Sales Soar for Books by and About Pope

Sales of books by and aboutPope John Paul II (search) have soared since his death Saturday, with several quickly reaching the top 20 of and Barnes &

Leading titles include five by John Paul: "The Way to Christ," (search) "Memory and Identity," (search) "Pope John Paul: In My Own Words," (search) "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way" (search) and "Crossing the Threshold of "Hope." (search) Another popular book has been "Witness to Hope," a biography by George Weigel, a Catholic theologian and syndicated columnist.

Because of the pope's extended illness, both publishers and booksellers had time to prepare. Within hours of his death, HarperCollins announced that a new book by Weigel, not yet titled, would come out by the end of the year and "examine the death of the pope and the Church he left behind, while also offering an unparalleled inside account of the election of the next pope. "

"No writer today has a better understanding of the papacy than George Weigel," Tim Duggan, HarperCollins' Executive Editor, said in a statement. "I'm absolutely certain that he will provide a rich, illuminating account that stands as the defining chronicle of this next phase in the Church's history."

New books already out or coming soon include "Holy Father," by Greg Tobin, and two works by the staff of the Chicago Tribune: "A Global Pilgrim: The Journey of John Paul" and "John Paul II."

Stores around the country, from the Tattered Cover in Denver, to R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., were offering recommendations to customers. Nancy Brown, a buyer for R.J. Julia, said she was emphasizing books for children, including John Paul's "Every Child a Light."

"Children watch TV, they go to church, so this affects them, too," Brown said Sunday.

Borders Group Inc. anticipates interest in the conclave, the secret gathering of cardinals that chooses the next pope, and is citing such works as "Heirs of the Fisherman" by John-Peter Pham, and "Conclave" by Michael Walsh. Barnes & Noble Inc. has sent a long list of suggested titles to its stores, including Carl Bernstein's biography, "His Holiness," and the collaborative "John Paul II: A Pope for the People," with Arthur Hertzberg and Heinz Joachim Fischer among the authors.

"We've instructed our stores to tastefully pull together and display all the books (about the Pope) we currently have," said Bob Wietrak, a vice president for merchandising for Barnes & Noble.

Media coverage of John Paul's death will likely take attention from three major U.S. books scheduled to come out Tuesday: Jane Fonda's "My Life So Far," Jack Welch's "Winning" and Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair," her followup to the million-selling novel "The Secret Life of Bees."

A publicist for Fonda said both segments of a two-part interview with "60 Minutes" had been scheduled for Sunday, but the second segment was postponed until next Sunday. HarperCollins, which will release "Winning," and Kidd's publisher, Penguin Group USA, said no changes currently were planned.