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John F. Baker -- 2/12/01

Schulz Story: No Peanuts | Another Florida Recount | Should It Be Dot-Con?
Jazz to the Fore | Short Takes

Schulz Story: No PeanutsA year after the death of the widely beloved creator of the Peanuts comic strip, Charles Schulz, an official biography is in the works, and Hugh van Dusen at HarperCollins has it signed up. It will be by David Michaelis, author of a 1998 Knopf biography of artist N.C. Wyeth, and thereby hangs a tale. It seems that when Michaelis, a great admirer of Schulz's work, called his widow to seek her cooperation on a bio, she told him that the Wyeth book was the last one she and her husband had read together before his death last February. She naturally gave her approval, and Michaelis has already begun interviewing Schulz's family and friends for a book he expects to take about four years to write. The world rights sale was made by agent Melanie Jackson.

Another Florida RecountThe reporters at the Miami Herald do not give up on a story easily, and though George W. Bush is now president, they're still looking into the whole tangled Florida vote situation. As part of their researches, they've hired an accounting firm, BDO Seidman, to go over the disputed ballots with a fine-tooth comb and report on what they find. The results will be the centerpiece of a book to be called The Miami Herald Report: Democracy Held Hostage, which Matthew Shear, v-p and publisher of St. Martin's reference and paperback divisions, has just signed world rights for six figures. The book, which the house plans to crash out as soon as March, will be put together by a couple dozen Herald reporters, coordinated by veteran senior writer Martin Merzer. The deal was made by Ron Goldfarb of Goldfarb & Associates.

Should It Be Dot-Con?If the whole Internet stock boom turns out in the end to be a complete bust, John Cassidy, chief
Cassidy: Skeptical
of e-boom.
financial writer for the New Yorker, wants to be first out of the gate with a book. He therefore pitched, and agent Andrew Wylie promptly sold last week, a book proposal cannily titled Dot.Con: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. The buyer, after an auction that came down to the wire between HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, was the former's executive editor David Hirshey, who paid a substantial six figures for world rights. Speed is, of course, of the essence, and Cassidy, a Brit who formerly worked for the London Sunday Times,is taking a leave of absence from the magazine to crunch it out by October. Hirshey thinks the book could fill the same kind of role as Galbraith's The Great Crash on the 1929 stock market collapse and will "seek to demystify this extraordinary social and cultural phenomenon."

Jazz to the ForeThe big Ken Burns PBS-TV jazz special has certainly created a book boomlet on the wondrous music and its practitioners, and we've just learned of a couple of sales it inspired. One is of a book called A Love Supreme: The Creation of John Coltrane's Greatest Album by Ashley Kahn, who had hitherto done the same for Miles Davis's classic Kind of Blue. Viking's Rick Kot was so hot for the proposal that he made a six-figure offer within a couple of hours of receiving it to David Dunton at the Harvey Klinger agency. It was a world rights sale, and Kot expects to publish in fall 2002.

Kahn's publisher on the Davis book last year was Da Capo, which has a deal with Wynton Marsalis, the virtuoso trumpeter who was the chief talking head on Jazz. Da Capo senior editor Andrea Schulz bought a book coauthored by Marsalis and writer Carl Vigeland called Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues of Life, in which Vigeland, who became a friend, accompanied Marsalis and his group on tour and in the studio for a year. The North American buy was from Wayne S. Kabak at William Morris, and the book will be out this summer.

Short Takes
Betsy Lerner
at the Gernert Company made a two-book world rights deal (except U.K.) with Sonny Mehta and Deb Garrison at Knopf for celebrated p t Deborah Larsen, both prose
Larsen: Prose
deal for a p t.
works: Two Falling Voices, a fictional version of the true story of a Pennsylvania woman brought up as an Indian in the 18th century, and a memoir of her own early years as a nun.... Jenny Minton at Vintage took the rare opportunity of a well-received book being on the paperback market to put in a winning bid to Scribner for Inspired Sleep by Robert Cohen. This is the third novel by the author, a Whiting Award winner.... Norton president Drake McFeely won an unusual online auction for a book by Stanford economist Robert Hall. It's called, appropriately, Digital Dealing, and the author, acting as his own agent, conducted the online auction in which McFeely beat out two other bidders to secure world rights; pub date is September.