Three Straits Times Press books in reprint

Sundays With Sumiko, a collection of columns written by Sumiko Tan, has sold about 4,500 copies.
Sundays With Sumiko, a collection of columns written by Sumiko Tan, has sold about 4,500 copies.PHOTO: ST FILE
Guilty As Charged (left) and Singapore Is Not An Island (right).
Guilty As Charged (left) and Singapore Is Not An Island (right).

True crime stories Guilty As Charged, essay collection Singapore Is Not An Island and a collection of personal columns, Sundays With Sumiko, are a hit with readers

Three Straits Times Press titles have entered second print runs within a month of their publication despite the moribund publishing market, with each selling close to or more than 5,000 copies in that time.

Guilty As Charged, a collection of 25 true crime tales that have shaken Singapore since 1965, has sold 5,200 copies.

The anthology, edited by The Straits Times associate news editor Abdul Hafiz Abdul Samad and put together by ST executive multimedia designer Sally Lam, was released in July and has already entered a third print run.

Singapore Is Not An Island by Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan, released in June, has sold about 4,700 copies. The book collects his essays and speeches on foreign policy and geopolitics.

Sundays With Sumiko, a collection of ST executive editor Sumiko Tan's Sunday columns on life, love and loss over the years, has sold about 4,500 copies. It was also released in June.

All three titles have spent at least 11 weeks on the ST weekly bestseller list for non-fiction, which collates the top 10 best-selling titles from MPH, Times, Books Kinokuniya and Popular bookstores.

Sundays With Sumiko has topped the list once while Guilty As Charged has topped it twice, beating major international bestsellers such as neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi's posthumous memoir When Breath Becomes Air and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg's account of bereavement, Option B.

Singapore Is Not An Island was on the list for 16 weeks.

Says ST Press general manager Susan Long: "This is significant, as it is a very difficult retail market currently."

She adds that a title is generally considered a bestseller in Singapore if it sells more than 1,000 copies.

The popularity of Guilty As Charged, which had its first incarnation as an ST e-book in 2015, was unexpected, says Ms Long.

"It showed print is not dead, not when it comes to racy crime stories. Law-abiding Singaporeans evidently enjoy the thrills of the crime genre and unraveling mysteries."

She adds: "The success of Singapore Is Not An Island, a well-curated compilation of essays on geopolitics by Bilahari Kausikan over the last 25 years, tapped on his huge maverick fan base, as well as his intellectual dispute with Kishore Mahbubani (dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore) on the role of small states."

As for her book, Ms Tan, 53, says the reception has come as a surprise, but that she has been encouraged by how warm and friendly readers have been.

"At the several book signings I've done, readers have been both men and women and from a wide range of age groups.

"Some have been reading me since their late teens and are now mothers themselves and a few said they want their children to read my columns too," she adds.

"Many readers have told me that they could see their own life experiences being relived in my columns. For example, the angst I'd felt during my single years reflected what some others were going through too, as well as my - I guess - delight at getting married. I also had quite a lot of comments that my style is easy-to-read and relatable."

The best-selling local non-fiction title this year has been Neither Civil Nor Servant, a biography of former Economic Development Board chairman Philip Yeo by Peh Shing Huei, a former ST China bureau chief and news editor.

Published in November last year by ST Press, it has sold more than 18,000 copies and spent 48 weeks on the bestseller list, topping it 10 times.

A fresh ST Press title, Market Smart: How To Grow Your Wealth In An Uncertain World by financial journalist Goh Eng Yeow, entered its second print run even before its launch earlier this month and made its debut on the bestseller list on Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Three Straits Times Press books in reprint'. Print Edition | Subscribe