The most sought after Billion Dollar Whale

Curious book lovers and political punters are placing the book at the top of the charts in every bookstore nationwide


Low Taek Jho might not be a fan of Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World, written by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, but Malaysians and Singaporeans are flocking the stores to get their copies.

While Low, better known as Jho Low, the main character the book is based on, described the book as “a guilt-by-life- style and trial-by-media at its worst”, curious book lovers and political punters are placing the book at the top of the charts of every bookstore nationwide.

“The Billion Dollar Whale is one of three recently and hastily published books, with the authors attempting to write ‘instant history’, without the benefit of evidence and before the issues have even begun to be resolved,” Jho Low said in a statement on his website, statements-to-media.

In a clap-back response to the statement, Wright tweeted, “Hastily published? It was three years of our lives!”

The three years the writers spent researching and writing the book had really paid off, it seems.

Books are an IP and the authors worked hard to put it together. i think the distributors must think first before they circulate the free copy, says Kee (Pic: TMRpic)

MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd COO Donald Kee said the non-fiction book is such a hot item that the company had to order more copies to meet the overwhelming reception and pre-orders.

“We should be having new stocks of the book by next week,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said the book’s high demand is due to the relevance of its “scandalous content” that would whet the appetites of many who had previously been lapping up all the crumbs from various mainstream and alternative media that might lead them to the truth behind the “1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) saga”.

“People are very interested in controversial issues, such as when Robert Kuok’s autobiography (came out) which had a few parts that addressed sensitive things, and people were extremely hooked on it.

“I think the fact that Billion Dollar Whale addresses the grandness of 1MDB and the person behind it — what he did to get people to give him money, and how he earned their trust is something many people would like to know about,” Kee said.

The book tells the story of Jho Low as a young social climber (the whale as referred to in the title) who looted billions of dollars.

It is based on years of investigative reporting by Wright and Hope, the two Wall Street Journal reporters who had so far uncovered the scandal in various articles that also caught global attention.

Kinokuniya KLCC Malaysia store manager Satoshi Yada said some 700 copies of the book had been snapped up at the outlet since its release on Sunday.

Many left the stores empty handed. Twitter user Sara Qahar, or @syzulqahar said she called a few bookstores only to find that the Billion Dollar Whale was sold out everywhere.

“Had to pre-order it from Popular. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, some pre-orders were said to have been cancelled because a free copy of the book exists online.

Kee said the distribution of the free copy is not a good thing and the bookstore condemns the act.

“Somebody actually forwarded the free copy to me, and we as a bookstore disagree with this.

“Books are an intellectual property (IP) and the authors worked hard to put it together. I think the distributors must think first before they circulate the free copy.

“However, we cannot help or control it. We can only hope that bodies like the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will take action against these illegal distributions,” he said.

Twitter user @paultantk, or Paul Tan, said a lot of people asked why he chose to buy a physical copy of the book when there is a distribution of the free PDF version.

“You get angry reading a book about people stealing money…and then you steal money from the authors by reading the book for free,” he answered.