By Motoko Rich
Published, New York Times, September 7, 2009
On Tuesday the “Today” program begins a weeklong countdown to publication, with the host Matt Lauer divulging clues to various locations featured in the book. Mr. Lauer, one of only a handful of people who have been allowed to read “The Lost Symbol” in advance — and only after he signed an agreement not to reveal what’s in it, the publisher said — will interview Mr. Brown in a segment to be broadcast next Tuesday.
Last week Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, posted a breathless memo to customers on the Amazon.com home page, informing them that the company was taking “one of the most anticipated publishing events of all time” very seriously. “We’ve agreed to keep our stockpile under 24-hour guard in its own chain-link enclosure, with two locks requiring two separate people for entry,” Mr. Bezos wrote.
Booksellers are hoping for a much-needed surge of traffic in a week with the release of not only “The Lost Symbol” but also two other much anticipated titles. Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s memoir, “True Compass,” comes out on Monday (first print run: 1.5 million copies), and Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory,” a biography of the former National Football League star Pat Tillman, who volunteered for combat and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, is being published on Tuesday (first print run: 500,000 copies).
“I think it’s going to be a great week for bookselling,” said Kathryn Popoff, vice president for the trade division at Borders Group, noting that Oprah Winfrey was also expected to announce her next book selection on Friday. Ms. Popoff acknowledged that dedicated Dan Brown fans might leave the bookstore with just one title in hand, “but our goal is with our merchandising and display to encourage people to buy another book while they’re in the stores.”
Blogs and Twitter accounts have been buzzing for months with speculation about the plot and secrets of “The Lost Symbol.” Mr. Brown, who was originally expected to deliver his follow-up to “The Da Vinci Code” in 2005, has provided a few hints: Robert Langdon is the protagonist again; it is set in Washington; the action takes place over the course of 12 hours; it features a deep look into the Masons.