Sales of Sonny Liew's 'The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye' spike after Eisners win

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
Copies of The Art of Charlie Chan at Books Kinokuniya’s main store in Ngee Ann City. PHOTO: Nicholas Yong/Yahoo News Singapore

Sales of the internationally acclaimed graphic novel “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye” in Singapore have spiked after its author Sonny Liew won three Eisner Awards.

The three major bookstore chains here all reported a significant increase in sales of the book in the wake of Liew’s historic win. The 42-year-old is the first Singaporean to win an Eisner, the comic industry’s equivalent of an Oscar.

Kinokuniya Singapore store director Kenny Chan told Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore that the company’s flagship store in Ngee Ann City shifted close to 80 copies of “Charlie Chan” in the week starting 17 July, as compared to the usual of 10 or more copies a week. Chan said he expected the book to make it to Kinokuniya’s top 10 bestseller list this week, noting that it had been released in 2015.

Over at POPULAR, merchandising manager Puah Ee Teng said that its 29 stores sold three times more copies than usual over the weekend (23 and 24 July). “We have replenished another batch of stock (in) anticipation (of) the increased demand (for) the book.”

Meanwhile, MPH Bookstores reported that while sales of “Charlie Chan” had slowed down over the past month, they picked up again after Liew’s win on Saturday (22 July). Since 2016, MPH has sold about 700 copies of the book at its two stores. Merchandising manager Matthias Low noted, “His book is one of the hottest bestsellers, especially by a local author. Apart from Lee Kuan Yew’s books, (for) which the sales figures are astronomical, few local authors have (sold) between 300 – 500 copies in our stores.”

Told through the eyes of its fictional protagonist, “Charlie Chan” examines key moments in Singapore’s history from the 1950s to the 1980s and beyond. They include Operation Coldstore, the detention without trial of dozens of left-wing politicians and trade unionists in 1963, defamation suits filed by ministers against opposition figures and the alleged Marxist conspiracy of 1987. The late Lee Kuan Yew and Lim Chin Siong, co-founders of the ruling People’s Action Party, are also key characters in the narrative.

Freelance writer Wong Jun Heng, 38, is planning to purchase a copy of “Charlie Chan” for a variety of reasons. “It won Eisner Awards, plus it’s local. This is to me the same as (Joseph) Schooling winning an Olympic gold for Singapore.”

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