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August 07, 2005
Unlocking the Dan Brown code
One surprise here: The Da Vinci Code was launched with a $500,000 television campaign. But it was backed by a massive napsterizing tactic:
Dan Brown's fourth novel was launched on March 18, 2003, backed by a $500,000 television campaign, unheard of in the book world. This built on several months of advance hype - an unprecedented 10,000 cheaply printed copies of the novel had been given to American booksellers by the end of 2002. Many of them met Dan Brown at dinners organised by TimeWarner, and Brown called hundreds of others to thank them for ordering his book.
Publishers Weekly estimated that the campaign cost Doubleday close to $US1 million ($A1.31 million), but within a week the book was No. 1 with a bullet. Although it took a year for the sales to build in Britain and Australia, where there was no special promotion, the momentum of America's mania for the book carried all before it.
My guess is that the $500,000 television ad buy was a safety valve/hedge tactic. After all, Time Warner sent 10,000 (10,000!) advance copies. The word of mouth alone on that certainly had to be very big, indeed.
The article also illustrates one of the book industry's glaring problems:
Film director Alan Parker, accustomed to Hollywood's marketing muscle, was openly aghast when he promoted his first novel in 2003. "It's rather shocking to see how they actually publish books, from a marketing point of view, which is in the dark ages," he said. "They kind of print the book, then they cross their fingers that people like yourself might write about it, and if you don't, it just stays on the shelf, but there's no budget for marketing."
Sad, but true.
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