Some guy had the brilliant idea to hide the book behind his back, “Guess what I’m buying?”*
I guessed Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol, and I was right. It wasn’t a giant intellectual leap — Monday night, after closing our overnight crew had put out our entire stock, nine hundred and six copies of the book, distributed to the front of the store and into section. By the time we closed on Tuesday, we’d sold five hundred and thirty-nine.
I have two reactions to this.
The first reaction is: you know he’s not a good writer, right?
The second reaction is: I wish I was Dan Brown.
Then I realized I was having a third reaction: I kind of want to read this book. I mean, I read both Angels and Demons and The Davinci Code. And they were interesting enough — I’m not going to say they were great, but they were both fun enough, and I read them straight through. I’ve been giving Dan Brown a hard time lately — we had an ABC crew filming a story on the book at our store Monday night, and for discretionary reasons, I avoided an interview — but I think I need to save my loathing for another “author”: James Patterson.
If you don’t know who James Patterson is, congratulations. If you do? So sorry, hope you didn’t waste money on any of his font-twenty, triple-spaced books, which are “farmed” out to other authors, who write the book and then get Patterson to stamp his name on them. Instant best sellers. God damn, I wish I was James Patterson, too.
Which remind me: How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely is a fantastic book that you should read because it pokes a lot of fun at the book industry.
I was accosted by a customer at one point during the night, demanding to know why we didn’t have any copies in paperback of Lost Symbol. I was tempted to explain to her that publishers usually don’t print titles in both paperback and hardback at the same time — because people will usually go for the cheaper edition — but I had a brainstorm, told her to wait a moment, and ran down to our Large Print section, where I grabbed a copy of the book. Large Print books are usually published in paperback, and Lost Symbol was no exception. Of course, because it’s Large Print, all the words are really large. Plus, it’s got seven hundred fifty some pages compared to the five thirty in the regular edition. She of course was all: “Why is the print so large? Why is it so thick? It looks like my toddler was playing with the font settings on the computer…”
*It was cute the first time, but then the next guy pulled the same stunt, and I promised myself that the next person to ask me to guess what they were buying was going to be told, “Um, Introduction to Anal Sex for Women?” Thankfully, the person saw the expression on my face, and just handed me the book, which was actually the Ted Kennedy memoir.