Hats as Statement

That's what African-American photographer Michael Cunningham and journalist Craig Marberry set out to explore in Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, which, very unusually for a photo-essay book, was the subject of a recent auction that brought a price of no less than six figures. The winning bid was placed by senior editor Janet Hill at Doubleday, who beat out four other houses to bear off the prize. The book, which she plans to publish in time for the next illustrated gift book season, about a year from now, contains not only remarkable images of the women in their splendor, but is also, said agent Victoria Sanders, a piece of social history, with Marberry's interviews and text filling out a picture of the significance of the hats as expressions and personal statements by the women who wear them. Cunningham's work has been shown at the Smithsonian and Marberry is a TV producer and a widely published journalist.

More Beautiful Minds

A book called A Beautiful Mind, a brilliant, harrowing account of the madness that descended upon John Forbes Nash, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, won a National Book Critics Circle award and glowing reviews last year. Now its author, former New York Times correspondent Sylvia Nasar, has plans for another book, this time a series of studies of noted thinkers whose perceptions have helped shape the history of the world in the 20th century, and our perceptions of it. The untitled work, which will examine such figures as Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes, Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman, has been bought by editor Alice Mayhew at Simon & Schuster for publication in fall 2003. The agent was Kathy Robbins.

Dinosaur Time -- Again

A spectacular new documentary called Walking with Dinosaurs was shown by the BBC to wide acclaim in England last month, and will be repeated here on the Discovery Channel next April. Meanwhile, as you might expect, a series of books will be ready to appear at the time the film airs, and BBC Worldwide Americas, in the person of Helen Bagnall, director of books and audio publishing for BBC Worldwide in New York, has signed a deal for Dorling Kindersley to do them.

Apparently the film has been something of a "breakthrough project" for the BBC, with computer-animated dinosaurs shown throughout. Sean Moore, v-p and publisher of DK adult books, said the film was "a spectacular job," and Walking with Dinosaurs: A Natural History, will be a color-illustrated book by Tim Haines as a tie-in. There will also be three children's books: a photo book, a sticker book and a 3-D poster book. BBC will also offer a home video and a CD of the soundtrack.

Day Trader Chuckles

The recent phenomenon of day trading by online geeks has been taken pretty seriously so far -- too seriously for the irreverently inclined Andy Borwitz, a screenwriter and sometime New Yorker contributor, who recently showed some notes for a humorous view on the subject to his agent, John Boswell. Boswell thought there might be a book in it, and showed it to HarperBusiness's Adrian Zackheim. Not serious enough for him, but when he shared it with Harper executive editor David Hirshey, a deal was born. Hirshey promptly preempted what they are calling, with splendid all-inclusiveness, The Trillionaire's Guide to Day Trading: When Getting Rich Quick Isn't Fast Enough. Speed being of the essence in such things, the hope is to have it out by next spring.

Change of Pace

It's sometimes a good idea for a writer to shift gears, and that's what Denis Hamill has done in a new book due out from Pocket Books next spring. The tough journalist, who usually pens dark thrillers, has turned to a romance set in Ireland in Fork in the Road, and his editor, Mitchell Ivers, tells us that it's just been bought for a movie by director Barry Levinson, with producer Paula Weinstein, for his Baltimore/ Spring Creek Pictures. The deal was made by ICM, where Esther Newberg is Hamill's literary agent.