''The New York Times Book Review'' and Kathie Lee Gifford made headlines this week

WAR OF WORDS The battle between independent bookstores and the chains has just spread to The New York Times: Angered by a deal that will soon make BarnesandNoble.com the exclusive online vendor for the book section of the Times web site, some West Coast bookstore owners are refusing to provide sales figures for the Times best-seller list. ”Why should we report books like Cold Mountain, for instance, that we are discovering, hand-selling, and recommending — and that make the Times list look better — when we lose the sales once the chains get ahold of them and discount them?” asks Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Times Book Review editor Charles McGrath, calling the arrangement ”a business decision,” says: ”I am sympathetic to their complaints, and I understand the symbolism of The New York Times shaking hands with Barnes & Noble. But it’s a symbolic issue, and not a substantive one.” Tell that to the cash register.

ALL IS BRIGHT? Is beleaguered talk-show hostess Kathie Lee Gifford changing her plans for the holidays? Perhaps the folks at Hyperion have a clue. Their fall catalog vaunts a December release under the Disney children’s-book imprint called Kathie Lee Gifford’s Family Christmas, but a recent inquiry revealed that the title is now simply Christmas With Kathie Lee. In response to hubby Frank Gifford’s extracurriculars, perhaps? A Hyperion spokesperson insists the original ”was a working title, but it was never confirmed. They just came up with their own title.” Does this mean Frank won’t help Cody and Cassidy string popcorn this winter? ”It’s not appropriate for me to comment.”