OpenBook’s China Bestseller Lists for June 2017: A Publishing Perspectives Exclusive

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Based on sales at 3,115 physical stores and 11 online retailers, Publishing Perspectives’ monthly OpenBook bestseller lists survey the Chinese market.

This huge open book is at Three Gorges Dam at Sandouping, China, and relates the history of Tanziling Ridge in Chinese and English. Image – iStockphoto: Steven Bramall

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

OpenBook and Trajectory Statistics
We’re pleased to bring you a new feature here at Publishing Perspectives. With the assistance of OpenBook in China and Trajectory in the United States, we plan to bring you monthly bestseller lists from China of two kinds:

  • The Top 20 fiction and nonfiction titles in the overall Chinese market
  • The Top 20 fiction and nonfiction titles by non-Chinese authors

In operation since 1998, Beijing-based OpenBook provides point-of-sale data for the Chinese book market. OpenBook  announced signing a new agreement with Nielsen in the spring of 2015.

Trajectory, based near Boston in the US, describes itself as a network of ebook distributors and provides “natural language processing” to extract valuable metadata from ebooks. Publishing Perspectives has reported at several points on Trajectory’s expansion over the years in the Chinese market in particular.

Thanks to OpenBooks’ general manager Yanping Jiang (who is one of three owners of OpenBooks) and Trajectory CEO James Bryant, we’re able to offer some interesting statistics on the Chinese market.

In physical bookstores, OpenBooks receives point-of-sale data from a total 3,115 stores located in 1,247 cities. These stores include:

  • Traditional bookstores
  • Supermarkets
  • Campus bookstores
  • “Professional” stores, which are said to be small stores with a specific industrial or trade focus
  • Airport stores

In addition, OpenBook is drawing data from online bookstores of two main types:

  • The “Tmall” stores, of Alibaba (Tmall described as a marketplace of companies that create storefronts online to sell products including books)
  • Ten independent online bookselling retailers

Trajectory’s James Bryant and OpenBook’s Yanping Jiang at London Book Fair 2017

This data represents some 30 to 40 percent of the total sales activity in China today. In 2016, OpenBook tracked sales of 1.68 million individual titles.

As for publishers, China has some 500 or more publishers in operation today. Most of them, Bryant clarifies for us, are government-owned. Private publishers are required to purchase ISBNs for their titles from a publishing company that is government-owned—which, in other words, creates a system in which all ISBNs are in one way or another registered through government channels.

The government approves each book published in China.

OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, June 2017

We have more information on several selected titles below.

May 2017 Rank June 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787544270878 Apr 2014 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing
3 2 9787544258609 Jan 2013 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing
1 3 9787530216194 Jan 2017 In the Name of People Zhou Mei Sen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
4 4 9787544267618 Jun 2014 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing
6 5 9787208061644 Apr 2006 Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
5 6 9787550013247 May 2015 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
7 9787540475741 May 2016 Rush to the Dead Summer Guo Jing Ming Hunan Literature & Art Press
13 8 9787020090297 Sep 2012 White Deer Plain Chen Zhong Shi People’s Literature Publishing House
8 9 9787544253994 May 2011 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez Nan Hai Publishing
7 10 9787500601593 Aug 2005 Red Crag Luo Guang Fu, Yang Yi Yan China Youth Press
10 11 9787530212004 Feb 2012 Ordinary World Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
12 9787556231935 May 2017 The Land of Douluo Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and ChildrenÕs Publishing House
15 13 9787536692930 Jan 2008 The Three-Body Problem Liu Ci Xin Chongqing Publishing House
11 14 9787506365437 Jun 2010 To Live Yu Hua The WriterÕs Publishing House
15 9787559603340 May 2017 Sleeping Mermaid’s House Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing
14 16 9787540458027 Oct 2013 Going Cross Your Whole World Zhang Jia jia Hunan Literature & Art Press
17 17 9787530211267 Sep 2011 Ordinary World (Universal Copy) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
22 18 9787506394840 Apr 2017 Sky Set Jiao Jian The WriterÕs Publishing House
25 19 9787020098095 Jun 2013 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhong Shu People’s Literature Publishing House
19 20 9787540455958 Jun 2012 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press

 

Fiction Bestseller Focus: In the Name of the People (No. 3 in June), by Zhou Mei Sen (Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House)

“A project head in the national ministry,” reads promotional material for this novel, “is reported to have accepted tens of millions of yuan in bribes.

