09 May 2007

Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code, 2003

One of those books that is so popular that you get emails from people in prison wanting it. Fairly readily available so not frenetically sought after but a remarkable phenomenom, and one worthy of consideration. This is a rejig of an entry from December 2006 showing a 25% fall in price. Supply and demand-- there are just too many out there. However signed copies have increased in value, probably by the same amount, possibly because there are a finite number around and the author isn't doing signing sessions.

Dan Brown. THE DA VINCI CODE. Doubleday, NY 2003. ISBN 0385504209

Current Price $250-$550 / £130-£280

Astounding best seller - so successful it inspired workshops, seminars and, for a time, revived the European tourist industry. There is a point on the book - you want a jacket price of $24.95 and on page 243 scotoma should be misspelled skitoma. Also you need the 'First Edition' statement and the complete number line of 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 listed on the copyright page. One suspects the print run was pretty high, this was DB's fourth book and he was already doing well. (Doubleday say it was 260,000--dealers holding copies cast indignant doubt on this figure.) Such bestsellers never become hard to find-- take a bestseller like 'All Quiet on the Western Front' 80 years later there are still plenty about in jacket and they only did 100,000 of that one.

VALUE? 12/06. Fine copies can be had for less than $500, sometimes even signed. There are copies on the net proclaiming the first edition price will rise when the Tom Hanks movie comes out - i.e. they have been there a while. Some dealers asking $4000 for the same copies people are asking $500 for. Slightly weird; it may be a decade or 2 before the book is in any way uncommon. Oddly enough the really, really dear copies are tipped as investments. And they are 'pristine'.

For a guy who is probably worth more than Yoko Ono, Dan Brown seems quite approachable-- signed copies abound (however see above.) A decent signed copy made $289 last week at ebay, the seller stated that Brown would sign no more 'for security reasons.' On the other hand back in June 2006 a copy on ebay made $5825.28 - it was signed by the film's cast, crew and Dan Brown. Provenance is pretty important. A copy signed only by Hanks made £2250 but was being sold for charity. Bless.

VALUE? STOP PRESS. May 2007. Fine copies in the jacket (also fine) can now easily be had at ABE for $260, the cheapest signed are at around $800. On good days at ebay somewhat less than these prices. There are still sea green optimists holding out for $4000 with increasingly desperate blandishments. The book is, of course, 'smoke free' (a now common requirement) and 'absolutely flawless' and 'protected by clear archival Brodart' and 'carefully packed in a box.' Copies are even offered with a 'Lifetime Guarantee' whatever that means- perhaps you can get the book serviced every four years. One copy is proclaimed as the years best seller indicating it has been there 4 years. One recent entry, possibly having a laugh, puffs the book as 'increasingly rare.'

For $4000 you could buy all Brown's novels, all immaculate and smoke free and all signed and expect at least $1500 change. Digital Fortress, his first novel, goes for circa $400 fine/ fine, Angels and Demons, the book that introduces the charismatic Harvard prof Robert Langdon $400. His other novel 'Deception Point' (2001) can be had for $50. Double for signed copies (on the page--signed bookplates are best avoided entirely) except with a first of 'Deception', where you might have to spend several hundred.

His first two books, humorous paperbacks, can be had for $20 each as true firsts although a few chancers want 10 times that. They are '187 Men to Avoid: A Survival Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman' (1995) co-written with his wife under the pseudonym Danielle Brown and 'The Bald Book' 1998, co-written with his wife under the name Blythe Brown.

As to Dan Brown the writer, his peers have been slightly sniffy, an article at Slate reckons his finest piece of writing was his 69-page witness statement filed with the British courts in 2006 when he was being sued for copyright infringement by the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Certainly he is no Nabokov, even Ian Mcewan and possibly Louis de Bernieres can turn out better prose - but when it comes to writing for dollars he defers only to J K Rowling and Stephen King. [ W/Q *** ]

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