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Sales of O.J. Simpson Bestseller Slowing

In the four weeks since its publication, O.J. Simpson's book ``I Want to Tell You: My Response to Your Letters, Your Messages, Your Questions'' has become ``the fastest selling book in Little, Brown history,'' says Beth Davey, the publisher's spokeswoman.

The well-publicized book, in which Simpson writes that he is ``one hundred percent not guilty'' of killing his ex-wife and her friend, was released the week his trial began. A substantial initial printing of 500,000 copies was quickly exhausted, and a week later 100,000 more were rolled out.

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Written with the help of Lawrence Schiller, who interviewed Mr. Simpson in jail, the book has dominated bestseller lists in the past few weeks.

But its momentum appears to be slowing. It has fallen from the top seller to No. 3 at the 966 stores of Barnes and Noble Inc., says Lisa Herling, a company vice president.

Independent booksellers report moderating sales as well, and many, like Dana Brigham, manager and part owner of Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass., have adopted a passive approach to promotion of this controversial read: ``We made a decision to carry the book, but not not to feature it in any way.''

Thrillers by Alcott

THE Simpson trial is just the kind of story that might have appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper - one of several 19th-century periodicals that published the early page-turners of Louisa May Alcott, author of the children's classic ``Little Women.''

To help support her family financially, Alcott penned many ``sensational'' works of fiction prior to the success of her children's books. This year readers will have new opportunities to sample the anonymous and pseudonymous writings of the Concord, Mass., native - tales that feature adventure, intrigue, and feminist characters.

Among the works available will be a previously unpublished romantic thriller called ``A Long Fatal Love Chase,'' due out in September from Random House. The 1866 novella was discovered by a collector of Alcott's work, who sold the rights in December.

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In May, ``Louisa May Alcott Unmasked: Collected Thrillers,'' will be published by Boston's Northeastern University Press. The book is edited by Madeleine Stern, a longtime Alcott scholar and biographer, who is also writing the introduction for the Random House book. Ms. Stern edited the first collection of Alcott's spellbinders, ``Behind the Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott,'' a 1975 book that William Morrow & Co. will reissue in October.

In a phone interview, Stern says that although collections of Alcott's ``marvelous'' thrillers have been available since 1975, the Northeastern publication will mark the first time all five previous anthologies will be combined into one volume.

``The reader will have a feast,'' she says of the collection, ``and the scholar will be able to perceive the fact that Louisa May Alcott was not just a children's friend, but a writer of great complexity who tried many different genres and succeeded in most of them.''

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