Hot Deals

Hot Deals
John F. Baker -- 9/25/00

'Egg Code' Is Big Knopf Buy | Early Movie Sale for DeMille
Free Press Takes Metric Prize | Forsyth to Do Original E-book
Short Takes

'Egg Code' Is Big Knopf BuyA literary first novel called The Egg Code by young writer Mike Heppner has just made a six-figure sale, as part of a two-book package, to Gary Fisketjon at Knopf. It is a huge manuscript (which the author is planning to cut down somewhat) that embraces the history of print, from 11th-century China through Gutenberg to a CIA investigation of the theft of some computer codes in the early years of PCs, and embraces no less than the study of human languages and their relation to mankind. It is, says agent Richard Abate at ICM, who made the sale, "funny and profound, beautifully written, and I think it will be a classic." He offered the book exclusively to Fisketjon, "who immediately saw it, as I knew he would." Abate describes it as "like a cross between Richard Powers and Don DeLillo." The editor bought North American, U.K. and first serial, and ICM retains translation. The second book in the deal will revolve around the passengers on a plane in danger of crashing and their infinite relationships to each other and the world below. Heppner is 26 years old and studied with Michael Cunningham.

Early Movie Sale for DeMilleThe new novel by Nelson DeMille is called Up Country, and it's a sequel to his highly successful The General's Daughter. Although it isn't even finished yet--Warner plans to bring it out next fall with a first printing of a million copies--Paramount, which had first refusal, snatched up movie rights for a seven-figure sum on the basis of a synopsis alone. Mace Neufeld has been tapped as producer, and John Travolta has been approached to star again as U.S. Army investigator Paul Brenner. This time Brenner travels to Vietnam to solve a murder that occurred there during the Vietnam War. DeMille's agent, who makes his movie as well as his book deals, is Nick Ellison.

Free Press Takes Metric PrizeA book that was all the buzz in New York last week--and sold to several visiting pre-Frankfurt foreigners before the hot American auction was finally concluded--was bought in the end by Bill Shinker,head of S&S's newly aggressive Free Press, for a "significant" mid-six figures. It is The World's Measure by Northwestern University professor Ken Adler and tells the story of how two Frenchmen, Mechain and Delambre, invented the metric system of measurement during the French Revolution. They actually took separate coach journeys to make their measurements; one made a mistake that he regretted until his dying day, and the other sealed the records to conceal the error. Adler got to see the documents, even bicycled their route, to write the book. Christy Fletcher at the Carlisle Agency made the North American rights sale after fielding bids from eight publishers; she also sold to the U.K. and Germany, both on six-figure preempts; Japan and Brazil have also been sold, and offers are in from Sweden and Italy. The book will be edited by Free Press v-p and senior editor Bruce Nichols.

Forsyth to Do Original E-bookBritish thriller author Frederick Forsyth has just followed Stephen King into the e-world of original fiction by big-name authors through a deal with the U.K.'s Online Originals for a series of five new stories that are collectively titled Quintet. In the deal, arranged through agent Ed Victor, the first two stories, The Veteran and The Miracle, will appear on Online Originals' site next month to coincide with the Frankfurt Book Fair. The stories, which will ultimately be collected together, will be available in a variety of e-book formats and also via online bookstores. Online Originals, which calls itself the U.K.'s largest e-book publisher, has also announced its nominations for Frankfurt's E-book Prize, which awards $100,000 for the best original e-book.

Short TakesBallantine editorial director Maureen O'Neal made a preemptive bid for two commercial women's fiction titles from Anne D. LeClaire, whose work she describes as in the vein of Sue Miller and Jacquelyn Mitchard. O'Neal paid six figures for North American, and the first book, Entering Normal, is about two women both learning to cope with the loss of children; it will be Ballantine's lead fiction title next summer. Deborah Schneider of Gelfman Schneider, made the deal.... A book by a granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt, Nina Roosevelt Gibson,writing with J l Engel, will tell how Eleanor rescued her as a young girl from her dysfunctional family and gave her the love she needed; it's called The Angel of Hyde Park and was sold by agent Brian DeFiore to Trish Lande Grader at Morrow for publication in winter 2002....
African-American author Kimberla Lawson Roby has made a two-book deal with Dutton's Carole Baron after having published successfully with Kensington, where her books have been Blackboard bestsellers; Baron beat out seven other interested publishers in a best-bid North American (plus audio) offer to agent Elaine Koster.