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I’m unclear as to why anyone would want a “catalog only” mode.
I can see a need for the opposite, a “checkout only” mode, if you have the catalog already integrated with the rest of an existing web site. Then you’d just change the “add to cart” links throughout your site to use Magento instead of whatever you had before. By why catalog only?
Catalog only mode is very standard in most carts. I have a client that needs all the features of a cart, but they rent the products and don’t want to specify price. Another desired function is for logged out users to see the cart in catalog mode, and for logged in users to get pricing (i.e. often used for public vs. wholesalers.) Another use of catalog mode is to display product online, but to sell over the phone.