingbird 2: To Kill Another Mockingbird.

    I went to LACMA a couple of months ago and saw sculptures and paintings that were not, to my subjective taste, aesthetically pleasing. Do I get my admission fee back?

    I went to see Jurassic World and got a weak and hackneyed script, wan acting, and plot holes larger than an a Tyrannosaur. Can I get my ticket money back? And the value of those two hours, too, please. My billing rate is $350 an hour.


    You pays your money, you takes your chances.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Which is why there’s mass outrage over the lawsuit against a bookstore refusing to give refunds… errr… against Pelosi’s effort to ban sales of the new books… errr… an independent bookstore making what it considers to be a smart business move that it has quite likely recovered far more from than the cost of “dozens” of returns.Report

    • Kinda confused about your point here, @burt-likko .

      Money-back return policies exist and are pretty common. Some kind of products tend to have them; others not. You’re kind of focusing on the humor of seeking one when it’s not offered. It’s maybe an interesting topic why which are which. (I think it is.) But “‘I want my money back.’ ‘…Okay.'” is commonplace in modern commerce. And books are one where it’s commonplace.

      So… what? Are you lampooning whoever ever takes advantage of a cash-return policy?

      O/T: man, are you right bout Jurassic World. I was really looking ford to it, so I just kind of said Eh and moved on after seeing it. But looking back… man. Just a zero. I didn’t even think the effects were a notable improvement. They probably were for the trained eye. Not mine, though. The script was terrible.Report

      • My point is that when a work of art doesn’t please the consumer, the typical expectation is not for the consumer to get their money back. Obviously, if a merchant chooses to give a refund, that’s an independent commercial decision and as voluntary a transaction as the decision to tender the purchase price in the first place.

        But I do not believe a refund should be one’s reasonable expectation when the art thus consumed is not to the consumer’s liking, because you can’t know in advance whether the art will be pleasing or not.

        I feel this way about ordering food in a restaurant too. If the food is qualitatively different than was represented and sent back upon discovery that the dish is at variance with the order, that’s one thing. If you say that you just don’t like it but you eat it anyway, that’s something else.

        If you buy Go Set A Watchman and read it and don’t like it, you should not expect to get a refund. You were promised a Harper Lee book and you got a Harper Lee book.Report

        • You were promised a Harper Lee book and you got a Harper Lee rough draft.


          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Hey, if you go to a 5-star restaurant and order dessert, and one of the waitstaff smuggles a half-baked morass of sugar and eggs and cream to your table while the chef was otherwise distracted, you should just eat it.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

              Or a Kwik-E-Mart muffin, still wrapped in plastic, with an expiration date of 1965.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Well, I was trying to hew closer to Burt’s hypo and your comment. The whole debate boils down to “to what degree is this a “Harper Lee novel”, rather than “something Harper Lee had a hand in, but may not have completed to her satisfaction or ever intended to release.”

                To whatever degree it is the latter, the claims of false advertising or refund requests may start to gain legitimacy.Report

              • Avatar switters in reply to Glyph says:

                IT appears to me Mr. Likko is under the impression that the customer demanded, or even asked, for a refund. All I read in the article (and I certainly may have missed something) is that she expressed that she was “saddened” and accepted a refund.

                Im not sure what the big deal is. Customer’s ask for refunds for stupid stuff all the time. Even if its a bad reason, if I stand to lose more by refusing the refund than by granting it, and I want my business to survive, I’ll give a refund.Report

  14. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Did we go through all this with Dr. Seuss? (I for one, was shocked when the Lorax got a consulting gig with International Paper)Report

  15. This is, by the way, the first time I’ve ever seen conservatives outraged that liberals don’t want to believe that all Southerners are racists.Report