"Final Exit," Derek Humphry's controversial do-it-yourself suicide primer, is ringing up sales equal to Tom Clancy's new techno-thriller in some Towson bookstores, but elsewhere store managers say sales are moderate.
"Right now the book is neck and neck with Clancy," said Dee Peeler, book buyer for Greetings & Readings in Towson. "We get an order for one and an order for the other. I think it is being bought by a lot of medical professionals and people who are just curious. But I don't think we are selling it to people who want to put the advice into practice."
Sales are hot at B. Dalton in Towson Town Center. But at Waldenbooks in Marley Station, "Final Exit" has sold two to three books in a week; Mr. Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" sold 150 copies in two days.
Likewise, Mel Gordon of the six-store regional Gordon's Booksellers said that he's not sure how many copies have been sold but added that Mr. Humphry "is no Tom Clancy."
One reason for the disparity in sales may be the concentration of health professionals in the Towson area, including Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital.
David Roth, director of the Sheppard-Pratt Outpatient Depression Program, says he has recommended that his staff and students purchase the book so that they can keep up with the kind of materials suicidal people may be reading.
"I imagine, if I am recommending the book, that other people who are mental health professionals or physicians working with the terminally ill have also recommended it."
But anyone who wants the book will have to wait. Stores were cautious in their purchases because they were afraid the book wouldn't sell, and the initial press run of 40,000 has sold out, according to Fern Edison, publicity director for Carol Publishing, the book's distributor.