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Joni Evans to Head Random

October 18, 1987|ELIZABETH MEHREN

NEW YORK — Joni Evans has replaced Howard Kaminsky as head of trade book publishing at Random House, Robert L. Bernstein, chairman of the publishing giant, announced last Tuesday. Evans had been head of trade publishing at Simon & Schuster until just two months ago when she was hired to begin a new imprint within Random House. Until the unexpected announcement, Kaminsky had been regarded not just as a success in his current job but as Bernstein's most likely successor; Random House is owned by the Newhouse family, and Kaminsky was thought to be S.I. Newhouse Jr.'s choice for the job. Kaminsky's post-Random House plans are not known. Evans, who will have the title of executive vice president and publisher of Random House Adult imprint, will not now have any other imprint of her own. Evans and Richard E. Snyder, CEO at Simon & Schuster, are married, but she has filed for divorce.

THE RETURN OF DOUBLEDAY: God in publishing Heaven, what a party! Doubleday figured it had invited about 600 people to its 90th birthday celebration. But the 20-minute line to get into the Cotillion Room at the Pierre Hotel suggested the figure was much larger, as if everyone remotely connected with Doubleday (or who had ever been remotely connected with Doubleday) showed up for a champagne toast.

Mega-best seller Bill Cosby was there, mobbed by photographers and wearing a red, white and blue Morgan State sweatsuit and red, white and blue athletic shoes. Equally besieged by paparazzi, Doubleday editor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis also attended, arriving very early and leaving very, very early. Irving Stone was there (Doubleday's longest-published author), and also Isaac Asimov, Doubleday's most prolific author.

Doubleday's newest editor is Daniel Boorstin, now sporting the title of librarian of Congress emeritus, awarded to him by unanimous vote of both houses of Congress on his retirement in September. As editor-at-large, Boorstin will be taking a close look at Doubleday's backlist, hoping to recommend for republication those books that "remind us of our political and literary heritage." Publisher and president Nancy Evans said Boorstin will also acquire "quality nonfiction and reference works."

While bronze busts of famous Doubleday authors were in evidence, a birthday cake was not. "That's so you won't get fat," said Evans, working on her own personal great expectation, a first child due in February.

THE CONTRA CONNECTION: Interest in the Iran-c ontra scandal has prompted Atlantic Monthly Press to up the publishing date on a book by CBS News producer Leslie Cockburn about White House funding of the Nicaraguan rebels. The book is also undergoing a name change, transformed from its original title, "Secret War," to "Out of Control: The Story of the Reagan Administration's Secret War in Nicaragua, the Illegal Arms Pipeline and the Contra Drug Connection." Originally scheduled for publication in February, the book has been pushed up to November.

SALINGER VS. RANDOM HOUSE: Writers J. Anthony Lukas, Ralph G. Martin, Kenneth S. Davis, John Hersey, Justin Kaplan and A. E. Hotchner recently filed an amici curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision prohibiting Random House and Ian Hamilton from publishing the biography of Salinger. The brief, contending that the Court of Appeals was wrong in ruling that "fair use" does not apply to unpublished letters, reflected concern on the part of the writers that the decision might affect use of similar materials for other biographical, historical and scholarly purposes. However, on October 5, the court declined to review the case. Regrettably for those who hoped that the Salinger case might become the occasion for a major clarification of "fair use," the unanimous decision was issued without comment.

CHABON'S RECORD FALLS: There is no Guinness book of publishing records, but it was widely conceded that the $155,000 advance paid earlier this year to Michael Chabon of the UC Irvine writing workshop for his first novel, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," was the largest ever paid for a first book. That record has now fallen. Melanie Thernstrom, 23, of Cornell University's writing program will be paid $367,500 by Pocket Books for "The Dead Girl," a nonfiction account of a grisly murder and of student life at Harvard University.

IN MEMORIAM: From Paris, to which he was forced into exile in 1974, comes word that Soviet author Victor Nekrasov has died at 76. Nekrasov won the Stalin Prize for literature in 1947 for his book "In the Trenches of Stalingrad." He fell into disgrace later, after speaking out against the banishment of fellow writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

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