"This novel has been a strange and wonderful journey," Brown said in a statement issued Monday by his publisher. "Weaving five years of research into the story's twelve-hour time frame was an exhilarating challenge. Robert Langdon's life clearly moves a lot faster than mine."
The first printing will be 5 million copies, Knopf Doubleday said, the highest in the publisher's history but well below the opening 10 million-plus print run for the final "Harry Potter" book. "The Da Vinci Code" has sold more than 80 million worldwide and inspired a spin-off community of travel books, diet books, conspiracy books, parodies and religious works.
$700 million at the box office
A film version, starring Tom Hanks, came out in 2006 and made more than $700 million at the box office. Hanks will again be seen as Langdon when the adaptation of Brown's "Angels & Demons" debuts in May.
By Monday night, "The Lost Symbol" was No. 1 on Barnes & Noble.com and approaching the top 100 on Amazon.com. In a sign of likely price wars to come, both sites were offering discounts of 40 percent and higher for the $28.95 novel.
Brown, 44, had kept his readers and the struggling book industry in suspense as year after year passed without a new novel. As far back as 2004, Doubleday had hinted that a follow up was coming, tentatively titled "The Solomon Key" and widely believed to be about Freemasons in Washington, D.C. (Brown has been spotted over the years in Washington, researching Masonic temples.)
Anticipation for "The Solomon Key" was so high that a "guide" to the novel was published in 2005 and remains in print.