Five Hundred Thirty-Nine

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.

6 thoughts on “Five Hundred Thirty-Nine

  1. Never read Patterson and certainly won’t now.

    Brown is good with a hook at the end of every chapter but, I agree, he’s not a good writer.

  2. Until you can show me a published work with your name under the title, at least Dan Brown can honestly say he’s better than you.

    I like Dan Brown. He’s not my favorite author or anything, probably never will be since he doesn’t write in my genre of choice, but I have read the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress.

    If I go out of my way to read more than one book by the same author, in my opinion, he’s good. If I go out of my way to track down everything they’ve ever written, then they are great.

    So, in my world, Dan Brown merits a good but not a great.

  3. I’m reading How I Became A Famous Novelist right now. It is pretty funny. I’m currently number 205 on the HoCo library waiting list for Lost Symbol.

  4. From the UK Telegraph website, Dan Brown’s 20 Worst Sentences, come two that I thought were pretty funny. More so, when you read the articles snarky comments:

    1. He could taste the familiar tang of museum air – an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon – the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.

    2. Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

    They actually picked 5 sentences from Da Vinci Code, chapter 4. Who knew Dan Brown could even write that many sentences in a single chapter!

    I read The Da Vinci Code and was angry throughout because I have this bit of OCD that won’t let me not finish a book I’ve started. It was torture and I vowed never to read another of his books.

    A few months later I was in an airport looking for a book, because I had forgotten mine. I had little time before my flight started, so I picked up a book that sounded like it had a decent premise. Some kind of meteorite was found under the ice in the Arctic. I buy it and start reading on the plane. Two pages in and it’s the end of the chapter. I immediately flip to the front cover and see the author is Dan Brown. “Motherfucker!”, I hissed. My wife asked me what was wrong and I told her I had bought another God damn Dan Brown book. She just chuckled.

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