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Where Their Royalties Lie

August 31, 1986|ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — Staff counsel Jan Constantine said that Macmillan, publisher of Jean Harris' "Stranger in Two Worlds," may appeal a ruling by the New York State Crime Victims Board declaring that Harris' book falls under the state's "Son of Sam" law. Under that statute, all royalties from books written by convicted criminals about their crimes go to the victims. Macmillan maintains, however, that in an initial 100-page proposal for the book, Harris, convicted of murdering Scarsdale diet inventor Dr. Herman Tarnower, planned not to write about the crime, but about prison reform. On the basis of that proposal, Harris received $45,000, and her agent, the Lantz office, was paid $5,000, for a total of $50,000 that Macmillan contends may be exempt from the crime board's decision. Macmillan does not plan to challenge an additional $50,000, plus future royalties, promised to Harris in her contract, but now deemed within the crime board's jurisdiction. The crime board said that the $100,000 (plus royalties) will be placed in escrow for five years. While declining to comment on the crime board's action, Harris reportedly had said she wanted her royalties donated to the Children of Bedford Hills, an organization she established to help the children of inmates at the institution where she is serving her 15-year-to-life sentence.

INSIDER'S STORY: Sentenced to 18 months in jail plus five years' probation and fined $5,000 on Aug. 6, 1985, former Wall Street Journal reporter R. Foster Winans has apparently spent much of the down time in his trial and subsequent appeals writing a book. The result, "Trading Secrets," arrived at St. Martin's Press chapter by chapter and will be published Sept. 29. Winans' sentence was upheld by a federal appeals court in May. A final appeal is pending, St. Martin's reports, before the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the former author of the Journal's "Heard on the Street Column," convicted of sharing the column's contents with an influential Wall Street broker the day before it was scheduled to run, begins a 12-city author's tour Sept. 9.

SOLD: Established in 1984 by Stuart W. Little and William F. Buckley to help writers buy and sell out-of-print copies of their own works, the Buckley-Little Catalogue has been sold for an undisclosed price to Kraus Reprint and Periodicals. Kraus, based in Millwood, N.Y., says the periodical will retain the name Buckley-Little and will increase distribution at least fourfold. More than 12,000 U.S. and foreign libraries will receive the publication free. In 1986, more than 600 authors paid Buckley-Little $50 each to list more than 1,000 titles. Both Buckley and Little will remain as consultants to the new catalogue, whose 1987 edition is due out in January.

JUST ADD ROYALTY AND MIX: Giving new urgency to the term "instant book," copies of "Invitation to a Royal Wedding" were on London bookshelves a brief three days after the July 23 wedding of Great Britain's Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. That same day, 25,000 copies of the picture-crammed book were airfreighted to New York. Before the royal couple had even returned from their honeymoon, Crown Publishers had "Invitation" distributed nationwide. The breakneck speed of the whole operation has prompted Colour Library Books of Surrey, England, the British publisher, to submit the book to judges at Guinness for a fastest-hardcover-book-ever publishing record.

THE WHITE STUFF: With tongue firmly implanted in cheek, G. P. Putnam's Sons has decided that "White Americans, in all their homogeneous diversity, deserve more than one slim volume to sum up their existence. They deserve two slim volumes." Hence "A Paler Shade of White: The History of White People in America, Volume II." Authors Martin Mull and Allen Rucker have dedicated their latest effort (due out in October) to "Blaine and Maggie Rose, from your alleged fathers."

GOLDEN "GIRL": In Herbert Gold's "A Girl of Forty," publisher Donald I. Fine is smelling best-seller--his first in 22 months of independent publishing. A staffer said there would be no trouble discerning when the novel about men and women in San Francisco actually does hit The List. "I think you'll be able to hear us screaming out the windows," she said.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE: "How many books did you sell in Ohio?" asked John Ehrlichman in an acerbic exchange with writer Bill Gordon. Presto! The inspiration for the title of Gordon's latest oeuvre, "How Many Books Do You Sell in Ohio?" The collection of quotes of, for and about writers and writing is published by North Ridge Books of Akron, Ohio.

THE LINEUP--Lyle Stuart has formed a new mystery/suspense imprint to be called Lyle Stuart/Irma Heldman books. And Contemporary Books will launch a new hardcover science fiction line in the spring. The new line, Isaac Asimov Presents, will be developed in conjunction with Davis Publications and will feature novels selected by Asimov and Gardner Dozois, editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Each title will include an introduction by Asimov.

At St. Martin's Press, meanwhile, a new imprint, Charis Books, will be published by Carole Baron, for the last five years vice president and publisher of Dell Publishing. Charis promises to be a "full-spectrum" line: hardcover fiction and nonfiction; trade paperbacks.

High-quality facsimiles of rare Vatican Library manuscripts will be the purview of Belvedere Press, formed in New York by an international consortium of publishers. Belvedere Press will publish 12 titles and three maps this year, ranging in price from $75 to $7,500.

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