The inside scoop on the book world

RE JOYCE J.D. Salinger may be coming out of hiding, albeit unwillingly. Joyce Maynard, the 44-year-old novelist (To Die For) who had an affair with the privacy-obsessed author of The Catcher in the Rye in 1972, will write a memoir about the relationship. Says Picador editor Diane Higgins, ”It’s the story of a young girl and her first love and how she has her heart broken.”

NEWS WORTHY Harry Evans, one of the most visible publishing chiefs (not least because of his marriage to New Yorker editor Tina Brown), is leaving Random House — where he has been president and publisher for seven years — to become editorial director of Mort Zuckerman’s publication group (New York Daily News, U.S. News & World Report, Atlantic Monthly). Although Evans had huge hits (Primary Colors), he had even more spectacular misses (Dick Morris’ Behind the Oval Office), and some publishing insiders believed his role was being curtailed. Editorial director Ann Godoff, widely perceived as the company’s real editorial muscle, will assume his duties. ”I’ve loved every minute of publishing, the ups and the downs,” says Evans, 69, adding that he had always wanted to return to journalism.

SAD SONGS There are any number of reasons why no publisher has bought Elton John’s autobiography with its $10 million price tag. Says one editor, ”His story has been told already.” Another publishing exec points out that John’s cowriter, Interview editor Ingrid Sischy, had an unimpressive strategy for organizing the book. But many editors blame its failure to sell on a depressed climate for celebrity memoirs, due to recent duds like Paul Reiser’s Babyhood (a reported $5 million advance), Whoopi Goldberg’s Book (rumored at $6 million), and Paula Barbieri’s The Other Woman (reportedly $3.3 million). Publisher Rob Weisbach doesn’t think anything can be blamed on Babyhood and Book. ”It’s too early to judge how they’ll fare,” he says, noting that the holiday book-buying season and paperback editions are still to come. Bids for John’s book, though, have reached only $2 million for U.S. rights.