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Published: Friday, 4/22/2005

Writings of new Pope generate big demand, local booksellers say

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

In his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI has reportedly knocked Harry Potter off a list of best-selling books.

Local bookstores say they have experienced heavy demand for books by the prolific writer known until Tuesday as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Several booksellers in metro Toledo yesterday were awaiting new shipments of works by the 78-year-old Pope after customers snapped up the few available copies of his previously obscure theological and spiritual texts.

"What we had is gone," said Jennifer Habrych, a spokesman for Barnes & Noble in Toledo's Franklin Park area. A new shipment was expected this week.

While previously stocking a limited selection of his works, the store now plans to carry a broad range of his titles. The Pope has written more than two dozen books, according to a Web site operated by the "Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club."

His elevation to the papacy has been a boon for a Catholic publishing house in San Francisco that distributes English-language versions of 20 of his works in the United States.

"We were caught off guard," said Eva Muntean, a spokesman for Ignatius Press. "We sold out of everything in the first day or two. We're in a major re-print right now." Ms. Muntean said more than 100,000 books are expected to roll off presses in coming days.

Locally, demand has been especially high at religious bookstores catering to Catholics.

"A lot of people have been calling," said Ken Churchill, of Churchill's Religious Goods & Gifts in West Toledo, who estimated he received a dozen requests.

"It's been a hot, hot topic," added Midge Story, of Reger's Church Supplies & Religious Articles, also in West Toledo. "In the last 20 minutes, I had two people ask me for his books."

Owner Gina Layman put in an order for books by the Pontiff within hours of his elevation, Ms. Story added.

Drouillard Catholic Books & Gifts, Detroit Avenue, was also awaiting a shipment of books in response to requests, said Cara Drouillard.

Books by the former Cardinal Ratzinger were featured at the top of the Web site of the chain Books-A-Million yesterday.

"People are definitely interested," said Paula Anderson, spokesman for the chain's Perrysburg store in Town Center at Levis Commons.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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