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Gorbachev's `Perestroika' hits the big time

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He didn't travel on the author's circuit. There were no late-night call-in shows. And he didn't hold signing parties for suburban housewives. Nevertheless, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's book, ``Perestroika,'' made the New York Times best-seller list last Sunday.

According to publisher Harper & Row, Mr. Gorbachev's book has sold nearly 225,000 copies in its first two printings. Publisher Michael Bessie says it is likely there will soon be a third printing of the book, which was issued Nov. 18.

One reason for the big sales is the reporting that led up to the December superpower summit: Gorbachev was on newscasts almost every night through November. And just this week, Time magazine made Gorbachev its ``man of the year,'' devoting 14 full-color pages to the reform-minded Soviet leader.

``People are fascinated by him, and I think the media have contributed to it,'' says Sidney Gross, a merchandise buyer for Doubleday in New York.

Mr. Gross says Doubleday stores reported that it was one of its most widely gift-wrapped books over the holidays.

The cash registers are likely to keep ringing over the next few weeks as well.

Once a book becomes a best seller, more stores feature it, giving the book a boost.

Bessie says he has already been informed that the book will move up next week from its 15th ranking on the Times list. The book is already ranked third on Doubleday's list of best-selling books at its 28 stores.

``Perestroika,'' the Russian word for Gorbachev's reform program, is red hot internationally, too.


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