A major milestone for My Johor Stories

When I started my book project in February 2017, I did not know that it was the start of an eventful journey where my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, would end up at the No. 1 spot on the MPH Publishing, Non-Fiction Best-sellers list, for the week 14 July to 20 July.

Presenting a giant mock-up of her book, My Johor Stories:
True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage
to guest-of-honour,
Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad at the book launch event
This was achieved only because readers are keen to have copies of my book and are happy to present it to others as a unique gift with a Johor flavour.

Most readers are familiar with my work, first published in The New Straits Times, The Iskandarian and in my blog of the same name, and are aware that I write, not only about my family in ‘grandfather stories’ but also about interesting Johor personalities as well as Johor-centric stories that encourage unity and increase understanding.

I appreciate the partnership of The Iskandarian which provided me with an avenue to share more Johor stories and have even dedicated an entire page to My Johor Stories in their monthly publications.

A display of items from a bygone era to set the mood for
the launch of My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People,
Rich Heritage
, a collection of best-loved stories on
Johor's social history
As Johor is rapidly developing into a modern metropolis with new leisure, education, business and residential developments in Iskandar Puteri, investors and new residents are moving to live and work here. 

While everyone is keen on economic and social progress, I thought that it was also good to balance the new with the old and share about local heritage in my stories.

Among the stories first published in The Iskandarian that garnered a wide readership are my recollections in Old Markets and Bus Terminals, and my memories on Johor Baru’s First Food Court.

Many readers could identify with the details I described and they wrote to me with comments and even shared their own memories!

Guests responding spontaneously to my question about their partiality to the food served at the pasak-kia, JB's first
food court; My nephew, Aaron Loh [Standing] recording the event, live-streaming to share with our relatives
in the UK and Australia  
Recently, I read that Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) is considering to rebuild the food court at Jalan Ungku Puan as part of the Sungai Segget rejuvenation project.

While I like the idea of giving new generations the experience of an upgraded version of JB’s first food court, a great deal must be done before they can even consider creating a modern food court near Sungai Segget. This includes improving traffic control, public parking habits and proper food sanitation and disposal facilities in the heart of the city

I wonder what IRDA Advisor and Member of Parliament for Johor Baru, Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, have to say about it?

When he was elected to the role in 1978, his political career brought him to JB and the city is now his adopted home. Over the years, we met regularly at community events and he was familiar with how I was connecting people to Johor Baru through my work.

When I approached Tan Sri Shahrir to invite him to write the Foreword for my book, his reply was spontaneous and positive. When we met to talk about it, he also generously placed an advance order for 500 copies of my books!

Then I learnt that he wanted to distribute my books to the libraries of all the secondary schools in his constituency to encourage the reading habit. I was simply stunned and humbled by his overwhelming support.
                   
I was also pleased that Tan Sri Shahrir graciously agreed to be the guest-of-honour who will launch my book.

My book launch event was graced by guests in a veritable Who’s Who in Johor Baru list and I was deeply honoured by their presence. It did not matter if they were titled or not because to me, it was particularly meaningful that everyone gathered for my event, wanted to be there.

I also appreciate the professional partnership of MPH Publishing and Think City, and their support to make my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, a reality.

Linda [Left] who was in charge of the book sale
at my book launch event held at the
DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru
A MPH book sale table was set up at the event and even before the event programme started, guests were buying books. Early this year, I started the book project with no expectations but I’m deeply grateful for the positive response to my book.

At the close of the event, Linda, who was in charge of the book sale, told me with much amazement, that in her 20-year career with MPH, she participated in many book launches but never before were the books sold-out. All the books they brought for sale – not counting the bulk pre-orders that were set aside – were sold!

Later I was told that in the history of MPH book launches, never before, even in Kuala Lumpur, were all the books sold-out at a launch event. Not until my book launch on July 15, 2017 in Johor Baru!

On July 24, I received an email from MPH Publishing with the message:

"Dear Peggy,
My Johor Stories made it to the MPH weekly bestsellers list for last weekend!
Heartiest congratulations!!!"

This message was followed by the list of book titles and authors, with my book title and my name topping the list at No. 1.

It really didn’t matter if my book was a bestseller or not, but to be added into the MPH Bestsellers’ list and hitting the Non-Fiction, No. 1 spot, is undeniably, an added bonus!

In August, I received another message from MPH to inform me that my book stayed on the MPH Bestsellers’ list for two consecutive weeks. 

The most recent update I received from MPH informed me that My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, was the No. 3 Non-Fiction Bestseller for the week ending Aug 24, 2017, and by then, it had been on the Bestsellers list for five consecutive weeks!

Autographing my book for Grace Chiam [Right] while
DoubleTree by Hilton JB general manager, Daniel Alcaraz,
looks on
I share this humble achievement with readers who appreciate how I enjoy sharing my Johor stories. I couldn’t have achieved it without you, the readers, and I thank you, ever so much!

While I’m still receiving positive feedback and comments about my book, one reader succinctly sums it up by saying, “You’ve put all my fondest memories of JB into the book and more that I wasn’t aware of!”

Through social media, I see photos of friends and family in KL, the UK and Australia, reading my book. It’s both heart-warming and amusing to see how far – physically – my book has gone.

My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, is available at MPH Bookstores nationwide and online through www.mphonline.com

A version of this was published in the September 2017 issue of The Iskandarian

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