To date, the publisher has sold about 20,000 copies of the book worldwide since its release late last year. The bulk of sales were in Singapore, and recently Malaysia, where the title finally received government approval on 22 April.
Some 4,200 copies have since been sold here while 3,000 advanced bookings have been placed. Another 7,000 copies are in print, of which 5,000 will be on Malaysian bookshelves next week, Steve Maginn, executive director of Macmillan East Asia, told The Nut Graph on 11 May.
Wain (Courtesy of Barry Wain)“Before the end of May, we expect to sell some 9,000 copies, which would be tremendous. The controversy has helped, but we didn’t publish the book in order to be controversial.
“It was just important to have an English-language book that summed up the career of a man who had been extremely powerful for so many years in Malaysia, and who influenced the region,” Maginn said in a phone interview from Malacca, where he is attending a conference.
He added that Palgrave Macmillan did not lose any money from having 800 copies of the book detained by customs in Port Klang from November 2009 until the book was approved. But the local distributor suffered losses by not making any sales during that period.
“From anecdotal evidence, we knew that Malaysians were going to Singapore to buy the book. There were also pirated soft copies online. (Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) also gave the book publicity when he said it should be released.
“We do think it’s a rather blunt instrument for governments to stop physical distribution of books because the same content can be available to anyone with the internet,” Maginn said.
Maginn (Courtesy of UBSD
Distribution Sdn Bhd) First time
It was the first time Palgrave Macmillan, which publishes academic works, experienced such a delay with any of its books in Malaysia.
Maginn, who is based in Hong Kong and who has dealt with the Malaysian market for 20 years, said Malaysia has usually been open towards academic works on Islam and politics published by Palgrave Macmillan.
“We have never experienced any problems, and I think the only explanation for the delay this book faced was not that there was anything wrong or sensitive about it, but that it was just a political decision,” said Maginn.
He said Palgrave Macmillan did not dispute the Home Minister‘s right as provided by law to check a book’s content before release, but was “disappointed with the length of time taken”.
The ministry initially said it would take 60 days to review the book by 18 Jan 2010, but extended the review period until its release last month.
Maginn said the publishing company did not try to negotiate a speedier release with the ministry.
“We were confident that the book was completely honest and fair, that there was nothing negative about Islam or any violation of law. That the ministry eventually released it means they agreed with us that there was nothing wrong.”
Palgrave Macmillan is in talks with a local publishing company to have Malaysian Maverick translated into Bahasa Malaysia. Maginn said an agreement is likely to be signed before the end of this year.
“People can make up their own minds about the book. Our intention as an academic publisher was to have an accurate analysis of a very important Malaysian figure, and I think we’ve achieved this,” he said.
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