Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Symbol All is Not Lost?

Seems ol' Dan Brown can take a deep breath now - his publisher may not be asking for that obscene advance back after all. The Lost Symbol posted sales of about two million print copies in the first few weeks, and may have boosted other books along with it.

Personally, I was surprised that the reviews on the book were not as horrible as I expected. I felt Da Vinci Code was a page-turner, but not great literature. Awaiting scathing reviews, I was a bit disappointed. Then I cracked the code!

Publishing has been in such a downslide that really bad reviews could have meant several forests had died in vain - the book had a supposed five million press run; which frequently is an inflated figure designed to convey the importance of a title, but still!

Obviously it might be a bit much to expect reviews to kill a title; sometimes public opinion runs counter to any expert assessment, but I truly think the industry didn't want to take any chances. Journals assigned 'softball' reviewers to the title, ones that would give it a positive spin, thereby helping sales in whatever way they could. I don't mean to imply these places were paid off by the publishers, but rather did it to help the industry overall. (One reviewer went so far as to list some faults, then quickly dismiss them as the 'book's guilty pleasures'.)

Most reviews I read seemed to stress the adventure aspect as worth any literary shortcomings and were anxious to acknowledge their opinion wouldn't mean anything, the book would sell anyway, no matter what.

I love books, and I hope publishing rebounds from the recession renewed and ready to reach new heights. I wish they'd stop throwing money at illiterates with soapboxes and publish some of my incisive work, but that's another story.

I certainly do plan on reading Lost Symbol so I can reach my own conclusions. It's just that there's a lot of drug-addled celebrities competing for my attention.

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