"Book buyers seem to be responding to some combination of her name, the subject and the jacket," said Random House publicity director Tom Perry about Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by bestselling religion author Elaine Pagels (The Gnostic Gospels et al.). The book started selling "in great numbers out of the box," Perry reported, "before any media had started." The first printing was 30,000 copies (pub date: May 6); five trips back to press have brought that number to a hefty 128,000. What Perry calls "the first big pop" occurred right after the author's May 16 interview on PBS's Now with Bill Moyers, which was followed by a stint on NPR's Fresh Air. Pagels's five-city tour included a mix of bookstore and church lectures, "with hundreds in attendance." Still to come are features in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

With reporting by Dick Donahue