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Book Publisher Begets a Shortcut to the Bible

August 26, 1993|PAUL D. COLFORD

Get ready for Bible Lite. Simon & Schuster plans to publish the Bible with what it regards as the dull stuff taken out. No begats. No long genealogies to slow down that Old Testament. According to the publisher, the cuts are designed to help make the Bible read "as literature."

Yes, "The Bible," subtitled "Designed to Be Read as Living Literature" and using the language of the King James version, is scheduled as a $25 November release--with a print run of 100,000 copies, national advertising and other publicity.

Simon & Schuster recently was soliciting book-jacket blurbs to tout the text, which has been "updated," the catalogue says, by Lodowick Allison, a religion writer and former editor-in-chief of Art and Antiques magazine.

In The New Republic, senior editor Michael Kinsley proposed a few blurbs of his own, such as: "If you liked 'The Bridges of Madison County,' you'll love 'The Bible.' " Or, how about "absolutely divine."

To be fair, Simon & Schuster has done this successfully before. In 1936, the company published Ernest Sutherland Bates' streamlined Bible, which was a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and became a best seller. It is the Bates edition that Allison has dusted off and updated.

Nevertheless, watch tempers flare. The Forward, a Jewish weekly, reported in a Page 1 story that the Simon & Schuster "Bible" has shrunk the Book of Leviticus to two-and-a-half pages, because, Allison tells the paper, "the Levite and legal codes . . . are not only impenetrable but are unimportant to today's reader."

The Forward then quotes Jewish leaders and rabbis who express outrage at the development.

And Simon & Schuster thought it had problems with Joe McGinniss' "The Last Brother."

Book News

The graphic Bosnia dispatches of Newsday foreign correspondent Roy Gutman, whose groundbreaking coverage about death camps and other horrors earned him a 1993 Pulitzer Prize, have been collected in "A Witness to Genocide," a new $12 trade paperback published by Macmillan. Gutman says the accounts "speak for themselves," as do his introductory history lesson and author's note about how he got the story . . . .

The Putnam Berkley Group has signed Mary Tyler Moore to write her autobiography, which will be shepherded by Putnam senior editor Laura Yorke . . . .

On the heels of two bestsellers, "United We Stand" and "Not for Sale at Any Price," Ross Perot is shooting for a third. His opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement will be argued in "Save Your Job, Save Your Country," a trade paperback that Hyperion plans to publish on--you got it--Labor Day.

On the Racks

Steven Hoffenberg says that he's been in the newspaper business for 20 years--"on the accounts receivable side"--as the owner of Towers Financial Corp., a debt-collection agency.

And here we thought that his stay in the inky vineyard lasted only those few winter weeks when he tried to buy the New York Post.

You remember Hoffenberg, the 11th-hour savior from obscurity who took over the Post from the financially battered Peter Kalikow, and then came under fire from the Securities and Exchange Commission as he sought to buy the tabloid outright. Bankruptcy court questioned Hoffenberg's ability to honor guarantees and ultimately allowed investor Abe Hirschfeld to own the paper.

Hoffenberg is back in the newspaper game with what he calls "a great concept" for the 3 million working women in New York City. On Oct. 1, he will launch Her New York--a new, full-color, five-day-a-week tabloid.

Marcia Cohen, a former Daily News editor and author of "The Sisterhood," will be editor-in-chief; Barbara Gordon, author of "I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can," entertainment editor; Barbara Haigh, former editor-in-chief of Playgirl, will be lifestyle editor. Offices are in Trump Tower.

Hoffenberg plans eight or nine pages of women-oriented news at the front of each issue, with seven to nine pages of lighter stuff at the back, including a "Hillary Watch." He says The Record, the northern New Jersey daily, will print Her New York and distributors are waiting to truck about 100,000 copies a day (for starters) to 3,000 newsstands.

Her New York comes to life with loans of $3 million from colleagues, Hoffenberg says. He estimates ad revenues of $5 million a year.

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