Sales boom for 'Da Vinci Code' court case authors

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The writers suing The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown for plagiarism have already emerged winners: their book is now flying off the shelves.

Fascination with the court case has fuelled a craze among readers for The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, the book at the centre of the case which is said to be the basis for Brown's best-seller. Its writers, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, have witnessed up to a 10-fold rise in sales in the days since the case began last week.

One luxury version of the book - an illustrated edition costing £20 - saw its sales rocket by 3,500 per cent on Amazon in the 24 hours after the case began. By midweek, Waterstone's had seen a boost of 620 per cent for Holy Blood on the previous week's figure.

After years of modest sales, Brown's blockbuster has already turned Holy Blood into a money-spinner with fans reading up on the book's central conspiracy theory. The paperback was selling an average of around 3,500 copies a year prior to publication of The Da Vinci Code. But that figure quadrupled in 2004 in the wake of Brown's success - then doubled again to 31,341 sales in 2005.

In the run-up to the case, Holy Blood was still shifting in the region of 500 copies a week. On the first day of last week's court case, sales eclipsed that, selling up to 1,000 copies.

Cathy Waterhouse, senior bookseller for the Oxford Street, London, branch of Waterstone's, said: "The court case seems to have sparked a huge amount of interest in both books. One of the most amazing things abut The Da Vinci Code is that surely you would think everyone must own it by now, but it still keeps flying off the shelves."

Leigh and Baigent brought their action for breach of copyright against publisher Random House - which also publishes their book - claiming Brown stole the ideas for his story from their investigation, which was published in 1982.

But the publisher's QC, John Baldwin, rebutted their claim in court last week, saying there could be no copyright in an idea - and said some of their theories had originated before the publication of their book. The judge adjourned the case on Wednesday to allow him to read the works.