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Fall's bounty of books

Publishers are pushing out a crowd of star authors this season in a race to prop up sales.

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Dan Brown ('The Lost Symbol').

Newscom

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Novelist Lisa See could be spending her September basking in the glow of three months on The New York Times bestseller list, but she has her eyes on another prize: keeping the competition at bay through Christmas.

Ms. See is stepping up her phone interviews to book clubs and participating in more online chats about "Shanghai Girls," her well-reviewed novel about two Chinese sisters who leave for America in the 1930s. It's all part of her "grass-roots" mission to make sure her book "doesn't fall off into the abyss" during the biggest sales season of the year.

It will be hard work, but See has one solace: At least her book has been on store shelves for a while. "I'm so glad I don't have a book coming out right around Dan Brown," she says.

But plenty of other big names have new novels in competition with Mr. Brown's near-guaranteed blockbuster, another sequel to "The Da Vinci Code." And therein lies the rub about this year's fall season in books: It's chock-full of star authors, a bounty that could pull the publishing industry out of its doldrums or leave few winners and many losers.

In addition to Brown, well-known novelists with new books on store shelves this fall include the late Michael Crichton, E.L. Doctorow, Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Thomas Pynchon, Richard Russo, and many more.

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