Beth Gutcheon
is a writer who has consistently enjoyed excellent reviews and has hovered on the line between literary and commercial without breaking out to major success. Now Morrow senior editor Meaghan Dowling, who was Gutcheon's editor at HarperCollins (the author's titles are all still in print at HarperPerennial), has moved her to her own new home, via a low-six-figure advance to Wendy Weil, Gutcheon's agent. The book that will mark her Morrow debut is McHard's Cove, a story of two mother-daughter relationships and two tragic love stories that bridge a couple of centuries in a small Maine coastal village. Dowling calls it 'a haunting, passionate novel that is also a ghost story,' and looks forward to 'building Beth as a house author.'

MIT professor Paul Krugman has won accolades as an economist, with what his publisher and editor, W.W. Norton president Drake McFeely, calls 'an unrivaled ability to read the tea leaves of the global economy' -- so when he talks, people listen. Now Krugman is doing a brief book for Norton, being rushed to print as early as May, with the rather dire title The Return of Depression Economics. The rush is so that Krugman can keep up with events; he was three chapters into the book, explaining how depression would spread outward from Asia, when the Brazilian economy collapsed. (Brazil, along with the U.K. and Japan, has already snapped up foreign rights.) The book arose from an article the unagented Krugman wrote for Fortune discussing the Asian crisis, but he has broadened it to include an analysis of the world economy, suggesting there is an alarming resemblance between today's situation and the beginnings of the Great Depression. While acknowledging that Krugman's thesis d s not command universal agreement, McFeely said he gives us 'a warning shot.'

Karen Rinaldi, the new editorial director at Bloomsbury USA, the distinguished British firm's New York outpost, has just signed her first titles. The very first is a world rights deal for a young woman from Portuguese Goa, now living in Australia, 22-year-old Suneeta Peres da Costa. Rinaldi describes her Song from the Brink of Solitude as a 'poignant and exquisitely told' coming-of-age story with flashes of magic realism, about a young girl fighting, with her sisters, against the growing madness of their parents. The author, who has had plays produced in Sydney, has just won a Fulbright scholarship to study here. The debut novel was bought from Tiffany Richards at Janklow &Nesbit, and will be Bloomsbury USA's lead title for this fall, published simultaneously in Australia. Bloomsbury UK, which will bring it out next winter, is handling translation rights. Rinaldi has also bought a novel by Matthew Jones (formerly published by FSG), a psychological thriller titled Deep Water, and a satirical noir novel, In Praise of Lies, by Brazilian writer Patricia Melo. A flying start for Rinaldi, who operates out of offices at Bloomsbury's U.S. distributor, St. Martin's Press.

One thing the amazing Amazon.com book database d sn't list yet is a serious book about itself. That omission is about to be remedied, however, by HarperBusiness, whose Dave Conti has just signed a book by Seattle-based business writer Robert Spector, which will probably be called The Amazon Way; Conti hopes to publish as early as next January. Spector, who wrote the bestselling The Nordstrom Way for Wiley a few years ago, has, said Conti, 'wonderful connections' to tell the online retailer's story. Although Amazon officials are keeping at arm's length from the author, Spector has excellent sources among some of those who were in at the start of Amazon. The author said he will concentrate particularly on Amazon's early days, describing what it took to get it launched and how it grew, and will also hazard some guesses as to its future. He will also talk to people in the book business about the difference the online bookseller has made to their industry. 'It's largely a customer-service story, which is something that especially interests me,' Spector told PW. Seattle's Elizabeth Wales was the agent.

The name Don Foster may not be immediately familiar, but he has had his share of the limelight, as the man who discovered a previously unknown Shakespeare p m and who also fingered J Klein as the author of Primary Colors long before Klein 'fessed up. Foster's specialty is forensic linguistics, which means he can identify people by their writing style, and he has been an active witness for the prosecution in a number of notable trials. Now he has written his first book, tentatively titled Exposures: A Professor's Whodunit, and John Sterling, Holt's actively acquiring new president, has snapped it up, winning an auction conducted by agent Chris Calhoun at Sterling Lord, for what is understood to be a substantial sum.THE NEXT BEN &JERRY?
Congenial and photogenic young men who start small and achieve a big business success are the inspirational stuff that can-do titles are made of, and Tom Scott and Tom First, who parlayed Nantucket Nectars from a floating lemonade stand in that trendy island's harbor to a $50-million-a-year empire, exemplify it to a fare-thee-well. Their story, We're Juice Guys: The Adventure of Nantucket Nectars, written with Neil Shister, has been sold to Jonathon Karp at Random. The agent was Cherie Burns at the Zachary Shuster agency.