“And yet, when Hou Liangping, chief of the investigation  department of the anti-corruption bureau of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, arrives to investigate, he sees an honest-looking man in simple clothing, looking like an old farmer, eating noodles with soybean paste in a shabby old apartment.”

The central narrative of this novel is the investigation, which ends up as Hou Liangping’s responsibility when he must take over for a colleague and friend.

By contrast to the 1978 Red Crag, Zhou Mei Sen’s In the Name of the People is a new novel, released in January.

Fiction Bestseller Focus: Red Crag (No. 10 in June), by Luo Guang Fu, Yang Yi Yan (China Youth Press)

Originally published in 1978 in the city then known as Peking, the novel was said by its publisher to be “written by two former inmates of the US/Chaing Kai-shek secret-service concentration camps in Chung-king, Szechuan Province.”

Set in 1949, the book, according to its promotional material, “focuses on the actual life-and-death struggles inside the camps on the eve of the city’s liberation.

“The story extols the revolutionary martyrs whose unfailing optimism, fortitude and resourcefulness enable them to overcome the ordeals of torture, hunger and truth drugs. They finally establish contact with the party underground outside the prison, strengthening the overall revolutionary struggle.”


OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, June 2017
May 2017 Rank June 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 9787540480837 May 2017 A Journey Through Time with Antony Antony Hunan Literature & Art Press
1 2 9787508672069 Jan 2017 A Brief History of Tomorrow: From Human to God Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House
4 3 9787550263932 Nov 2015 Genius On The Left, Crazies On The Right Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing
3 4 9787508660752 Feb 2017 A Brief History of Humankind: From Animal to God Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House
9 5 9787549550173 Jan 2014 Watched (Illustrated version) Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
6 6 9787108042453 Sep 2012 Our Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
2 7 9787503560620 Mar 2017 Going After Ding Jie Central Party School Press
8 8 9787508671505 Dec 2016 Good Talk: Interesting Speech Technique Ma Weiwei,Huang Zhizhong, Zhou Xuanyi CITIC Publishing House
5 9 9787101117479 Feb 2017 Chinese Poetry Collection Part 1 CCTV Zhonghua Book Company
7 10 9787101117721 Feb 2017 Chinese Poetry Collection Part 2 CCTV Zhonghua Book Company
14 11 9787549550159 Jan 2014 Take Your Time Kid (Illustrated version) Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
19 12 9787549564125 Apr 2015 Dear Andreas Long Yingtai,Andreas Guangxi Normal University Press
18 13 9787540476892 Jul 2016 OkOk Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
12 14 9787535488473 May 2016 Free: Going Along, the World of Jia Ping Ao Jia Ping Ao Changjiang Literature & Art Press
15 9787544710817 Jun 2010 The Insect World of J. Henri Fabre J. Henri Fabre Yilin Press
15 16 9787213046339 Nov 2011 The Things of Ming Dynasty Dang Nian Ming Yue Zhejiang People’s Publishing House
25 17 9787535447340 Feb 2014 The Bitter Trip Of Culture Yu Qiu Yu Changjiang Literature & Art Press
24 18 9787530211113 Jul 2011 Complete Collection of San Mao San Mao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
19 9787506379236 May 2015 The Glorious Suffering Jin Yi Nan The WriterÕs Publishing House
20 9787300205434 Mar 2015 Big Road: Chinese Communist Party and Chinese Communism Yan Yi Long, Bai Gang, Zhang Yong Le China Renmin University Press

Nonfiction Bestseller Focus: Homo Deus (No. 2 in June), by Yuval Noah Harari (CITIC Publishing)

The writer holding both the No. 2 and No. 4 spots on the nonfiction list in June, Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow From Human to God “explores the projects, dreams, and nightmares,” according to the publisher CITIC’s material, “that will shape the 21st century, from overcoming death to creating the artificial life.”

Popular in many parts of the world, Harari’s other key title is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind of 2015.

Homo Deus includes the Earth’s status in Harari’s speculations–”how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?” asks his Chinese publisher–and envisions a time in which “war is obsolete.” In the next stage of evolution, says Yuval Noah Harari, “you are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict, and more at risk of obesity than starvation.

“Death is just a technical problem,” according to promotional copy for the book. “Equality is out but immortality is in.”

Nonfiction Bestseller Focus: Genius on the Left, Crazies on the Right (No. 3 in June), by Gao Ming (Beijing Union Publishing)

Author Gao Ming spent four years interviewing and studying “extraordinary people” for this book that takes in looks at psychological, philosophical, biological and religious “perspectives of abnormal human beings,” according to promotional material.

