The inside scoop on the book world

BASIC INSTINCT Sources say the first serious biography of Kurt Cobain has just been sold to Hyperion for close to $200,000. The Will of Instinct — the title comes from a Cobain lyric — will be written by Charles Cross, a former owner and editor of the Seattle music magazine The Rocket. The book is due out in 2000.

BEFORE RENE RICHARDS, THERE WAS… Danish artist Einar Wegener, the first man to undergo a sex-change operation, has inspired a novel. Elaine Koster — who for 25 years was Stephen King’s paperback publisher before she parted ways with Signet and became an agent — has sold David Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl to Viking as part of a $350,000 two-book deal.

SLIPPING DISNEY A MICKEY There are at least three Disney exposes in the works — from journalists Kim Masters, James Stewart, and Robert Sam Anson — but they were all beaten into print by Carl Hiaasen’s Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World, an 83-page essay from Ballantine’s Library of Contemporary Thought series. The title also also came out before Michael Eisner’s own autobiography, which is now scheduled for spring 1999 (Random House had originally planned to publish the memoir last fall, but it was reportedly postponed so that Jeffrey Katzenberg wouldn’t subpoena the manuscript in his lawsuit against former boss Eisner). Hiaasen says he’s heard that Eisner is none too pleased that Ballantine, a division of Random House, published Team Rodent: ”[There was] no threat of bloodshed or anything, but there was some level of discomfort, I understand,” says the best-selling novelist, who attacks the entertainment giant in the book for despoiling central Florida. Disney spokesman John Dreyer responds that Eisner was not at all concerned with the Ballantine book, and that the real scandal was that Hiaasen supposedly ”got paid $100,000 for an essay that’s a little like warmed-over canned spaghetti.” Ouch.