By Leong Wee Keat, TODAY | Posted: 11 January 2010 0856 hrs
And while Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times is being withheld from sale in Malaysia, pending a review by Malaysia's Home Ministry, it has sold out in several Singapore bookshops since its launch last month.
Over 600 copies of the 363-page hardcover have flown off the shelves of major bookstores, making it to the best-seller list for some of them.
At Times bookstores, the book has been the chain's second best non-fiction seller since its launch.
"We have currently sold more than 100 copies," said its spokesman last Thursday.
The book's author, former Asian Wall Street Journal editor Barry Wain said that there were "strong pre-release orders placed by local bookshops" ahead of the December 4 release date.
At one stage, he added, additional copies of the book had to be sent to Singapore by courier from the United Kingdom to meet Christmas orders. The book sells for S$49.90 at most bookstores.
Only two stores had copies; one sold its final copy which was for display, while another had eight left. The other stores said their copies had sold out and that they had fielded numerous inquiries from customers.
The publisher, UK-based Palgrave Macmillan, is now printing its third run of the book in Asia.
"Most copies of the book sold in Singapore are being bought by Singaporeans, for whom Dr Mahathir remains a fascinating and little-understood leader," said Mr Wain, a writer-in-residence at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
"At the same time, anecdotal evidence indicates there has been a steady flow of books to Malaysia, where Malaysian Maverick is not yet available."
On Friday, The Malay Mail quoted a source as saying that Malaysia's Home Ministry has recommended that the book be banned because of content "that was not only erroneous but also damaging to" Dr Mahathir.
The allegations had led to a call by opposition MP Lim Kit Siang for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter.
On his blog, Dr Mahathir welcomed suggestions by his detractors to set up an inquiry, but he also said that he reserved the right to sue Mr Wain and others who had cast aspersions on him.
Mr Wain has countered that feedback from individuals have been overwhelming.
"People I hardly know contact me to say how much they enjoyed the book. I'm particularly gratified they think it's accurate, fair and well-written, qualities I value highly," he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected the call to investigate Dr Mahathir for allegedly squandering Malaysia's wealth, saying there cannot be a royal commission for every single complaint.
The Malaysian government said it will decide by January 18, after a 60-day review, if it will allow the book to be sold in the country.
"Naturally, I hope Malaysia will clear Malaysian Maverick for sale and not remain the only country where the book is restricted," said Mr Wain.