OpenBook’s China Bestseller Lists for July 2017: Fiction and Nonfiction

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson6 Comments

As our monthly China Bestseller Lists for July go to press, OpenBook’s executive publishing conference during Beijing International Book Fair week, has put the 2016 value of the Chinese books market at some US$21 billion.

She Hong Jun of CITIC Press Group speaks at OpenBook’s Summit for Senior Executives of the China Publishing Industry. Image: Trajectory

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

China’s Kids’ Book Sales Estimated at US$2.4 billion

Slipping from No. 9 in June to No. 20 in July, the ‘Chinese Classical Poetry Quiz Show’ book is a tie-in with CCTV’s ‘China Poetry Conference’ series, credited by some with raising interest in the nation’s poetry.

In a conference event staged near Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) by the Chinese industry-data research firm OpenBook, the company put forward an estimate that in 2016, bookstores in China sold between 70 billion and 80 billion RMB in books (between US$10.5 billion and US$12 billion).

And when textbooks and group publishers are included, OpenBook’s analysts said, they’re estimating the Chinese book market in 2016 had a valuation of between 120 billion and 140 billion RMB (between US$18  billion and US$21 billion).

The event on Monday (August 21), OpenBook’s Summit for Senior Executives of the China Publishing Industry, was timed to coincide, of course, with BIBF and drew chief executives and editors from the 200 top publishing houses in China.

James Bryant, CEO of US-based Trajectory, which works in partnership with OpenBook, tells Publishing Perspectives that Fu Dawei—the CEO of children’s publisher Tomorrow Press—has reported that country-wide total children’s book sales in China in 2016 came in at some 16 billion RMB (US$2.4 billion).

Compare that to the 2006 figure that Fu Dawei cited of 1.8 billion RMB (US$270 million), and you get an idea of the kind of growth curve the young-reader sector has experienced in 10 years in the huge nation.

Guo Jingming’s novel ‘Rush to the Dead Summer’ was made into a television series that finished its run on Hunan TV in July. the book is about young friends and spans a 10-year plot line. It was at No. 7 in overall fiction last month. With the show’s run ending, it’s at No. 13 this month.

In terms of the broader industry, She Hong Jun, general manager of CITIC Press Group, ranked by many observers as China’s leading publishing operation, told the OpenBook audience that they’re exploring the concept of functioning as something akin to literary agents for their most popular authors. At this point, he said, CITIC organizes speeches and classroom-style lectures featuring its authors and readers pay to attend.

And here’s an intriguing insight: those live author events, She Hong Jun said, are generating more revenue than book sales.

These are some of the news items coming out of Beijing this week as the fair and its surrounding events go forward and as we put together our monthly bestseller lists from the Chinese market, a project of OpenBook, Trajectory, and Publishing Perspectives. Here’s more information about the Trajectory-OpenBook partnership that’s making it possible for us to bring you these monthly looks at the Chinese markets. Our first report in this series looked at June’s numbers. Today, we have July’s updates.

Charkin Honored at the Great Hall of the People

As we go to press, we’re informed by BIBF that six writers, seven translators, and seven publishers have this week been honored with the China Books Special Contribution Award for overseas publishing. In a ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, the award recipients have included Bloomsbury’s Richard Charkin, just featured on Friday (August 18) in a feature here at Publishing Perspectives.

Zhou Meisen’s ‘In the Name of the People’ is at No. 17 in the July overall fiction chart from OpenBook. It was at No. 3 in June. The television series based on the book–about bringing corrupt officials to justice–has aired some 55 episodes.

And just to quickly review how OpenBook and Trajectory process the market information that feeds our monthly lists, this data is estimated by OpenBook to represent some 30 to 40 percent of the total sales activity in China. OpenBooks draws 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

The Yilin Classics series figures frequently on China’s charts. Entering the OpenBook overall nonfiction list at No. 10 in July (and No. 5 in the foreign author nonfiction list) is Essays of Francis Bacon.

