As The Da Vinci Code slips out of the charts, we analyse the modern mega-seller

<p>A little piece of publishing history will be made, this week or next, as the Top 50 becomes Da Vinci-free. Just sneaking into the chart this week, at 47, is the film tie-in edition of The Da Vinci Code. Since topping the chart when the adaptation of the novel was released in May, both it and the original paperback edition, now down at 68, have been slowly sliding down the table.</p><p>The The Da Vinci Code withdraws from the limelight after a continous presence in the Top 50 since March 2004. Along with Harry Potter, Dan Brown's novel has rewritten the record books of British publishing and blooded a new generation of book buyers.</p><p>The sales numbers are frightening: 4,381,312 copies sold through BookScan of the original paperback, plus nearly 400,000 for the tie-in and another 150,000 for the illustrated edition, giving a grand total of close to five million UK sales. Ex-BookScan sales, in Ireland and through non-traditional outlets, probably add at least half-million to that total. Either way, that's almost twice the life sales of the next biggest UK book in the current charts, Angels and Demons, also by Mr Brown. Indeed, with metronomic regularity for almost all of the past year, the only four books with seven-figure sales in the top 50 were by him. Total sales amount to nearly 10 million, putting Brown into almost half the households in the UK. </p><p>So Brown and J K Rowling have redefined how big a modern blockbuster can be: the bar has been raised from a million sales to four or five million. A whole series of reasons, beyond the enormous energy, readability and accessibility of the books, has enabled this to happen: better distribution, harder discounting, plus word-of-mouth turbo-charged by internet recommendation and media support. Also, faced with the bewildering number of books now published, there is a certain attraction to casual readers of an existing mega-seller. </p><p>The Da Vinci Code has spawned a run of similar themed and styled books, from obvious spoofs such as The Va Dinci Cod to The Righteous Men, The Last Templar and Labyrinth. Even though the last of those two were conceived before the Brown phenomenon, the scale of their subsequent success would have been unthinkable without him. Arguably, Brown has reinvented the Grail quest genre, first popularised by Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. It is impossible to say how many people have come to books because of Dan Brown, but it must be many hundreds of thousands at the very least.</p><p>The scale of Brown's sales makes his next book, a hardback which we are assured he is working on, pretty much guaranteed to be a million-seller. But even if he never writes another word, he has changed publishing. </p>