The News Story that Refuses to Die
Angry Frey readers can get money back
Friday, September 8, 2006
By HILLEL ITALIE
NEW YORK -- It's payback time for disgraced memoirist James Frey and his publisher, Random House Inc.
Under a tentative legal settlement, readers who said they were defrauded by Frey's best seller, "A Million Little Pieces," can claim refunds, an agreement called unprecedented -- and understandable -- by a leading publishing attorney.
"I can confirm that we have an agreement in principle," David Drake, a spokesman for the Random House imprint Doubleday, said Thursday. "However, it requires court approval and may take several weeks and even months."
Allan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs for the Association of American Publishers, noted that memoirs often cause allegations of defamation or invasion of privacy, but said he knew of no other case involving consumer fraud. He doubted whether the plaintiffs would have prevailed, but called the settlement sensible.
Readers who bought "A Million Little Pieces" on or before Jan. 26, the day Frey and his publisher acknowledged that he had made up parts of the book, would be eligible for a refund of the full suggested retail price, regardless of discounts or special sales.
Details about the settlement came from a person familiar with the deal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because court approval was still pending. Under terms of the agreement, neither Frey nor the publisher has admitted any wrongdoing.
t Frey's memoir of addiction and recovery contained numerous fabrications. Oprah Winfrey, who had chosen it for her book club, initially defended Frey, but soon changed her mind and berated him in person on her TV show. Even so, the book remained on best seller lists for months.
Frey also acknowledged extensive falsifications in a second memoir, "My Friend Leonard."