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It’s Local. But is It a Good Read?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of novels set in Apalachicola and the environs. I get unsolicited submissions every week, some still in draft form, but most already printed (often  at the authors’ own expense). I couldn’t write my way out of an oyster sack, but I am a picky reader, and I give each book a careful and respectful review. I then tell the writer what I think, tactfully, I hope. Some of the problems I spot are simply mistakes. (Attention authors: Heineken  is not the Franklin County oyster industry’s beer of choice. You can’t look across the Apalachicola River and watch the sun set over the town of Eastpoint. And no local fisherman has ever uttered the words “May I recommend the seafood sampler?”.) Other blemishes – typos, transposed text, dreary cover art, a word that does not mean what the author thinks it means – are all too common in the print-on-demand universe, where editing often seems slipshod or non-existent.

That said, it is part of our mission as an independent local bookstore to encourage and support aspiring authors, and to offer books with local settings (which visitors love). Sometimes, despite a boner or two, someone is putting an old family story on paper, or laying it on the line after years of thinking about an incident or a setting. We try to honor this process.

But, of course, we also have a responsibility to our readers. What we can, and do do, is offer an honest opinion if asked. We’ll tell you if it’s a great story, a fun read, or a dud. We’ll tell you if we haven’t read it. We’ll tell you if it comes highly recommended by another customer (not the author). And finally, we always accept returns for any reason, so if a book just doesn’t work for you, please give us the opportunity to make the situation right. Thanks.