If the mind-over-matter science on display in his newest novel is to be believed, Dan Brown must be thinking really hard about selling books. Over two million copies of The Lost Symbol flew off bookshelves in the first week alone, and it looks like the rising tide is lifting some other boats with it.
Only a couple days after Symbol’s release, Barnes & Noble told Entertainment Weekly that it was already seeing “a lift in sales of books about Freemasonry and secret societies, followed closely by those about early Christianity (Gnostic Gospels).” And now also basking in the reflected glory is The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart, which Brown name-checks (website and all) early on in his novel. According to figures from Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of all U.S. book sales, McTaggart’s self-help work sold 402 copies in the week ending Sept. 27, compared to 227 copies for the week ending Sept. 20. That’s a 77 percent increase! The boost came as a surprise to publisher Martha Levin, who said she only found out about the shout-out when one of her colleagues who was reading Symbol called to tell her the news.
The Intention Experiment is a book about noetic science, a field of metaphysics that champions the power of human thought to affect the external world. Mostly low-key stuff, like influencing the formation of ice crystals or encouraging plant growth. No Scanners-like head explosions just yet. Brown discusses the quasi-science extensively in Symbol.
Brown’s previous blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, provided a similar lift to books on the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar. It also slipped in an in-text reference to Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh’s 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, partially anagramming the authors’ surnames to christen the novel’s villain, Leigh Teabing. Unfortunately, that honor did not stop the writers from suing Brown for copyright infringement, a case they eventually lost.
Levin, on the other hand, is grateful for the recognition. “We’re thrilled,” she said, “I mean, what fun!”