THE Lost Symbol, Dan Brown’s long-anticipated follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, is set to spark a buying frenzy, with stores tipping the new novel to smash sales records.
The thriller, which again features Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, hit the bookshelves yesterday with a global English language first print run of 6.5 million copies, the largest first print in the history of publisher Random House worldwide.
The massive launch has been hailed by some as the biggest publishing event since JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows two years ago.
Pre-orders of the novel have already made it Amazon.co.uk’s sixth biggest-selling book of 2009.
“This is undoubtedly the most anticipated release of 2009,” said Amy Worth, head of books buying at Amazon.co.uk.
“We are expecting a high demand for this title for many months to come and over the coming weeks, you will no doubt see readers in every coffee shop, on every bus and train, enjoying this latest instalment and unravelling the mysteries within.”
Meanwhile, Waterstone’s Piccadilly opened its doors two hours early at 7am to sell 200 special copies of The Lost Symbol — the only signed copies of the British edition available — on a strictly one-per-person basis.
A spokesman for Waterstone’s said: “The book is destined to become the biggest-selling adult fiction hardback of the decade.”
Waterstone’s Jon Howells became the first person in Britain outside of the publisher to read the book, accepting delivery of a copy late on Monday evening.
Conspiracy theory novel The Da Vinci Code was released in 2003 and saw Langdon investigate a murder in The Louvre museum in Paris.
The book sold more than 81 million copies worldwide and is Britain’s biggest selling paperback novel of all time.
The film adaptation starring Tom Hanks was a worldwide number one hit, as was Angels & Demons, the adaptation of the first of Brown’s thrillers featuring Langdon.
Sales of The Lost Symbol have already got off to a flying start, with the book being a fixture in Amazon.co.uk’s top 10 best-sellers chart since becoming available for pre-order in April.
The book seller said it has been number one for almost two weeks on pre-orders alone.
The Lost Symbol’s plotline has been painstakingly guarded ahead of its release.
Store deliveries arrived with strict guidelines stating boxes containing the book should not be opened until a minute past midnight yesterday morning.
Over the summer, Brown’s fans were allowed a sneak peek at the jacket for the new book, giving clues to the setting and themes.
The cover shows a key surrounded by flames and bearing a Freemasonry symbol above Washington’s Capitol Hill, pointing to America’s seat of power as the setting for the action.
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