The biggest of all time?

<p>For Transworld, it has been a long wait. Dan Brown&rsquo;s <i>The Da Vinci Code </i>was published five years ago, and after over 81 million copies sold globally, a high-profile High Court case and numerous rumoured publication dates (it was originally mooted for a 2007 release), the world will finally get to read the further adventures of Harvard University professor of symbology Robert Langdon and his brushes with dastardly freemasons.</p>
<p>It is the biggest publishing event since the release of J K Rowling&rsquo;s Hogwart&rsquo;s swansong, <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</i> in July 2007, and Transworld&rsquo;s initial one million copy hardback print run in the UK certainly shows it is feeling very confident indeed. Crucially, it is surely good news for a trade as a whole still struggling in the economic doldrums.</p>
<p>&quot;It&rsquo;s all falling into place, and I&rsquo;m pleased with the way it is going,&quot; says Transworld publisher, and Brown&rsquo;s UK editor, Bill Scott-Kerr, praising the &quot;company-wide effort&quot; in building the excitement and getting the book to market. &quot;It is a massive logistical undertaking to actually get this amount of books ready for retailers.&quot;</p>
<p><i>The Lost Symbol </i>has some large boots to fill. In the UK, <i>The Da Vinci Code </i>topped Nielsen BookScan&rsquo;s Mass Market Fiction chart for 62 of the 87 weeks from 6th March 2004 to 29th October 2005, with the film tie-in edition also hitting number one for four consecutive weeks from 13th May 2006. The mass market and tie-in editions topped the overall Top 50 for 46 weeks in that period. All editions of the book have life sales of 5.2 million copies through Book-Scan&rsquo;s Total Consumer Market, with value sales at &pound;27.9m. It has broken a number of records since Nielsen started compiling records in 1998, including longest spell at number one, and the original mass market edition with 4.5 million copies sold is the biggest selling book since '98. <br />
<b><br />
Number one with a bullet</b><br />
With the buzz and hype around the book, it is odds on to hit the top spot in the week of publication (it may do so on pre-orders alone). But how long will it remain there and how successful will it be? Perhaps the X-factor in predicting <i>The Lost Symbol </i>sales is that so far Brown has primarily been a mass market phenomenon, although <i>The Da Vinci Code </i>hardback illustrated edition released for Christmas 2004 has rather chunky life sales of just under 150,000. With retailers scrambling for market share, the average selling price will surely be low, but there still is a leap for customers paying around &pound;4 for a mass market edition and, say, &pound;9 or &pound;10 for a hardback.</p>
<p>And there is certainly some competition this autumn with fiction titles from heavy hitters such as Cecelia Ahern, Michael Connelly, Audrey Niffenegger, Kate Mosse, James Patterson, Stieg Larsson, then a bit later, Terry Pratchett, Martina Cole and Patricia Cornwell to name but a few. And for the overall top spot, on the non-fiction side top titles include books from Peter Kay, Ant and Dec, Jamie Oliver and Jeremy Clarkson,&nbsp; not to mention perennial chart topper <i>The Guinness Book of World Records</i>.</p>
<p>But if Brown&rsquo;s time at the top is relatively short, does that matter? Given that many competitors have tweaked their publishing schedules to avoid getting lost in <i>The Lost Symbol </i>hoopla, there is a good chance that Transworld could shift the bulk of those 1.5 million copies in just a few weeks. That other most recent publishing event, Rowling&rsquo;s last Harry Potter, was certainly top heavy; the book spent five weeks in pole position in the Top 50 (and nine as the top Children&rsquo;s Hardback), but the bulk of sales came in the first two weeks, with a record 1.8 million copies sold in the first day.</p>
<p><i>The Lost Symbol</i> will certainly not match that first-day figure, as Rowling has rabid fans who buy her books immediately. Past sales would suggest a more slow burning effect for Brown (or continually fast burning, if you will), &agrave; la current bestseller queen Stephenie Meyer, but again, we are in new territory with a hardcover.<br />
<b><br />
Good for the trade</b><br />
As mentioned above, other publishers have been wary about going head to head with <i>The Lost Symbol</i>. The raw data suggests that publishers have moved books to the first half of the month to avoid the Brown juggernaut: 71% of September hardback fiction titles are being published in the first two weeks, compared to last year when titles were spread more evenly throughout the month (64% published in weeks one and two). Big name authors whose publication dates were moved include Nick Hornby and Sebastian Faulks.</p>
