May 15, 2013

Dan Brown causes price wars, bookshops party like it’s 1999


Dan Brown’s new look

There are loads of things we predicted the new Dan Brown novel would bring: clumsy, soul-destroying prose, translators cast into working conditions resembling the pits of hell, Tom Hanks looking perplexed on a film tie-in front cover.

But there was something else. Something we couldn’t ignore. Dan Brown looked a little different. His hair was parted in a curtain style last seen on members of boy bands such as Boyzone and the Backstreet Boys. And it wasn’t just that. Reports came in that Dan Brown, usually known by his pared back style of blazer, shirt and tie, was seen wearing denim dungarees and carrying a Tamagotchi round his neck. An unidentified source ‘close to the author’ admitted they’d seen a Gameboy fall out of his pocket.

And then, finally, we received the news that confirmed our suspicions. The London Evening Standard reported that booksellers across the United Kingdom are preparing for the publication of Inferno with price wars not seen since the 90s. Yes, that’s right. Dan Brown’s back and he’s brought the 90s and rock-bottom book price wars with him! Cheap books! Independent booksellers getting ripped off! It’s time to party like it’s 1999!

Inferno’s suggested retail price is £20, but with booksellers, chain stores, supermarkets and Amazon scrabbling to sell it to you for the cheapest price, you’re guaranteed to pay less and even have change left over to buy that new Spice Girls single on CD! It’s the 90s remember, no one buys tapes anymore! Here’s our guide to knowing which kind of nineties reader you are.


Love hanging out in your velvet t-shirts and cargo pants, watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch and wondering which member of All Saints you most resemble? Are you just a sensitive soul, who likes to spend time in bookshops listening to Kurt Cobain on your cassette player and not having to talk to anyone?

PRICE WAR SHOP FOR YOU: Foyles! You’ll pay £14.60 for a copy of Inferno, a saving of £5.40. And you get a free bookmark which reads ‘DON’T SEE RED PRE-ORDER DAN BROWN’, which you can stick to your pin board, ironically.


Are you someone who likes all the stuff that everyone else likes? Your favourite Spice Girl is Baby Spice and OK, you like Nick from the Backstreet Boys best of all too. You feel safe in the popular stuff everyone has: Baby-Gs and Sketchers shoes.

PRICE WAR SHOP FOR YOU: Waterstones! It’s the 90s and Waterstones is booming. Everyone buys books from Waterstones. They’re so successful that they can afford to sell Inferno for 50% off, at £10. Soon, they’ll introduce 3 for 2, just another way to undervalue books!


Always got a Pokémon card in your hand? Always upending the cereal box to get the free plastic toy before anyone else? Going to go to the supermarket anyway to pick up these things and some Nerds sweets?

PRICE WAR SHOP FOR YOU: Tesco and Asda! Both of these stores will sell you Inferno for £9. Considering the book actually costs £20,that means you’re saving more than you’re spending. It’s like Pikachu rained its high happiness special power all over you.


Do you love anything new? Are you always watching Power Rangers and being amazed by the modern weaponry at their fingertips? Are you anxious for the year 2000, a new dawn that will usher in something called the World Wide Web?

PRICE WAR SHOP FOR YOU: Amazon! Ereaders haven’t been invented yet but when they are you’ll be ecstatic to remember you only spent £7.50 on the Kindle edition of Inferno. This kind of unbelievably low price for a book seems like extraordinary progress in bookselling, but ten years from now when all the bookshops are closing down and publishers are laying people off all over town, you’re going to start to wonder if this online rainforest was such a good idea.

Independent bookshops are being offered 60 per cent off Dan Brown’s backlist when they buy Inferno, but as they argue it’s crazy that it’s currently cheaper for them to buy the book from a supermarket that direct from the publisher.

Inferno is not available at Woolworths.




Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.