All stories relating to Dan Brown
The stereotype has it that England is filled with recondite literati ensconced in mahogany-lined libraries reading leather-bound volumes of Romantic poetry and plump Victorian novels. This as compared to the beer-swilling philistines in America, gorging themselves on a diet of Dan Brown and Tom Clancy (if they read at all). Well, newly released data indicates that this conception is flawed. Readers in the U.K., it would seem, have every bit as much devotion to Dan Brown as their counterparts across the Atlantic.
As noted in the Guardian over the weekend, Brown took the number one spot on Neilsen Bookscan’s list of the U.K.’s best-selling books released since the company began collecting data in 1998. According to the service, which tracks 90 per cent of book purchases in the U.K., The Da Vinci Code moved 4,522,025 units between 1998 and 2010, which accounted for a staggering £22,857,837.53 in revenue. Angels and Demons, Brown’s prequel to The Da Vinci Code, took the fourth spot on the list, with 3,096,850 units sold, accounting for sales of £15,537,324.84.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of the top 10 is devoted to Harry Potter: all seven of J.K. Rowling’s books about the boy wizard are featured, with the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, taking the number two spot. The only place in the top 10 not devoted to Brown or Rowling goes to Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight, which clocks in at number nine. In fact, one has to make it to number 13 before a title by an author not among the three already mentioned appears: Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.
Perhaps surprisingly, Stieg Larsson does not crop up on the list until number 17, although the three novels in the Swedish author’s Millennium Trilogy came in at numbers one, two, and three respectively on the list of U.K. bestsellers for 2010.
The last time this Quillblogger recalls fans lining up for a book release there was a teenage wizard involved. Certainly nowhere in North America could readers be expected to queue up for a 602-page instalment of a multi-volume surrealist novel. The same is not true in Japan, however.
The CBC reports that eager fans lined up in the rain before midnight last Friday to pick up the latest volume of Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84.
Local TV reports showed readers lined up outside bookstores in the Japanese capital. The reclusive author’s publisher, Shinchosha, said 500,000 copies of the third volume were available on Friday.
The publisher has also decided to print a further 200,000 copies for release later this month, after noting the high level of advance orders.
“I have read all the Murakami novels. I’m addicted to him,” Kiyoshi Takahashi, a 52-year-old financial company manager, told Agence France-Presse.
According to the CBC, the first two volumes of Murakami’s epic, which were published by Shinchosha in May 2009, have reached a combined print run of 2.44 million copies to date. That size run is unheard of in North America for authors not named Dan Brown. The first two volumes of 1Q84 will appear in English in fall 2011. Don’t expect queues at your local Indigo.
According to a report in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Public Library had its best year ever last year in terms of patron usage.
Library users checked out more than 31 million items (books, magazines, DVDs and other materials), 5 per cent more than the year before. Actual visits to the library’s 99 branches jumped by 8.5 per cent, to 17.5 million.
Library officials credited several factors, including the recession, for the increases. As readers turned to borrowing books rather than buying, the library system increased resources for job seekers and equipped all branches with free wireless Internet. Staff also fostered a “more welcoming environment,” permitting patrons to eat and drink.
The article goes on to list some of the most frequently borrowed titles, which include, of course, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse, but also Austin Clarke’s More and Glen Downie’s poetry collection Loyalty Management, both of which were selections for the TPL’s One Book reading program.
- James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity, fought to keep a gay subplot in the novel.
- Cormac McCarthy talks about the film version of The Road in the Wall Street Journal and why you won’t find a signed copy of the book
- Remember when Scholastic tried to censor a tween book because one character had two moms? Mobylives reports that parent fanatics are at it again, this time trying to ban the entire Scholastic catalogue
- The Telegraph posted their definitive Books of the Noughties. Nothing very surprising – White Teeth, Atonement, Brick Lane - Dave Eggers’s memoir comes in fourth, right behind good ol’ Dan Brown, Obama’s memoir, and bien sur, Harry Potter at number one. Sigh.
Bookish links from around the Web:
- Douglas Coupland really wants you to name his new Toronto park, and Scott Feschuk wants you to name his dog
- J.K. Rowling is now on Twitter, The Huffington Post reports, but she follows no one and has only three tweets. The billionaire author has 49,570 followers despite the fact that she doesn’t seem to comprehend what a tweet is
- Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Sox gets the beat box treatment. As Scope Notes says, “If you knew that Dr. Seuss invented the word ‘crunk,’ then this will seem like a natural combination”
- Charles Dickens: writer, social reformer … pirate fighter? It’s not what you think
- In honour of Banned Books Week in the U.S., here’s an interactive map of books that have been challenged and banned in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech (apparently, people still have an issue with gay penguins). The American Library Association also has a video to help children understand what Banned Book Week means
- The Telegraph finds 50 factual errors in Dan Brown’s best-selling novels
Americans have “Black Friday,” the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is the start of the Christmas shopping fiasco season, and which can, on occasion, lead to actual loss of life. It’s hard to imagine book buyers trampling store employees to death to get their hands on the new Audrey Niffenegger title, but British retailers are boning up for what they’re calling “Super Thursday” this Oct. 1, when a staggering 800 titles will publish in advance of the Christmas selling season.