<p>Other publishers should be wary. Previous analysis in <i>The Bookseller</i> (&quot;The Dan Brown Effect&quot;, 7th August) showed that in years when Brown was enjoying huge popularity, non-Brown fiction sales grew at a much slower rate than when Dan Brown was an unknown (Rowling had a similar cannibalising effect on the rest of the children&rsquo;s market at the launch of her Harry Potter novels). The effect in a downturn, when shoppers may be choosy about the number of hardbacks they buy, could be even greater.</p>
<p>For booksellers, Brown will certainly be the main driver of trade to the chains, supermarkets and online. But with discounts likely to be around 50% and above in those channels, the Brown bonanza will most likely bypass independents. &quot;It&rsquo;s not going to be a big deal for us, but we will still stock it and sell it, and make sure it&rsquo;s prominent on publication,&quot; says Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr B&rsquo;s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. &quot;But we won&rsquo;t be doing any point-of-sale because we won&rsquo;t sell a big enough volume. Quite frankly, we&rsquo;ll sell more of the new Ishiguro than the new Dan Brown.&quot; Gary Kingdon, owner of Badger Books in Burnley, agrees: &quot;We just can&rsquo;t compete on price when [chains and supermarkets] are having this much off it. It&rsquo;s not even viable. But we have had customers asking when it&rsquo;s out; I think they&rsquo;re just picking our brains and not wanting to buy it here.&quot;<br />
<br />
<b>Add-ons</b><br />
The difficulties of indies aside, what the Brown effect will create is a mountain of press coverage, an increase in footfall and a general excitement about books. &quot;It&rsquo;s one of those books where the whole trade will go into a frenzy,&quot; says Chris Rushby, buying director at Bertrams. &quot;It is good for the trade overall in the sense that it gets people into bookshops a few weeks before 'Super Thursday&rsquo;.&quot;</p>
<p>While the rest of hardback fiction sales might suffer, canny booksellers can take advantage of the many Brown-ite books out there&mdash;the mass of historical conspiracy theory thrillers that have followed in <i>The Da Vinci Code</i>&rsquo;s wake. Flagging up titles such as J L Carrell&rsquo;s <i>The Shakespeare Secret</i> (Sphere), Mario Reading&rsquo;s <i>The Nostradamus Prophecies</i> (Atlantic), and Scott Mariani&rsquo;s <i>The Heretic&rsquo;s Treasure </i>(Avon), alongside <i>The Lost Symbol </i>and at till points and windows with &quot;if you loved Dan Brown then you&rsquo;ll love this&quot; marketing, may lead to add-on sales.</p>
<p>Additionally, there are a raft of impending &quot;guide to&quot; titles such as <i>The Rough Guide to the Lost Symbol</i> (Rough Guides), <i>Behind the Lost Symbol </i>(Michael O&rsquo;Mara) and <i>Decoding the Lost Symbol</i> (Mainstream). If past performance is anything to go by, books like these can be essential; the original and movie tie-in editions of <i>The Rough Guide to The Da Vinci Code </i>have combined life sales of over 108,000. Indeed, even pre-publication there have been add-on sales: Ian Gittins&rsquo; <i>The Secrets of the Lost Symbol</i> (Collins) released in late August has already shifted 1,500 copies. Booksellers can also cash in on selling the DVD of the Tom Hanks &quot;Angels &amp; Demons&quot; film, which Sony Home Entertainment is releasing the day before the book is released, with marketing tied in to the book launch.</p>
<p>The e-book will also be launched simultaneously with the hardback, a move that could push digital sales more into the mainstream. Pricing may be key. Transworld has set the r.r.p. at &pound;18.99, the same as the hardback. There is no word yet from &#8232;e-tailers as to what the selling price will be, but Waterstone&rsquo;s is offering a free <i>Lost Symbol</i> e-book for customers who pre-order one of the new generation of Sony Readers, with customers given a &pound;9.50 voucher to redeem against downloading the &#8232;e-book, though the company warns that the price may rise by the time of &#8232;publication.</p>
<p><b>ONES TO BEAT:</b></p>
<p>Dan Brown will not break Nielsen's single-week volume sales record: <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows</i>' 1.8 million in sales for the week ending 21st July 2007 eclipses <i>The Lost Symbol</i>'s entire print run (in fact those sales were just in a single day).</p>
