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Tom Clancy, whose Cold War blockbuster The Hunt for Red October so thrilled the then president Ronald Reagan, has hit it seriously big. New York publishing circles are agog at the news that he has just scored a $75m deal - a figure so far beyond all previous advances that even Jeffrey Archer might be lost for words. Two-thirds of the loot is for the world English-language rights to two novels featuring Clancy's heroes Jack Ryan and John Clark, which Penguin US and UK will publish at an as-yet-unspecified date. The other $25m covers a multimedia deal with Clancy's company, Red Storm Entertainment, for a series of interactive computer games. That's not all: a separate deal tying in with a US TV mini-series is worth another $22m. Cool or what? Clancy's agent, Robert Gottlieb of William Morris, concedes that it's "a record". The question now is, who will break it and when?

Following the Random House takeover of the former Reed imprints (Heinemann, Methuen, Secker, et al), authors continue to show that, unlike footballers, they are not necessarily willing to participate in expensive transfers in which they have no say. Michael Ridpath, Robyn Sisman and Graham Hancock were among the first to announce that they were parting company with their publishing houses in order to follow their editors to Penguin, and this month comes news of two further defections: Lesley Pearse, whom Louise Moore built from a nobody to a best-selling women's author and to whom Reed had committed large sums of money; and Marian Keyes, the Irish author of Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married.

The latter is a particularly bitter blow for Random House, as it was they who battled it out with Reed last autumn to buy rights in four Keyes novels. With Moore and her then bosses, Tom Weldon and Helen Fraser, rooting for her, Keyes went to Reed for pounds 400,000. Now all four will live happily ever after at Penguin, while at Random House the ambitious Kate Parkin is stamping her little feet in fury.

Perhaps next year we'll be offered a diary of Fergie's Tuscan sojourn, complete with illustrations by Beatrice and Eugenie. But I shouldn't put ideas into her (red) head: she has enough of her own rattling around in there. For hot on the heels of the paperback edition of her memoirs comes Dining with the Duchess, a low-fat Weight Watchers cookbook. Signed up by Simon & Schuster, who published the memoirs, the book will be published in January when, sated with food and drink, our attention turns to summer hols and, therefore, dieting. The book will include suggestions for a "light" high tea and a recipe for the Duchess's favourite angel-hair pasta with tomatoes and basil. Whether, like dear Delia, Fergie has tested all the recipes herself seems unlikely. But, who knows, with time on her hands now perhaps she will be able to say "here's one one did earlier". And perhaps she'll soon be giving cookery demonstrations in Kwik Save. After all, a girl's got to earn a crust.

When Elvis Presley slipped the surly bonds of earth to join Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, the British rock idol Marc Bolan whimsically quipped: "I hope I don't go this week." The front pages simply weren't big enough. However, exactly a month later, on 16 September, he died instantly when his Mini slammed into a tree in Barnes. Twenty years later, the tree is a shrine and Bolan's short life and career are commemorated in a new book by Paul DuNoyer, the launch editor of Mojo and a former Melody Maker scribe.

Bolan should feel flattered, for the book is part of a series on MoDERN iCONS (sic), and deciding just who was worthy of inclusion in the series gave Virgin, its publisher, a headache the size of a rock star's worst hangover. "It is time to reflect on which of our musical heroes have shaped our generation and that of our parents," intones the press release portentously. "The series captures the fierce intoxication of popular culture, focusing on key generations."

Decide for yourself: are The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and The Jam really modern icons? What about Dylan, Bowie, Hendrix, Madonna, even dear old Leonard Cohen? Discuss.

The time when it was impossible to pick up a newspaper or magazine without having to see a photo of Peter Mayle seemed - mercifully - long gone and forgotten. Now, alas, I fear it is not so, and the lives of Mayle's unfortunate Provencal neighbours are set to be disturbed once again, this time by marauding film crews. For Phase One Productions has just paid $500,000 for the screen rights to Chasing Cezanne, a novel that finds a photographer in pursuit of an art thief and with which Mayle is once again in the US best-sellers' list.

Professor Lisa Jardine famously believes that men don't read books. Strange, then, that she has left Macmillan, where Georgina Morley successfully published Worldly Goods, for Little, Brown, where she will be published by a mere male, Alan Samson. Her subject this time is the lives of all those Renaissance scientists who were also artists. (They were also all men, but that's by the by.)

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