Flush from its National Book Award nomination, Sierra Club Books will soon end the agreement it had with Random House with which it attained the honor. An agreement with a new partner could be announced as early as November.

Random attributed the termination to its desire to focus on its own imprints. "This was a very straightforward decision," said Linda Loewenthal, v-p, editorial director of Harmony Books and Three River Press, who has overseen the Sierra Club agreement. "The feeling at Random House was that we didn't want to be doing distribution deals," she said, adding, "The relationship between Sierra and Random has been a good one."

Sierra editor Danny Moses said that while Sierra has been satisfied with the arrangement, "We could imagine a better match based on a more appropriate size and level of complexity." Sources familiar with the situation said that some problems cropped up when Crown inherited several Times Books imprints as a result of the restructuring after the merger with Bantam Doubleday Dell.

The co-publishing agreement goes slightly beyond a traditional distribution pact. Nonprofit Sierra works on editorial, while Random handles most other tasks, including publicity, sales, marketing and production.

Over the last few months, Sierra has been adding some of its own publicity to Random's efforts. For the NBA nominee, My Story, As Told by Water, it hired a freelancer, set up a tour in the Pacific Northwest and coordinated speaking engagements. The Sierra Club has also streamlined its program in recent years. Its list, once as high as 35 titles per year, is now between 15 and 20, with full-time staff now down to seven.