BOOKS / In the lists

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The Independent Culture
SINCE everybody knows that the Daily Telegraph cannot lie, you may be surprised not to see the New Roman Catholic Catechism among our paperback bestsellers, for the DT's recent report that the Catechism had reached No 16 in the paperback bestseller lists was eagerly seized upon by radio and other media. Discussion and controversy followed, and the editor of the Catholic Herald went so far as to trumpet to the world that the new Catechism was being read by 'the man on the Clapham omnibus' (does he still exist?). Unfortunately, though, the report was - well - more apocryphal than gospel. What the DT had apparently got hold of was a computer printout of raw data (from our excellent compilers, Bookwatch) which was not a league table of actual sales. With estimated sales through general trade bookshops of 900-1,000 per week, the Cathecism would have appeared, in a full paperback bestseller listing that includes fiction, somewhere around No 350. So what is the truth of the matter? Cassell's, the publishers, are claiming total orders in Britain and Eire of about 100,000 copies - a satisfying number by any standards - but as for hard sales . . . with all those special outlets, it's anybody's guess. It is all, in fact, an ineffable mystery.

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