Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol famously takes place over just 12 hours. It strikes me that the first 12 hours of the book’s publication could be just as eventful
15 September 12.01AM: Publication day! Dan Brown’s UK editor Bill Scott-Kerr is woken by a furious banging at his front-door. It’s the first writ, from a Solomon Kee of High Wycombe, who claims his name has been used without permission. “That was The Solomon Key you fool,” the bleary-eyed publisher tells him. “We changed the title.”
6.00AM: Amazon’s warehouse in Wales is picketed by Christian militants who believe Dan Brown is the devil in chinos. The ‘symbol’ of the title is the mark that Christ allegedly made in the stone that guarded his tomb after the Crucifiction. Sorry, that should read Crucifixion
7.00AM: The website www.rosicruciananorak.org uploads a line-by-line demolition of the book’s plot, plus a subscription offer for their newsletter The Nutter
8.00AM: KwikSave takes 75% off the cover price, selling the book for £4.75.
Transworld’s promotional chocolate ‘symbols’ go into Tesco. They are produced by Galaxy, with the slogan: ‘Unlock your tastebuds for the adventure of your life – with Galaxy and Dan Brown’
9.00 AM: KwikFit decides to stock the title – its first book ever. It also promises to give customers a new exhaust at the same time, all for a tenner
10.00 AM: Waterstone’s slashes its price to 50p, plus dinner with the “real life Robert Langdon”, who turns out to be an unpacker (the last in the company in fact) at the chain’s Bradford branch
11.00 AM: On the streets of Delhi, the first pirated copies appear. They’re rather good, having been produced on the Espresso PoD machine that went missing after the London Book Fair. The PA’s Simon Juden is flown to the scene
NOON: Borders announces a 25p cover price, ‘plus a free Da Vinci Code Tarot Pack as well as The Holy Grail for Dummies'
1.PM: Exasperated by all the crazy discounting, Patrick Neale of Jaffe & Neal tells the Bookseller: “It’s madness. We’re refusing to stock it.” A clutch of other indies follow suit, drafting the NBA – the No Brown Agreement
2.00 PM: The author lands at Stansted on Air Force One which President Obama has lent to Random House “because of Dan Brown’s importance to the US economy”. In thanks, Brown promises to include Bo, the Obamas’ Portuguese water poodle, in his next book, The Knights Templars go Walkies
3.PM: The author arrives at the studios of QVC for his interview on Richard & Judy’s new show. The book’s ISBN appears inside a giant crop circle in Wiltshire. Tony Mulliken of Midas, brought in to handle the launch, denies all knowledge
4.PM: Footage on YouTube is alleged to show Dan Brown copying parts of Discovering Ley Lines by Shire Publications. The title moves to Number two on Amazon
5.PM: Transworld orders the first reprint. Sainsbury’s cuts its price to £1.50. Asda offers the book for 1p with a year’s free groceries. Nielsen computers crash after attempting to calculate the amount of money given away