With the months between October and December accounting for anywhere from 30% to 40% of annual sales, publishers obviously have a lot invested in the books that will drop this week. But one wonders how anyone hopes to break out of the pack with so many titles appearing on store shelves simultaneously. From the Guardian:
“It’s nice to have a day that feels quite special, because it is a rare title that is truly big enough to be a publishing event in itself,” says Julia Kingsford, head of marketing at bookseller Foyles. “But the inevitablility, with 800 books coming out on this one day, is that there will be things that are missed. There are an awful lot of books published, and not everything can be number one.”
Of course, British publishers can breathe (somewhat) easier knowing that the behemoth blockbuster of the fall, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, has already dropped, so they’ll only have the ripple effects of its publication to deal with. Still, with new books from Terry Pratchett, Kate Mosse, Ozzy Osborne, and Stieg Larsson among those set to appear on Thursday, it’s a tight field.
Meanwhile, publishers in both the U.S. and Britain are gearing up for that other fall ritual: the Frankfurt Book Fair. Publisher’s Weekly gives a rundown of some of the big titles that reps will be taking with them to the annual fair, and it’s another cornucopia of big names and potential blockbusters. Some highlights:
- Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis’s sequel to Less than Zero
- 1Q84, Haruki Murakami’s doorstopper of a novel
- The Living Dead, zombie maestro George A. Romero’s first novel
- Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson’s follow-up to the best-selling Three Cups of Tea
- Insatiable, a modern-day sequel to Dracula by chick-lit mainstay Meg Cabot
- Horns, by best-selling Stephen King progeny Joe Hill
- The Memory, an adult novel from “Sisterpants” author Ann Brashares
- Committed, the new book from Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame
- The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, a typically uncontroversial novel from Philip Pullman
- Revenge, the fiction debut from Sharon Osbourne (what’s good for the goose…)
Last week, when Amazon trumpeted the news that first-day Kindle sales for Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol were actually higher than print sales, pundits predictably went to town with the usual “death of the book” routine. Now that the first week of sales has been tabulated, however, it looks like the news was much ado about nothing. According to The Business Insider:
The Lost Symbol sold just 100,000 in e-books format according to Doubleday. Overall Doubleday sold 2 milllion copies. The 5% ratio of e-books to print is about in-line with the average for book sales.
The first day sales of The Lost Symbol were better on the Kindle than in print for Amazon, so if there’s good news for the young e-book industry, it’s that people like to buy books right away on their Kindles. Other than that, there’s nothing much to crow about.
Sundry links from around the Web:
- In honour of Leonard Cohen’s 75th birthday yesterday, 1 Heck of a Guy comes up with an incomplete list of Cohen’s many nicknames. Quillblog favourites: #22: Master of the Egg Salad Sandwich and #60: Poet of Swinging Suicides
- A 700-plus page “utopian fantasy” starring superheroes Bill Cosby and Yoko Ono? Yes, it’s Ralph Nader’s “quirky fiction debut”
- Can’t get enough of Dan Brown mania? Here are 10 titles to tide you over after The Last Symbol tsunami
- Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Giving Tree? EW‘s Shelf Life picks classic children’s books they’d like to see given the Hollywood treatment
- Margaret Atwood tells The New York Times why she scares herself
- Despite previous concerns, the Philadelphia Free Library System is NOT shutting down
To finish off Dan Brown Week – doesn’t have quite the ring of Shark Week does it? – here’s a roundup of some Lost Symbol brouhaha for your reading (dis?)pleasure.
CBC pop culture columnist Sarah Liss reads The Lost Symbol in a single twelve-hour sitting:
Sometimes, Dan Brown, loosely adapting Anthropology 101 texts for fiction just doesn’t work. Also, why do I get the sense you’ve never been tattooed – or met a gender-variant person? Also: “transgendering” is not a verb.
The National Post blog gives us a quote-fest of big names talking about Dan Brown’s success, including this one from Salman Rushdie:
“Do not start me on The Da Vinci Code, a novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name.”
Guardian blogger Jean Hannah Edelstein confesses that she doesn’t hate Dan Brown – she feels empathy:
I would thus be willing to wager all of the income I have ever made from writing fiction (nothing, but the sentiment is there) that sometimes, even as he wallows in his piles of money, Dan Brown wonders why he’ll never be able to write exactly as well as he wishes he could; why while being one of the world’s most financially successful writers, literary acclaim eludes him; why no one ever says, “actually, there’s a sentence on page 344 when Langdon says something rather profound and eloquent”. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we just cannot help the way that we write, and sometimes, it is just a bit crap.
Might our communal antipathy towards Brown in fact be a displacement of the energy that fuels the oft-unspoken but pervasive anxiety that the even attainment of longed-for commercial success is no guarantee that we are actually any good at writing? And yet would we keep writing at all if we didn’t still have a shred of hope, deep down, that it might be possible that we might be brilliant? We are all Dan Brown. Except for the staggering wealth.
Sundry links from around the Web:
- Did Ingram accidentally leak the next Oprah book club pick? (By the way, it’s Uwem Akpan’s short story collection Say You’re One of Them)
- Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol sells 1 million copies in a day – but what’s really impressive is that the Kindle edition is outselling the print version on Amazon
- Espresso Book Machine lands a lucrative contract to print Google’s public domain books
- HuffPo partners with The New York Review of Books
- Australian ministers debate the (de)merits of parallel importation (it’s more interesting than it sounds, at least if you’re an Australian publisher fearing the market for domestic books could be decimated)