Sarah Ban Breathnach, a Warner Books staple for many years with her bestselling Simple Abundance and Something More series, is moving over to Scribner, where they are apparently more receptive to the notion of her publishing her books under her own imprint. The imprint, to be called Simple Abundance Press, will publish not only her own new titles -- three, under terms of the deal -- but also up to four new books a year by other inspirational writers. According to Scribner, she will acquire the books herself and will be assisted in the editing by Scribner's Jake Morrissey. The editor for her own books will be Nan Graham. The actual deal was worked out for S&S by trade chief Carolyn Reidy and Scribner's Susan Moldow, with Breathnach's agent, Chris Tomasino, who was formerly at RLR Associates but is now on her own. No one is talking money, but something in a sturdy seven figures seems likely. According to Breathnach, she had wanted to run her new imprint at her old publisher, but there were differences of opinion as to whether she should publish her own books there or as Warner titles, as the house preferred. She will complete her Warner contract with an illustrated scrapbook called The Illustrated Discovery Journal this fall and a Simple Abundance workbook next summer.

The name of Mike Walker can mean several things. For one, he is the gossip columnist for the National Enquirer (which is much less downmarket than it used to be, and its supermarket tabloid brethren still are). He appears every Friday on Howard Stern's popular radio and TV talk show. He was the collaborator on two bestselling O.J. Simpson books at the height of that craze: Faye Resnick's on Nicole Brown Simpson and one by an O.J. juror. Meanwhile, MGM-TV is launching a new nationally syndicated show, The National Enquirer with Mike Walker, in the fall. Now Walker is turning his talents to fiction: Malicious Intent: A Hollywood Fable will appear in October from small but enterprising Bancroft Press in Baltimore, which specializes in books by journalists. Sold by Walker's agent, Caron K, the book is a gossipy saga about a sexy Jackie Collins-style actress, told with a great deal of inside savvy. It's also to be a Literary Guild selection for October. Bancroft is distributed by National Book Network.

A first novel of a rather more literary quality was snapped up briskly by Dan Menaker at Random House last week for what was understood to be a solid six figures. It's tentatively called While We're Young, and the author is 28-year-old Caitlin Macy, who's somewhat of a publishing pro herself, having worked as an assistant to agent Marilyn Marlow at Curtis Brown. Her book, which was sent out by agent Dan Mendez at Sanford Greenburger, got a very swift response from Menaker, who said he began buttonholing colleagues after reading no more than 50 pages. The result was a preemptive bid for world English rights and plans to publish about a year from now; movie rights have also been optioned, to Scott Rudin, through Endeavor on the Coast. The book is a story of wealthy and privileged young New Yorkers living "a kind of sunset existence" while they try to decide what to do with their lives. "Think of the characters in Whit Stillman's movies," said Menaker, who added that occasionally the arrival of a book like this puts "a bright gleam in our eye."


KALSA: Pondering future stardom.

Dharma Singh Khalsa, despite his exotic Sikh name and look, is an American with a practice in Tucson, Ariz., and a new book called Medical Meditation, which his agent, Richard Pine at Arthur Pine, has just sold to new Pocket Books chief Judith Curr for a mid six figures -- and thereby hangs a tale. Curr, when publishing (with Bantam) in her native Australia, had brought out an earlier Kalsa book, Brain Longevity (done by Warner here), and was convinced he could become the next big star in alternative medicine. She was therefore determined to prevail in the three-day auction for Meditation, just beating out her old home, Ballantine, to do so. Khalsa's new book describes how to use meditation practices for healing purposes.

In the current passion for narrative adventure nonfiction, depth and danger seem to be the watchwords, and a new book just preempted by Warner's Rick Horgan has plenty of both. Called Beyond the Deep, it's described as "a harrowing account of the most daring cave exploration ever," which to date seems to hold the record in terms of depth. The perpetrators of this daring adventure were William Stone, whom Horgan describes as "the Jacques Cousteau of underwater caving," and his girlfriend, Barbara am Ende; the book is written with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Monte Paulsen. Their exploit took place in a colossal cave in Huautla, Mexico, that runs and descends for miles, with shafts as high as skyscrapers and water-filled chambers the size of football stadiums. The feat required both climbing and scuba-diving expertise. The book proposal submitted by agent Neil Bascomb at the Michael Carlisle agency drew seven immediate replies, and Horgan's preempt offer landed in 90 minutes. "The money level was obviously quite aggressive," Horgan commented dryly.


GEORGE: Signing on for more.

Robert Gottlieb at William Morris has sold another two books by Elizabeth George, an American who writes bestselling mysteries set in Britain, to Irwyn Applebaum at Bantam, her longtime publisher... Dell has exercised its $250,000 floor offer to take three books by Donald R. Burgett, who in World War II fought in three epochal battles -- the Normandy invasion, the Arnhem action and the Battle of the Bulge -- and wrote about each in Presidio Press hardcovers. Dell will also get a yet unwritten fourth book.