Hot Deals

Hot Deals
John F. Baker -- 2/19/01

Crichton Moves to Harper | Albright Gets to Talk
Junger in Danger Again | Short Takes

Crichton Moves to Harper
Michael Crichton
, who in his more than 30 years at Knopf has had a dozen major bestsellers, many of them at No. 1, has moved over to continue a long association with HarperCollins president and publisher Jane Friedman that began when she was a publicity assistant on his first novel, The Andromeda Strain, in 1969. The deal was for a sum reliably reported at somewhere between $25 million and $30 million for two books, both untitled and of undisclosed content, with Harper getting world English hardcover and paperback rights and audio. Plans are to release the first of the two books simultaneously in all Harper's English-language territories next year. It was a major coup for Friedman, winning away Knopf's topselling author and adding one of the most reliable bestseller names in the business to the Harper stable. Tracing her long history with Crichton during her Knopf career, Friedman noted that "publishing is built on relationships, and Michael and I grew up together in this business." Crichton also welcomed the move as "a chance to work once again with a friend and colleague." The move was hailed by News Corp.'s Lachlan Murdoch, son of chairman Rupert, who noted that the publisher had become "an increasingly vital part of News Corp.'s print operations around the world." The deal was put together, in the face of an "aggressive" offer from Knopf, by Lynn Nesbit of Janklow & Nesbit.

Albright Gets to TalkTalk Miramax Books is becoming the house of choice for the memoirs of notable public figures lately. It was outbid for Hillary, but in recent weeks has landed New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and superlawyer David Boies. Now it has completed the hat trick by signing the memoirs, both personal and political, of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for a sum said to be just below a million dollars, after the former secretary had talked to several potential publishers. One of the clinching elements, said editorial director Jonathan Burnham, was that Talk was able to offer a star freelance editor for the project in the person of Sarah Crichton, the former Newsweek writer who had just lost her job as publisher of Little, Brown. She will work closely with Albright on her offbeat story of birth in prewar Czechoslovakia, life as a refugee in the London blitz, the postwar discovery of her family and her eventual flight to America, where she became the highest-placed woman in government history. Talk Miramax bought world rights from Washington lawyer-agent Bob Barnett at Williams and Connolly and aims to publish, said Burnham, late next year. Linda Michaels is handling foreign rights.

Junger in Danger AgainAuthor Sebastian Junger, whose The Perfect Storm became a bellwether of narrative nonfiction about human disaster, will be at it again in a collection of pieces to be called Fire, which has just been signed by the same pair of publishers that flourished with his previous book: Norton for hardcover, HarperCollins for paperback. The two houses' Starling Lawrence and Robert Jones respectively signed with agent Stuart Krichevsky for North American rights, and hardcover publication will be in October, followed a year later by a Harper trade paperback. The title entry in the new book will be about firefighters combating a deadly canyon fire in Idaho, and other danger spots to which Junger will take intrepid readers include Kosovo, Afghanistan and the deadly diamond trade in Sierra Leone.

Short TakesBloomsbury USA made an interesting leap to a name author by signing noted Harvard Law
Bell: A new book
for Bloomsbury.
Cook: Up from
a small publisher.
School alumnus Derrick Bell to a book about how to achieve success while hanging on to personal standards of conduct, which he calls Ethical Ambition. The house's executive editor Colin Dickerman preempted world rights from agent Tanya McKinnon at Mary Evans... The story of three African-American youths who met in high school in Newark, N.J., got in trouble with the law, but vowed they would all stick together and eventually become doctors, was won at auction by Cindy Spiegel at Riverhead. The three finally graduated from medical school together last May, and their story, a book called The Pact, written by Washington Post reporter and columnist Lisa Frazier, will be published next January. Spiegel bought world rights from agent Joann Davis... Pam Dorman at Viking preempted North American hard/soft rights with Ellen Edwards at NAL to two novels by Claire Cook, who was previously published by little Bridgeworks. The first is Must Love Dogs, a cheerful tale of a fortyish Irish lady who seeks a husband through want ads, and is set for summer 2002; the "significant" six-figure deal, which includes first serial, was done with Lisa Bankoff at ICM.
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