Cover Stories: The Da Vinci Code; Whitbread; the beautiful game

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The Independent Culture

If you're not one of the 10 million souls who have bought The Da Vinci Code, its UK publisher, Transworld, wants to know why. Perhaps the film starring Tom Hanks, due in May, will improve on the book, but Transworld is determined we will all read it first. Its new ads ("If you haven't read Dan Brown, where have you been?") are as subtle as the novel, showing a raft, a periscope and a spaceship. But there's a good chance the film will be delayed by the case brought by Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent, authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, whose thesis appears to have been borrowed by Brown. Due in the High Court next month, the case pits one part of Random House against another. Should they win, it puts Brown, his books (with The Solomon Key expected) and a movie blockbuster in a very interesting position.

* Hot topic at the Whitbread award dinner was not so much Hilary Spurling's by-a-whisker triumph with Matisse the Master as the future of the prize itself. Whitbread bows out now after 35 years, amid high-level hints that a new sponsor is in the bag. Whoever it is will need around £300,000 a year for the whole show.

* For anyone who doesn't enjoy the "beautiful game", the coming months will be a trial, with the World Cup coinciding with the 40th anniversary of England's win. Among the books due is one that Headline has nicknamed "grassy ends", because its endpapers will be made from authentic Wembley turf. World Champions, by Geoff Hurst, is an illustrated account with memories from the likes of Terry Wogan and Lulu. The company bought the turf five years ago, with this project in mind.

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