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Patricia A. KossmannNovember 11, 2000

If you are like me, you resent having your name on everyone’s mailing list, receiving direct mail of all sorts, mostly junk, and sometimes having your dinner hour interrupted with telephone solicitations. The scrupulous among us, however, not wanting to miss out on that one, real, authentic offer that is likely subsumed in one of those piles, unfortunately have to open and peruse each and every piece of mail. Not this week!

Allow me to use this space to share with you some notes on the Catholic Book Club, a 72-year service of America’s editors. The reason for instituting the club in the first place (people have limited time to browse hundreds of bookstore shelves, publishers’ catalogs and the like to find out what is new and what to read) still exists today. Yes, even with widespread access to the Internet, readers get dizzy trying to keep up. I am always traversing publishers’ Web sites, online bookstores, review journals and of course printed catalogsand, frankly, not only does it become tedious, it cuts a major hole in my time. But I have no choice; in fact, I get paid for it.

You, dear reader, have an alternative, at least for certain kinds of books. What has been very successful this year for the Catholic Book Club is Walter Burghardt’s Long Have I Loved You: A Theologian Reflects on His Church. You might say, in commercial-speak, that it was a runaway bestseller. If you haven’t read it, you’ll have to get a copy from the publisher, Orbis Books. Other very well received selections include John O’Malley’s Trent and All That and Signatures of Grace: Catholic Writers on the Sacraments, edited by Thomas Grady and Paula Huston. We have stock remaining on both titles.

Recent and current selections are Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century by Robert Royal, an absorbing account of modern witnesses for the faith, from just about every continent; The Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century: Renewing and Reimaging the City of God, edited by John Deedy (see America, 10/14), in which some of the country’s foremost writers and thinkers, across the spectrum of church life, examine changes over the past 100 years; and books suited for Christmas gift-giving.

Each month members receive a newsletter announcing the latest selection and a reply card (which lists on its reverse side selections from previous months/years). There is never an obligation to purchase the main selection or an alternate from the backlist. And we are able to offer members quite generous discounts, often as much as 30 percent. Some of the Internet-savvy among you will no doubt remind me, We can get 30 percent off from amazon.com as well. And you would be correct. Most of the time, anyway. The Catholic Book Club one-ups Amazon, though, in offering free freight on prepaid orders. (By the way, it has been reported in the press that, in the face of serious losses, online bookstoresand Amazon was cited in particularare reviewing their entire discount structure, and it is expected that their generous pricing will soon be a thing of the past.)

Two of America’s editors have authored books just published this fall. And of course, faithful fans will want to get copies. The CBC will be your shopping source for In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity and Obedience by James Martin, S.J., (the November selection) and With Christ in Prison by George Anderson, S.J. (December). Not to overlook another colleague, I must also let you know that our resident theologian-scientist-environmentalist David Toolan, S.J., will have a new book published next winter. You can count on hearing about it in these pages.

To our current club members, we say thanks for your interest and support. To the rest of you, presuming you stuck with this column, we ask you to consider becoming a club member. Visit America’s Web page (www.americapress.org) for more information. If you wish to be added to the CBC mailing list, drop us a line at the office or send us e-mail at cbc@americapress.-org. Then clear off some space on your bookshelves!

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