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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Freyed Around the Edges

Thank you, Oprah Winfrey and Doubleday, for (albeit belatedly) taking responsibility for your actions.

This from today's Publisher's Marketplace:

((QUOTE STARTS HERE))

Oprah Winfrey extracted a reluctant admission from James Frey that his book A MILLION LITTLE PIECES is full of lies, and the essential truth is that he views everyone in the book as "characters." Appearing on the show, publisher Nan Talese presented a disheartening view of any scrutiny the book was given at Doubleday (nor did she mention that she wasn't really the book's editor). Talese was simply "dismayed" by the Smoking Gun report and "sad" about revelations since.

Shortly after the show, Doubleday as a house recanted its earlier position of full support and did issue an apology:

"The controversy over James Frey's A MILLION LITTLE PIECES has caused serious concern at Doubleday and Anchor Books. Recent interpretations of our previous statement notwithstanding, it is not the policy or stance of this company that it doesn't matter whether a book sold as nonfiction is true. A nonfiction book should adhere to the facts as the author knows them."

They add: "We bear a responsibility for what we publish, and apologize to the reading public for any unintentional confusion surrounding the publication of A MILLION LITTLE PIECES."

((END QUOTE))

Very little in the scheme of things. And very late. But at least the most powerful voice in publishing today has taken responsibility for her actions, as has the actual publisher. Huzzah.

Is it wrong of me to hope that the growing number of class-action lawsuits (currently, 3 nationwide) against Frey and Random House will bleed Frey dry so that all his ill-gotten gain from A MILLION LITTLE PIECES will go to his lawyers?

Probably.

Am I cynical for wondering whether Oprah and the folks at Doubleday are doing the right thing for the right reason, or whether they did it because their reputations were on the line?

Definitely.

But hell, for whatever their actual reasons, in this case actions and words are the same, and Oprah and Doubleday are speaking them loudly indeed.

So again...thank you, Oprah and Doubleday.

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