<p>Rowling holds 11 of the first 12 single-week records, and is the only author to have shifted over a million copies in one week, for <i>Deathly Hallows</i>, and in the first weeks of publication, for <i>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix</i> (1,470,067 copies) and <i>Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince</i> (1,451,718). Peter Kay's <i>The Sound of Laughter </i>is the first top non-Potter book, shifting 165,462 in the week before Christmas 2006.</p>
<p>Hitting the single-week record for Original Fiction is possibly within reach, though Rowling's 790,622 copies sold for the <i>Deathly Hallows</i> adult edition my be tough to beat. If not surpassing Rowling in Original Fiction, Brown will almost assuredly be the top non-Potter, with other single-week highs including Thomas Harris' <i>Hannibal Rising</i> (54,191, 50,554 and 42,502 in consecutive weeks in December 2006 ), Sebastian Faulks' 007 makeover<i> Devil May Care</i> (44,093 in the week ending 31st May 2008), Terry Pratchett's <i>Making Money </i>(37,425 in w/e 29th September 2007) and Martina Cole's <i>Close</i> (37,423 in w/e 28th October 2006).&nbsp; <br />
&nbsp;</p>
<p><b>Top Number One* sales:</b></p>
<p>1. <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows </i>(children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 1,842,063</p>
<p>2. <i>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix&nbsp;</i>&nbsp; Rowling, J K (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 1,470,067</p>
<p>3.<i> Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince </i>(children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 1,451,718</p>
<p>4. <i>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</i> Rowling, J K (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 866,639</p>
<p>5. <i>Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince</i> (children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 847,472</p>
<p>6. <i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows </i>(children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 605,292</p>
<p>7. <i>The Tales of Beedle the Bard</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) 367,625</p>
<p>8. <i>The Tales of Beedle the Bard&nbsp;&nbsp;</i>&nbsp; Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) 251,724</p>
<p>9. <i>Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince</i> (children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 216,058</p>
<p>10. <i>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Rowling, J K (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 188,038</p>
<p>11. <i>The Sound of Laughter&nbsp;</i>&nbsp;&nbsp; Kay, Peter&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Century) &nbsp;&nbsp; 165,462</p>
<p>12.&nbsp;<i> The Tales of Beedle the Bard&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</i> Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) 159,337</p>
<p>13. <i>Jamie&rsquo;s Italy</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Oliver, Jamie&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Michael Joseph) &nbsp;&nbsp; 154,769</p>
<p>14.&nbsp;<i> Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows </i>(children&rsquo;s edition) Rowling, J K&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Bloomsbury) &nbsp;&nbsp; 127,305</p>
<p>15. <i>The Da Vinci Code</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Brown, Dan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Corgi) &nbsp;&nbsp; 125,157</p>
<p>16.&nbsp; <i>My Booky Wook</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Brand, Russell&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Hodder) &nbsp;&nbsp; 112,379</p>
<p>17. <i>The Da Vinci Code</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Brown, Dan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Corgi) &nbsp;&nbsp; 106,155</p>
<p>18.&nbsp; <i>Why Don&rsquo;t Penguins&rsquo; Feet Freeze?</i>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; New Scientist&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Profile) 104,638</p>
<p>19.&nbsp; <i>Jamie&rsquo;s Italy&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</i> Oliver, Jamie&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (Michael Joseph) &nbsp;&nbsp; 104,106</p>
<p>20.&nbsp; My Side&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Beckham, David&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; (CollinsWillow) &nbsp;&nbsp; 103,508<br />
<br />
*A Top 20 ranking of the highest sales achieved by number ones only</p>