Singh Strikes

Possibly setting a new bar for preempts, new Houghton senior editor Anjali Singh has acquired North American rights to Samantha Hunt's new novel, The Invention of Everything Else, even before the official start of her employment there later this month. PJ Mark at McCormick & Williams brokered the deal. Set alternately in turn-of-the-century and 1940s New York City, the book tells the story of a chambermaid at the New Yorker Hotel who befriends one of its residents, Nikola Tesla, one of the 20th century's greatest scientific geniuses. The book will be published in 2007.

Elsewhere at Houghton, Amanda Cook preempted Business Week senior writer Stephen Baker's The Age of Numbers: In Which They'll Get My Number and Yours from agent James Levine. Baker's book charts mathematicians' increasing use of online data to map individual human behavior, and explains how the mining of this data will change every aspect of our lives. Cook acquired North American rights and will publish in spring 2008.

Auctions at Trident

Concluding an auction that lasted a week, Trident's Melissa Flashman sold investor-turned-filmmaker James Scurlock's Maxed Out to Brant Rumble at Scribner. Scurlock will explore the underbelly of debt in the 21st century, introducing readers to institutions and characters that have collaborated against the interests of the average American. Publication date will be coordinated with Scurlock's documentary of the same name, which is premiering at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Tex., in early March.

And Trident's Ellen Levine completed an auction for Debra Ollivier's What French Women Know About Love and Sex, which Jackie Cantor acquired for Putnam/ Berkley. Ollivier, the author of Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, will discuss love, sensuality and other matters of the heart. Cantor acquired North American rights.

Is It Just Me?

A surprise Christmas bestseller in England, Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?, an encyclopedic rant against "phony ideas, cretinous people, useless products and doublespeak" by Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe, has touched a nerve on this side of the pond as well. Harper's Courtney Hodell has acquired U.S. rights from Time Warner UK and has enlisted one of her authors, humorist Cintra Wilson, to Americanize the book for publication here for the Christmas 2006 season. Wilson's contributions will include entries on regrettable individuals and institutions such as the Sundance catalogue, White House press secretary Scott McClellan and the Olsen twins.

The Briefing

The culmination of a three-day auction conducted by Folio's Jeff Kleinman saw Random's Will Murphy acquire North American rights to a first novel titled Finn by English teacher—turned—ad exec Jon Clinch. The book tells the story of Huck Finn's "Pap," weaving throughout and beyond Twain's version of Huck's tale.... Holt's Jennifer Barth has signed Edgar Award finalist Jacqueline Winspear for the next two Maisie Dobbs installments, to be published in winter 2008 and September 2009; agent Amy Rennert brokered the North American rights deal. Winspear's fourth book featuring the wartime nurse-turned-psychologist and investigator, Messenger of Truth, will be published this September.... Multi-Emmy— and MTV Award—nominated director and choreographer Jamie King has sold world rights to The Rock Your Body Workout Bookand DVD, a step-by-step four-week program using dance moves to increase flexibility and strength and promote weight loss, to Heidi Rodale and Zachary Schisgal at Rodale, via Trident's Eileen Cope.