Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Another hoax

Publishers are considering finally publishing "The DaVinci Code" in paperback. No doubt this will please the people I used to deal with a couple years ago when I worked as a simple sales clerk at a Borders. They'd come up and ask for the book, and when I pointed to the huge stack of hardbacks, some people would ask for the paperback. I'd say it wasn't out in paperback yet, and they'd whine, "Why not?"

I ran out, really fast, of polite ways to say "Because the publisher makes more money from the hardback, and as long as people like you are coming into the bookstore asking for the book, the publisher is betting that you'll be curious enough to buy the hardback no matter how much it costs." You'd be amazed at how many people found that a difficult concept. The whole exchange, which was repeated at least once a week, got old really fast.

"The DaVinci Code" is, of course, merely a fictionalized version of a long-running myth, or hoax if you look at it that way, about the period between the first century and modern times. I think I know why this unpromising topic proved to be so popular. Most of the book's readers take the Bible at face value; the period between about 50 AD, as documented in the New Testament, and let's say the Declaration of Independence 17 centuries later, is nothing but a black hole to them. You could write just about anything about that period and most Americans would swallow it. Secret societies? "Gnosticism" (whatever that means to people)? Jesus and Mary M. having a hot "Bridges of Madison County"-type relationship? Sure, why not?! Sounds like Shogun to me!

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