Bestsellers at Catholic theologians' conference

This article appears in the CTSA 2016 feature series. View the full series.

San Juan, Puerto Rico — style="line-height: 20.8px;">Editor's note: NCR is reporting on the ground at this year's Catholic Theological Society of America conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Keep checking our feature series page CTSA 2016 for our coverage.

Members of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) are voracious readers and book buyers; many are book authors themselves. So it’s not surprising that, during coffee breaks and in between sessions at the annual conference, sales are brisk at the dozen publishing houses in the conference exhibit area. 

Books by conference presenters were especially popular, including Boston College theologian M. Shawn Copeland’s Enfleshing Freedom and St. John's University theologian Meghan Clark’s The Vision of Catholic Social Thought, both from Fortress Press. Conference keynoter Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley’s new book, Changing the Questions and St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Strength of Her Witness were sold out by Saturday at the conference, said Orbis acquisitions editor James Keane.

The CTSA conference “is a chance for us to see folks we wouldn’t otherwise run into and to hear about professors’ new work,” said Keane, who noticed the popularity of integral theology as well as a resurgence of interest in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Liturgical Press publisher Hans Christoffersen said books by and about Johnson, who received an award earlier at the CTSA conference, were selling well, as was NCR contributor Phyllis Zagano’s books on women deacons. “What we have most success with here is systematic theology and ecclesiology,” he said. 

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Some conference sessions were organized around specific books, including one focusing on Bernard Cooke’s Essential Writings and another on Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book, Mercy, both from Paulist Press.

Also among the books nearly sold out were The Jesuits and Globalization by Thomas Banchoff and Jose Casanova (Georgetown) and For God and Profit by Samuel Gregg (Crossroad).

Despite its size and heaviness, Vatican II: The Complete History was selling well, said Bob Byrns of Paulist. Conference-goers with smaller suitcases took advantage of free shipping offered by several publishers. 

[Heidi Schlumpf teaches communications at Aurora University, outside Chicago.]


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