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Coming off a successful year, the Dutch-based Elsevier group has declared an interest in adding to its American acquisitions (including the Congressional Information Service). That won't be easy, considering the growing number of European firms with the same interest.... In 1988, Little, Brown and the Sierra Club will publish the first list of their just-announced joint imprint of children's books, including fiction, nonfiction, how-to, activity, and picture books.... Warner Books has acquired the diaries of Andy Warhol, the pop artist who died in February, and plans to publish them - some 200,000 words that Mr. Warhol dictated on an almost daily basis between 1976 and 1987 - in the fall of 1988....

When a publishing company goes public, it becomes vulnerable to corporate takeover. When it appears not to be acting in the best interests of the public shareholders, it is especially vulnerable. Robert Maxwell has sued Harcourt Brace Jovanovich on a charge of trying to block his takeover bid; Mr. Maxwell charges the publisher with devising an ``unlawful entrenchment scheme'' without shareholder approval. A large part of the cash received from the special dividend (shareholders will be paid a special dividend of $40 a share, Maxwell claims) will be used to purchase an additional 20 percent of the outstanding shares, thus reducing HBJ's public shareholders to minority status....

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According to Italy's book trade journal, Giornale della Libreria, translations from French have been outstripped by translations from English. Over half the books translated in 1985 were from English - 2,314 out of 4,889. And that accounts for 10 percent of all the books published in the country (22,683)....

Is this protectionism? French publishers are beginning to complain about all the red tape that's involved in selling rights to American publishers. At the center of the controversy is the contract. Many American lawyers demand that the buyer's contract be used. American contracts are very long and complicated, designed to protect the American market from foreign books. This is one reason it takes so long to get an American version of a best-selling French novel....

The following items from a recent issue of Index on Censorship are of interest:

In South Africa, Ravan Press, known for books by J.M. Coetzee and Mtutuzeli Matshoba and Mongane Serote, recently redefined its policy. Following a trend seen in the rise of broad, nonracial organizations including trade unions, the publisher shifted its emphasis from race to class. It did not go unnoticed - twice. In the first attack, the press building was covered with graffiti - ``Communist pigs'' and ``We'll be back'' - and looted; in the second, the building was bombed. Who did it? Last March, Ravan depicted its fundamental goals as unchanged: ``to publish work that challenges apartheid ideology and furthers the struggle for a democratic, classless society.''

Publishers in South Korea are still governed by the December 1980 press laws. They must obtain governmental licenses favoring large-scale operations. As a whole, books, like periodicals, are subject to the scrutiny of the Ministry of Culture and Information.