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Freakonomics of the Publishing Industry

A Million Little P.R. Boosts

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Given all the press James Frey and his book A Million Little Pieces are getting these days, I’d have to agree with that statement. Despite all the criticism Frey is enduring, the book remains in the top 5 on Amazon. I also get a kick out of the fact that the Amazon title still includes “Oprah’s Book Club” in it – I wonder how hard she’s fighting to get that phrase removed!

Earlier today The Wall Street Journal weighed in on the topic with an article titled Publishers Say Fact-Checking Is Too Costly. They make a compelling case and state how the fact-checking burden should really fall on the author’s shoulders. One agent, Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management said “publishers could add a clause to the author’s warranty section in their contracts, stating that to the best of the writer’s knowledge the facts in the book are true.” He then points out that if the author is found to egregiously misrepresent the facts, the author could be sued for breach of contract.

Makes sense…until you bring the lawyers into the equation. I’m sure I’m reading this wrong, but the article goes on to talk about an attorney who is representing a reader who is suing Random House because they “failed to conduct a reasonable investigation or inquiry regarding the truthfulness or accuracy of the material.” This lawyer says “he will seek more than $50 million in damages for the plaintiffs.” Note that “plaintiffs” is plural, so I hope that means he’s representing more than the one reader cited in the article.

My favorite quote in the article: This lawyer says, “Nobody can get away with profiting with a product that you represented as something that it is not.”  Well, nobody can profit…except for the lawyers apparently!  $50 million?!

Comments

Reese Witherfork

Class Action suits had never occurred to me. Oh dear lord.

Interesting blog. I was hopping around and stumbled upon it. Thanks so much!

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