The Frankfurt Book Fair has an unusual indicator to help publishers gauge public interest in the new literary offerings presented at the annual exhibition. It's the unofficial "most stolen book" index.
German tabloid Bild am Sonntag and Germany's ZDF Television have put together a list of titles stolen most often from the stands of 15 leading German publishers at this year's book fair, which closed its doors last Sunday.
"It's amazing. People steal books whenever they can. You hardly put a bunch out there, and one hour later, they're all gone," says Gregor Moeller, marketing expert, who represents the German Luebbe Publishing House. "This has been my 25th year at the Frankfurt Book Fair; I wouldn't know it any different."
Asked by ABC News whether one of Luebbe's most prominent authors, U.S. writer Dan Brown, was among the authors with the "most-stolen" books, Moeller said, "You bet he is. We just printed 600,000 paperback editions of his recent "Diabolus," and we took plenty of extras to the Frankfurt Book Fair, but we could hardly manage to keep up the supplies. It's as if people have been waiting for those paperback editions to appear on the stand, so they could steal them."
Dan Brown's "Diabolus" already is No. 2 on the best-seller list of Germany's Der Spiegel this week.
Another author who was featured at this year's show is German Julia Frank, winner of the German Book Prize 2007. A spokesperson for her publisher told ABC News that "it's only going ... a matter of another week or two before Julia's book tops the best-seller list here in Germany."
Why so confident? According to spokesperson Petra Baumann-Zink, the book was the most-stolen work at the publisher's stands at this year's fair. "I guarantee you this will be mirrored in her selling figures. She's going to make it from No. 17 on the best-seller list all the way up to No. 2, and hopefully to No. 1 before too long," she said.
The German translation of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," outlining the dangers of global warming, also figures prominently, coming in at No. 7 on the most-stolen book list.
More than 100,000 people attended the book fair this year. There were 7,448 exhibitions, where publishers from 108 countries presented some 400,000 books, videos and other products.
"We don't know how many books were stolen altogether," a marketing expert for German publisher Luebbe told ABC News. "But it is fair to say that thousands of books are stolen every year. And, of course, people only steal interesting books, so those books most stolen are likely to be the ones ending up on the best-seller lists."