Sales of the Bible, the Koran and books containing the prophecies of a 16th-century astrologer have increased dramatically since Iraq invaded Kuwait, publishers and booksellers say.
From shortly after the August invasion through mid-October, the 1,300-store Waldenbooks chain showed a 67 percent increase in sales of prophetic books such as "The Late Great Planet Earth," according to Susan Arnold, company spokeswoman in Stamford, Conn.Sales of the Bible and the Koran also increased sharply, she said.
At B Dalton Bookseller in New York, books by Nostradamus, a French astrologer and physicist who died in 1566, are selling well, said assistant manager Terrel Holmes.
Nostradamus has been credited with predicting the rise of Napoleon and Hitler and the two World Wars. Most books interpreting his writings say he spoke of a great war occurring in the Middle East near the end of the 20th century.
John Lawton, religion book buyer for the 800-store B Dalton chain, said religious book sales are up 35 to 40 percent nationwide since the invasion.
"Bible sales have gone crazy," said Ken Sherman, sales representative for Thomas Nelson Publishers, of Nashville, Tenn., which publishes Bibles worldwide. He said sales were up 25 percent.
Several of the Bible's prophetic books refer to the rise and fall of Babylon, the ruins of which lie 60 miles south of present-day Baghdad. Some evangelicals see a coming apocalypse in Iraq's actions.
Most mainstream biblical scholars give little credence to such speculation, saying such analysis takes out of context passages that were written for a specific culture and time.