In an update to the story that led last week's Book News, Dutton publisher Elaine Koster and v-p Michaela Hamilton have had a change of heart and have renegotiated a deal for Bruce Fergusson's serial-killer thriller, The Piper's Son . Earlier, they had seemingly definitely canceled an original $500,000 world rights offer for this and another novel by the Seattle-based writer after they discovered that his agent, Natasha Kern, had misrepresented that other publishers were involved in an auction. Ballantine and Dutton had made preemptive bids for $300,000 and $350,000, respectively, for the two books, but agent Kern decided to take the deal to auction and, according to publishing insiders, told prospective bidders that a lot of publishers were making high offers. Ballantine publisher Linda Grey, for example, told PW that Kern told her there was a $400,000 offer for one book. As it turned out, however, Dutton was the only participant in the May 19 auction.
When Dutton discovered the deception a few days later, it cancelled its offer, although Koster told PW, "Our enthusiasm for Bruce Fergusson and The Piper's Sons had been unflagging throughout, and we found a way to publish the book. We want to put the unpleasantness behind us." Koster wouldn't disclose the new advance for the book, although it is rumored to be around $100,000 and it is for world rights for The Piper's Sons only. Koster tentatively plans a 1998 publication.
While the matter of The Piper's Sons is now resolved, Grey noted that "maybe I'm naive, but I like to think that your word is your bond and that lying d s not go on in this business. I find it appalling, and a pity, that the worst sin of lying is being caught." Koster told PW that bringing Kern's actions to the attention of the Association of Authors' Representatives was "something we considered," but then dropped. Article I of AAR's Canon of Ethics is reprinted below, followed by comments by Arnold Goodman, chairman of AAR's ethics committee.