Said to be the first book in the Chinese marketplace to feature recorded interviews with mental patients and other “marginal people,” Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right has risen from fourth place in May to third in June on the nonfiction list.

The book has been out since November 2015.

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, June 2017
June 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 9787544270878 Apr 2014 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 9787544258609 Jan 2013 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 9787544267618 Jun 2014 Yung Suspect X Full devotion Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
4 9787208061644 Apr 2006 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
5 9787550013247 May 2015 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
6 9787544253994 May 2011 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 9787559603340 May 2017 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 9787540455958 Jun 2012 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
9 9787201116693 May 2017 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
10 9787539971810 Apr 2015 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
11 9787544285148 Oct 2016 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 9787544285643 Dec 2016 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 9787544266222 Oct 2013 After School Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 9787550293151 Dec 2016 Laplace’s Witch Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
15 9787544244190 Mar 2009 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 9787544277617 Jun 2015 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 9787544277723 Jun 2015 Tokio Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 9787514357042 Feb 2017 Chase in the Snow Higashino Keigo Japan Morden Press
19 9787544266239 Sep 2013 Mysterious Night Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 9787020111893 Dec 2015 Different Seasons Stephen King United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House

Foreign Author Bestseller Fiction Focus: The Kite Runner (No. 4 in June) by Khaled Hosseini (Shanghai People’s Publishing House)

The enduring novel by Afghani-American author Khaled Hosseini reportedly has been translated into 38 languages. The novel, originally published in 2003 by Riverhead Books, is said to have been sold in more than 70 countries.

The Kite Runner and Hosseini’s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, reportedly have sold more than 38 million copies.

In its Chinese publishers’ promotional copy for The Kite Runner, we read copy that parallels that of the English-language sales material, “A powerful story of friendship, it’s also about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons–their love, their sacrifices, their lies.


Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, June 2017
June 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 9787508672069 Jan 2017 Homo Deu: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
2 9787508660752 Feb 2017 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
3 9787544710817 Jun 2010 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
4 9787514208788 Jul 2013 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
5 9787308161459 Aug 2016 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan Britain Zhejiang Eniversity Press Co.,Ltd
6 9787544762885 Apr 2016 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
7 9787535732309 Nov 2001 A Brief History of Time Stephen William Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
8 9787101054491 Feb 2007 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America Zhonghua Book Company
9 9787301109489 Oct 2006 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century L.S.Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
10 9787301110522 Oct 2006 A Global History L.S.Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
11 9787544711623 Mar 2011 Francis Bacon’s Essays Francis Bacon Britain Yilin Press
12 9787513903509 Nov 2014 Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore Britain Democracy and
Construction Press
13 9787508673158 Mar 2017 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
14 9787508650890 May 2015 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 9787530209073 Feb 2009 Walden Henry David Thoreau United States of America Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
16 9787544760850 Jan 2017 The Life of Beethoven Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
17 9787544289146 May 2017 The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 9787550274402 Apr 2016 Haruki Murakami Journey Kelly McGonigal Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
19 9787550252585 May 2015 Secret Garden Johanna Basford Britain Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
20 9787514205039 Jul 2012 The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It
Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House

An updated note on the Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers list: You’ll notice a couple of instances in which entries in the Top 20 are duplicative.  OpenBook has provided us with the following disambiguation:

  • At No. 2, the book listed as Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (more on it below, the white cover) is a single volume.
  • At No. 13, the entry is for both of Yuval Noah Harari’s bestsellers, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow from Human to God (more on that one is above, the green and black cover). This is a two-book set, in other words, titled for the purposes of this listing with the title of the first single book, Sapiens.
  • At No. 4, the listing is for the most recent edition of The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, published in 2013 by Cultural Development Publishing House.
  • At No. 20, you see an older edition of the same Kelly McGonigal book, The Willpower Instinct, from 2012, priced at a slightly lower price than the newer one.

Foreign Author Bestseller Nonfiction Focus: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (No. 2 in June) by Yuval Noah Harari (CITIC Publishing)

As seen at No. 4 in the overall nonfiction listings, Israeli author Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has the No. 2 spot on the nonfiction foreign author list, behind Harari’s No. 1 position with Homo Deus.

The Chinese publisher’s descriptive material about the book closely follows the original English editions’ sales copy, reading, in part, “Dr. Hariri compels us to look ahead because over the last few decades, humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us but also ourselves.”

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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