· CALL BACK THE MOVERS Monday, April 28, was not a good day for the employees in the New York City office of Addison Wesley Longman. The trade books division, best known for its male-bonding tome, Iron John, had just moved the previous Friday to new digs in Manhattan. But on Monday the company decided to close the brand-new office at the end of May. The firm, which had long divided its offices between New York and Reading, Mass., now plans to publish only in those areas ”in which we have a strong, successful track record,” like business and science, says publisher David Goehring.
· WELCOME TO THE CLUB When Caleb Carr’s first novel, The Alienist, came out in 1994, bidding between the two major book clubs, The Literary Guild and Book-Of-The-Month Club, drove the price all the way up to…$17,000. Last month, when Carr’s second period mystery, The Angel of Darkness, was auctioned, BOMC paid more than $300,000 for the rights. Random House will publish Angel in October.
· PLENTY OF BIDDING When Oprah Winfrey chose The Rapture of Canaan to be this month’s selection of her Book Club, she immediately and predictably turned Sheri Reynolds into a best-selling author. And the announcement couldn’t have been better timed: The 29-year-old novelist was in the midst of selling her next book, A Gracious Plenty, about a disfigured middle-aged woman who communes with the dead. Putnam, Reynolds’ publisher, had already turned the new novel down because of Canaan’s initially poor sales. Only Harmony Books’ executive editor, Shaye Areheart, had made an enthusiastic offer for Plenty. But thanks to the Oprah pick, seven publishing houses then got into the action, bidding the price up into the mid-six figures. Reynolds, however, chose to stay with Harmony, whose final offer, reportedly $200,000, was more than $300,000 below the top bid. Gracious Plenty will be a kind of test case, since no one yet knows if Oprah’s marketing power extends to an author’s follow-up book. Areheart plans a 300,000-copy first printing in September.