An article in Wednesday's Style section about management changes at Random House did not specify Harold Evans's former title at U.S. News & World Report. From 1984 to 1986 he was editorial director. (Published 11/2/90)

Media magnate S.I. Newhouse Jr. again shuffled the top management of his book and magazine conglomerate yesterday by naming Harold Evans, editor in chief of Conde Nast Traveler magazine and a former editor of the Sunday Times of London, to be president and publisher of Random House Adult Trade Books.

Evans, 62, succeeds Joni Evans, 48, who is no relation. She was given her own book publishing imprint under the Random House umbrella, and the changes are effective immediately.

The replacement of one Evans by another took most of Random House by surprise. Joni Evans had not appeared to be in any jeopardy, and Harold Evans, despite several past forays in book publishing, struck many as a peculiar choice for such a visible and taxing management role.

It was not clear whether Joni Evans, a former president of Simon and Schuster's trade division, had requested relief from her executive responsibilities in order to "build my own list {and} work with my authors on a full-time basis," as the official announcement maintained.

"The only way to get your own imprint," one New York publisher observed, "is either to earn it or to get demoted." Those who took a similar view saw the fingerprints of Newhouse, who has a reputation for abruptly dismissing his top-level employees. "Newhouse is the George Steinbrenner of publishing. He likes to do interesting, surprising things," said another publishing insider. Speaking from a Random House party celebrating the day's developments, Joni Evans said the change was all her idea. "It was time to renegotiate my contract, and I said I'd like to now do what I originally wanted -- to work more closely with authors, spend more time with the publishing process and just relax. I'm not miserable as publisher of Random House, but I am exhausted."

Succeeding Harold Evans as editor in chief of the National Magazine Award-winning Conde Nast Traveler will be its executive editor since early last year, Tom Wallace, a former editor at Newsday and the New York Times.

Harold Evans's appointment to head one of the nation's largest book publishing houses represents the latest in the Briton's many lives in the American media. Since his parting of the ways with the Times of London and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, eight years ago, Evans has worked in the United States as a senior editor of Mortimer Zuckerman's U.S. News & World Report and as editor in chief of Atlantic Monthly Press, at the time another Zuckerman property.

In the mid-1980s, Evans had a consulting role in the early days of the Weidenfeld & Nicolson publishing house before joining Conde Nast -- where his wife, Tina Brown, is the celebrated editor in chief of Vanity Fair -- and founding Conde Nast Traveler, which has become a critical and financial success in the magazine world, in 1987.

Joni Evans left Simon and Schuster at about the same time to join Random House, where she was planning to start her own book imprint. Just a few weeks later, she was tapped to head the flagship house itself. With yesterday's move, she came full circle. No name has been chosen for her new imprint, which will produce approximately 20 books a year. "I even named my dog TK because I can never think of names," she said. (TK is an editorial notation meaning something is "to come.")

Harold Evans said yesterday that the Random House position was "something I couldn't refuse," citing the tempting prospect of working with such eminent Random House authors as Norman Mailer, Mario Puzo, William Styron and Peter Matthiessen. As an executive vice president of the parent Random House Inc., he will also oversee operations of Villard Books and Times Books.

Harold Evans, who was described by Joni Evans as a "Renaissance man," is one of four Britons in prominent positions in the Newhouse media family, the others being Tina Brown at Vanity Fair; Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue; and Sonny Mehta, president of Alfred A. Knopf. Harold Evans and Brown's second child, Isabel, was born Monday.