'Da Vinci' Still A Winner

Dan Brown, author of 'The Da Vinci Code', leaves The Royal Courts of Justice in London, Tuesday, March 14, 2006
"The Da Vinci Code" is a smash hit in paperback, too.

More than 500,000 copies of Dan Brown's historical thriller sold in its first week of paperback release, and an initial printing of 5 million has been upped to 6 million, publisher Anchor Books told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Russell Perreault, vice president and director of publicity for Anchor and Vintage Books, paperback imprints of Random House, Inc., said the weekly sales were the highest in memory for a paperback. Anchor/Vintage has issued Bill Clinton's "My Life" and numerous Oprah Winfrey picks, including James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" and Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance."

Anchor has given the book unusually aggressive promotion for a paperback, selling it everywhere from gas stations to military bases. Laurence J. Kirshbaum, the longtime head of the Time Warner Book Group and now a literary agent, said "Jaws" in the 1970s might have been the last paperback so in demand.

"Unborn babies must be reading `Da Vinci,"' Kirshbaum said. "Who else on this planet is left?"

Brown's book has already sold more than 40 million copies worldwide in hardcover and continues to sell well three years after publication, helped in part by an endless series of controversies, most recently a copyright lawsuit in London.

A decision is expected Friday on the claim by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh that Brown's book "appropriated the architecture" of their 1982 nonfiction work, "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail," a best seller thanks in large part to the "Da Vinci" boom.

The "Da Vinci" paperback came out March 28, not because interest in the hardcover had slowed down, but in anticipation of the May 19 film version, starring Tom Hanks.

"We expect `Da Vinci' sales to continue to grow through the release of the movie next month," Borders spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.

"In addition, the Da Vinci-like titles are doing very well. Books like `Secret Supper,' `The Last Templar,' `The Templar Legacy' and `Labyrinth' are all very popular right now."