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Published: Friday, 5/19/2006

'Code' unlocks readers' curiosity

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
In Borders at Franklin Park, Kira Parse peruses the display of titles relating to the Dan Brown bestseller. In Borders at Franklin Park, Kira Parse peruses the display of titles relating to the Dan Brown bestseller.
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More than 45 million copies of The Da Vinci Code have been sold, but that's not the reason booksellers are smiling as the movie version of the controversial hit opens today.

Instead, they're anticipating continuing strong sales of the dozens of books that are related to the publishing phenomenon, whether disputing the main themes in the book or offering more details about the time period in which the Dan Brown-penned thriller is set.

"The Da Vinci Code is one of the few books that has ever had this kind of impact on so many other types of books," said Beth Bingham, a spokesman for Borders Books in Ann Arbor.

Stores in the chain, including one at Westfield Franklin Park in Toledo, have displays of up to 50 titles, including Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code: On the Trail of the Bestselling Novel, which describes places for travelers to visit to see the locations mentioned in the book.

"It's really amazing. The Da Vinci Code has created interest in so many areas," Ms. Bingham said.

Since the novel's first printing three years ago, Dennis Fennell, owner of Fireside Books in the Toledo suburb of Holland, said, he has had a steady stream of customers seeking other novels like it or nonfiction that delved further into the book's main themes.

He's directed them to novels published a dozen years ago, like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, to newer books that talk about the area in the south of France where some of the book is set, to the history of the Knights Templar, to books about Mary Magdalene.

"People just seem to be hungry for knowledge," Mr. Fennell said.

One of the major points of the novel - that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and that their marriage was covered up by prominent conspirators like painter Leonardo Da Vinci - so angered a top Vatican official that he called for Catholics to boycott the movie.

Those issues have given rise to a number of books that specifically attempt to sort out what's true and what's not, such as The Da Vinci Deception: 100 Questions and Answers About the Facts and Fiction of The Da Vinci Code.

"We have an entire feature wall of books disputing what was in the book, pointing out that The Da Vinci Code should be taken [only] for its fiction and entertainment quality," said Mike Hoffman, sales associate at Lifeway Christian Stores in Toledo.

"We've definitely seen an increase in interest about The Da Vinci Code from people searching for answers, especially because there's a lot of stuff to dispute in the book," he said.

The continuing hunger has surprised Rick Clayton, manager of the Books A Million store in Perrysburg.

He said he remembers wondering how well the paperback versions would do when they came out in late March because he thought everyone had read the book. But sales have been strong, and books "are flying off the shelves" if they have themes similar to the ones in Mr. Brown's book, including information about knights and Leonardo Da Vinci, Mr. Clayton said.

Carolyn Brown, a spokesman for Barnes & Noble Inc., said the chain has sold 2.5 million copies of the hardcover version of The Da Vinci Code but didn't know how many books with similar themes have been sold.

"People just want to read more about the things discussed in the book," she said. "The excitement is still there."

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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