Source AP ©

Readers of James Frey's fabricated memoir to get reimbursement

Only about 1,700 people asked financial settlement for buying James Frey's largely fabricated memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," a book that earned the author more than $4 million (2.76 million EUR).

Larry D. Drury, a Chicago lawyer for readers who brought lawsuits across the United States, 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 judge said he would give final approval the settlement because it was "most fair, adequate and reasonable." Although the book was a best seller that exploded in sales after talk show host Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club, only 1,729 readers asked to be a part of the settlement.

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.

After lawsuits were filed by readers around the country, the cases were consolidated before Holwell and a settlement was reached.

Although Random House set aside $2.35 million (1.62 million EUR) 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, amounting to just $27,348 (18,888 EUR).

Another $783,000 (540,783 EUR) will be paid in legal fees along with $432,000 (298,363 EUR) 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 (124,317 EUR) to be divided among three charities: First Book, a nonprofit that gives children from low-income families a chance to read and own their first book; Hazelden addiction treatment center and the American Red Cross.

Drury noted that 93,738 copies of the book were sold in the seven months after the controversy erupted. He said Frey had received more than $4.4 million (3.04 million EUR) in royalties.

Lawyers for the defendants declined to comment on the settlement, except to note that the sole objector to the deal had withdrawn her objection the day before.

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

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