When the memoir of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok first came out last November, its publisher hoped to sell 4,000 copies.
It has since far exceeded expectations by selling 10 times that, and counting. The sleeper hit, in which the notoriously media-shy 94-year-old opens up to American journalist Andrew Tanzer about his life, has sold 40,000 copies and is now gunning for a fourth print run.
The book has spent six weeks so far on The Straits Times weekly bestseller list for non-fiction, compiled from Books Kinokuniya, Times and Popular bookstores.
In the difficult retail market of Singapore, a book is usually considered a bestseller if it sells more than 1,000 copies. At one point, Robert Kuok: A Memoir sold more than 1,000 copies a week.
The 376-page tell-all memoir details Mr Kuok's rise from a broken family in Johor Baru to become Malaysia's richest man and more.
Its popularity stunned local publisher Goh Eck Kheng, who helms Landmark Books. "The initial response from the regional book trade when we first promoted the book was not extraordinary," he says.
So unprepared was it for the surge in demand that the book was out of stock for four weeks before Christmas last year. Booksellers came under pressure from customers anxious to get their hands on the title, while Landmark tried to find a printer with enough paper for the unusually large print run.
• Robert Kuok: A Memoir by Robert Kuok and Andrew Tanzer ($49.90) is available from major bookstores.
"Bookshops here reported brisk sales from Malaysian and Hong Kong visitors because the book was also sold out in those territories," says Mr Goh, 62. "Indonesian visitors continue to snap up copies as the book is not yet widely available in Indonesia."
Tanzer, 60, a former Forbes reporter who interviewed Mr Kuok extensively and crafted the book with his input, says he is not surprised by its popularity.
"Robert Kuok is truly a unique figure in Asian business circles whose life encompasses most of the 20th century and the early 21st century," he says. "He's lived a fascinating life through very interesting times in Asia and he tells his story and the related history of the economic and political development of Asia very well.
"There are plenty of lessons in the memoirs for aspiring entrepreneurs and businessmen, but the book is about much more than just management and business."
The book is now available in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It will be released in Britain and Australia in late March, and in the United States in June.