His new work, which is due out on September 15, has a print run of 6.5 million, one of the largest orders in the history of publishing, but Knopf Doubleday, the author’s US publisher, has announced that an electronic version will also be issued on the same day.
This will enable the book to be downloaded and read on computers or specialist devices such as the Sony Reader. These are already available in Britain and the Kindle ebook and Apple Tablet will add to the choice once they go on sale in this country.
It is thought Brown’s new book – to be published in Britain by Random House – could prove a turning point for the popularity of such machines.
Joel Rickett, editorial director of Penguin’s Viking Books, told The Observer newspaper: “The ebook is very quickly becoming a publishing reality and The Lost Symbol will be one of the fastest-selling books of recent times.
“Once people can flip between books, look up references online and switch to an audio reading, everything will change very quickly.”
He added: “Even more than J K Rowling’s Harry Potter titles, Dan Brown has shown that a book can become genuinely mass market and this helped keep supermarkets’ interest and helped publishers develop their methods, especially online.
“The Da Vinci Code kept changing what was expected of the readership. People would think everyone who was ever going to buy that book had already bought it and then, the next week, 20,000 more would sell and another 30,000 after that.”
He added that the quality of specialist ebook readers was a key factor. “Apple have huge knack of coming up with gadgets that are nice to use, as well as effective. So far, there is nothing that is as pleasurable as reading print. Part of it will be the way it works and part will be the way it looks,” Mr Rickett said.
However Karolina Sutton, a literary agent, pointed out a disadvantage of computer books compared to their paper rivals.
“Like any new technology it has its limitations. It’s not fun to run out of power as the protagonist is about to reveal a deadly secret.”