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No refund on Frey memoir

Random House denies offering money back for  ‘A Million Little Pieces’
/ Source: Reuters

Random House will not be offering a refund on James Frey’s controversial memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

The company released this statement:

Contrary to erroneous published reports, Random House, Inc.  is not offering a special refund on “A Million Little Pieces.” It has long been standard Random House Inc procedure to direct consumers who want a refund on any of the tens of thousands of books we publish back to their retail place of purchase, unless they purchased the book directly from us in which case we refund it. Yesterday we had 15 calls to our customer service line specific to “A Million Little Pieces” and fewer than that today.

Frey’s memoir of alcohol and drug-induced mayhem sold 1.77 million copies last year after being chosen by Oprah Winfrey’s book club in September. But investigative Web site The Smoking Gun Sunday reported the book, published by Random House’s Doubleday division, was full of exaggeration and inaccuracies.

Frey gets defensiveFrey, who will appeared on on “Larry King Live” Wednesday to discuss the controversy for the first time, has called the accusations “the latest attempt to discredit me.”

“I stand by my book, and my life, and I won’t dignify this bulls--t with any sort of further response,” Frey wrote this week on his personal Web site, bigjimindustries.com.

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Publishers Weekly Senior Editor Charlotte Abbott called the Random House refunds unprecedented, and said neither she nor her colleagues “had ever heard of something like this before.”

Doubleday suggested on Tuesday it was unconcerned about the book’s accuracy. “Memoir is a personal history,” the publisher said in a statement. “By definition, it is highly personal.

“He represented to us that his version of events was true to his recollections,” Doubleday said.

Central to Frey’s book, published in 2003, is his assertion that he was charged with assaulting an Ohio police officer with his car, with inciting a riot, with possession of crack cocaine and felony drunk driving — charges that he wrote resulted in a three-month prison term.

The Smoking Gun, owned by Court TV, reported that most of those claims were not borne out by police records or by interviews with police and court officials. The Web site published the police officer’s report of the key 1992 incident which shows Frey was found drunk in his car without a driver’s license but did not, as he wrote, serve time for the incident or behave in the outrageous manner portrayed in his book.

Smoking Gun editor William Bastone told Reuters, “In off-the-record interviews with us, Frey admitted embellishing facts in the book for dramatic impact.”

Frey has since threatened to sue The Smoking Gun.

Movie in fluxThe flap also was having repercussions in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Reporter said that a planned film of Frey’s memoir could now need a rehab of its own. The controversy could keep Hollywood “A”-list talent away from the project so as not to taint their careers, the paper said.

Warner Bros. is developing the project with a production company owned by actor Brad Pitt and “ER” producer John Wells.

Frey’s book was published in hardcover in 2003 and then in trade paperback with the coveted Oprah’s Book Club endorsement in late September. Winfrey has not commented on the controversy surrounding the book.

Frey’s October appearance on Winfrey’s chat show made him an overnight literary sensation and his book sold more copies in 2005 than any other non-fiction book. Only Harry Potter sold more copies. Since the controversy, “A Million Little Pieces” has remained the No. 1 selling book on Amazon.com.

Random House is owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG.