'Million Little Pieces' refund claimed by only 1,700 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Million Little Pieces' refund claimed by only 1,700

NEW YORK (AP) -- Millions of readers who bought James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" were sold something less than the truth.

James Frey's 'A Million Little Pieces" became a huge seller after it was chosen for Oprah's Book Club.

After the best-selling "memoir" was found to be laced with fabrications, buyers around the country sued, saying they had been misled.

But in the end, only about 1,700 people asked to be reimbursed, a lawyer said Friday as a judge approved a final settlement with disgruntled readers.

Attorney Larry D. Drury had urged U.S. District Judge Richard J. Holwell to approve the deal, which offered a refund to anyone who bought the book before Frey's falsehoods were acknowledged.

The Manhattan jurist said he would bestow final approval on the settlement because it was "most fair, adequate and reasonable." Although the book was a huge hit that exploded in sales after Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club, only 1,729 readers came forward to benefit from the settlement, Drury said.

In January 2006, the Web site The Smoking Gun revealed that Frey's memoir of addiction and recovery contained numerous fabrications. Frey and his publisher then acknowledged that he had made up parts of the book.

Drury noted that 93,738 copies of the book were sold in the seven months after the controversy erupted.

"Amazingly, the book remained a best seller for another 26 weeks," the Chicago-based lawyer told Holwell. Drury said Frey had received more than $4.4 million in royalties.

The various lawsuits filed by readers were consolidated before Holwell, and a settlement was reached. It called for refunds for readers who felt duped by the book, which earned its author more than $4 million.

Although Random House set aside $2.35 million in a fund to cover costs related to the lawsuits, advertisements in 962 newspapers and elsewhere drew only the 1,729 claims for reimbursement by the deadline, costing $27,348. Another $783,000 will be paid in legal fees, as will $432,000 in costs associated with publicizing and carrying out the settlement.

As part of the settlement, Random House agreed to include a warning in the book that not all portions of the book may be accurate. In addition, an author's note about the subject was to be included in copies of the book until this December.

The settlement also calls for roughly $180,000 to be divided among three charities: the American Red Cross, the Hazelden addiction treatment center and First Book, a nonprofit that gives children from poor families a chance to read and own their first book.

Drury said the proportion of people who availed themselves of the settlement was lower than in similar cases in the past. While more than 20 percent of a settlement class usually takes advantage of a settlement, only 7.2 percent tried in this instance.

Lawyers for the defendants declined to comment on the settlement, except to note that the sole objector to the deal had withdrawn her objection the day before.

Outside court, Drury said the message of the case was that "corporations need to be held accountable for their conduct."

Evan Smith, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, said: "I also think publishers will think twice before labeling their book a memoir."

Meanwhile, Frey is working on a new novel, "Bright Shiny Morning," slated for release in summer 2008.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly