Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore

Partners: Prime Minister’s Office (Singapore Bicentennial Office) and National Library, Singapore

This milestone history book was published in 2019 as part of Singapore’s Bicentennial commemoration.

The Project

Four of Singapore’s most prominent historians - Kwa Chong Guan, Derek Heng, Peter Borschberg and Tan Tai Yong - had been tasked to completely rewrite an existing history book for a new and wider audience  

The book was to be published in 2019 as part of the commemoration of Singapore's Bicentennial. The first discussions began in early 2018 and were followed by a complex and competitive tendering process, which we eventually came out on top of.

2. The Project
4. The Result (1)

The Process

A team from the National Library Board was to support with image research and general consultation, leaving us to undertake copyediting, design, layout editing, proofreading, pre-press QC, printing, and the eventual sales and marketing. 

Due to the number of stakeholders and contributors involved in both pre- and post-publication of the book, the project management and administrative demands were also considerable.

Over the course of the year we worked on the project, our value was ever-present. Our Senior Editor did an excellent job editing the text to ensure it was factual, readable and had a consistent voice throughout – a considable feat given that four different writers contributed essays.

Visually, the book is highly impressive. We contributed to an intense image hunt that makes the book one of the best-illustrated Singapore history books of recent times. A centrepiece fold-out reimagining of 14th-century Singapore was conceptualised, researched and realised by one of our most talented partner illustrators. The stunning cover design speaks for itself.

The Result

Thanks to agile and focused marketing and sales efforts, the book immediately shot into the Straits Times Bestseller list and stayed there for 18 weeks – an unprecedented feat for a local history book. Overall, to date, the book has sold more than three times as many copies its planned print run of 3000 copies.

Its status as a national bestseller was helped by positive reviews we secured for the book and a number of successful events we were instrumental in organising, including a lively Meet-the-Author session at the Fort Canning Centre. 

Finally, as well as becoming a national besteller, the quality of Seven Hundred Years was validated in December 2019 by readers themselves, who awarded it second place in the POPULAR Readers Choice Awards. It was also named as a finalist in the Best Illustrated Non-fiction and Book of the Year categories at the Singapore Book Awards 2020.

4. The Result (2)

Gene Tan

Executive Director,
Singapore Bicentennial Office,
Prime Minister’s Office

Seven Hundred Years. A History of Singapore was not an easy publication to develop. There were four historians, not all of whom were always in Singapore, and who each took on a different part of the work. The indefatigable spirit and patience of the Marshall Cavendish team made a huge difference so that the eventual publication became one of the most popular and lauded works on Singapore history. The team’s remarkably meticulous attention to all aspects of the project was very much appreciated by the historians, and also by myself, who was leading the equally complex Singapore Bicentennial commemoration. The book became the flagship publication of the commemoration and I could not have imagined a more effective publishing partner.