China has some 500 or more publishers in operation today. Most of them, Trajectory’s 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.

Our China rankings are in four sections:

  • OpenBook’s overall fiction bestsellers
  • OpenBook’s overall nonfiction bestsellers
  • Fiction bestsellers by non-Chinese authors
  • Nonfiction bestsellers by non-Chinese authors

OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, July 2017
June 2017 Rank July 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 Apr-14 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787544258609 Jan-13 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 3 9787208061644 Apr-06 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
4 4 9787544267618 Jun-14 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 5 9787500601593 Aug-05 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
6 6 9787550013247 May-15 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
9 7 9787544253994 May-11 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 8 9787530211267 Sep-11 The Common World Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 9 9787506365437 Jun-10 To Live Yu hua The WriterÕs Publishing House
11 10 9787530212004 Feb-12 The Common World (3 volumes) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
13 11 9787536692930 Jan-08 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
15 12 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
7 13 9787540475741 May-16 Rush to the Dead Summer Guo Jingming Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 14 9787559602398 May-17 The Legend of Wu Kong Jin Hezai Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 15 9787544760843 Aug-16 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte Yilin Press
25 16 9787020090006 Jul-12 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
3 17 9787530216194 Jan-17 In The Name of People Zhou Meisen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
20 18 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 19 9787544760782 Aug-16 Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift Yilin Press
19 20 9787020098095 Jun-13 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing
House

OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, July 2017
June 2017 Rank July 2017 Rank ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
5 2 9787549550173 Jan-14 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
3 3 9787550263932 Nov-15 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on
the Right (Full Version)
Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
2 4 9787508672069 Jan-17 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 5 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre Yilin Press
6 6 9787108042453 Sep-12 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
4 7 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
12 8 9787549564125 Apr-15 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
17 9 9787535447340 Feb-14 The Poignant Culture Traveling Yu Qiuyu Changjiang Literature & Press Co.,Ltd.
Not Ranked 10 9787544711623 Mar-11 Francis Bacon’s Essays Francis Bacon Yilin Press
Not Ranked 11 9787544765176 Aug-16 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home Fu Lei Yilin Press
11 12 9787549550159 Jan-14 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 13 9787544763981 Jun-16 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home (Revised Edition) Fu Lei Yilin Press
Not Ranked 14 9787201089140 Jan-15 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Tianjin People’s Publishing House
8 15 9787508671505 Dec-16 Speak Well: Fresh And Interesting Speaking Skills Ma Weiwei, Huang Zhizhong, Zhou Xuanyi CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
16 16 9787213046339 Nov-11 Facts of Ming Dynasty (1) Dang Nian Ming Yue Zhejiang People’s Publishing House
7 17 9787503560620 Mar-17 Ask Ding Jie Central Party School Press
Not Ranked 18 9787539999883 Mar-17 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art
Press
Not Ranked 19 9787530214787 Apr-17 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Chan Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
9 20 9787101117479 Feb-17 Chinese Classical Poetry Quiz Show Vol.1 CCTV “Chinese poetry conferenc” column group Zhonghua Book Company

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, July 2017
June Ranking July Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 Apr-14 Miracles of the Namiya General
Store
Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787544258609 Jan-13 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
4 3 9787208061644 Apr-06 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing
House
3 4 9787544267618 Jun-14 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 5 9787550013247 May-15 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
6 6 9787544253994 May-11 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 7 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Janpan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 8 9787544760843 Aug-16 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte Britain Yilin Press
8 9 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 10 9787544760782 Aug-16 Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift Britain Yilin Press
Not Ranked 11 9787544762519 Dec-16 How the Steel Was Tempered Nikolai Ostrovsky Soviet Union Yilin Press
9 12 9787201116693 May-17 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell
You She’s Sorry
Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787544760874 Oct-10 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne France Yilin Press
11 14 9787544285148 Oct-16 Malice Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 15 9787544285643 Dec-16 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 16 9787544244190 Mar-09 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 17 9787539971810 Apr-15 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 18 9787544761680 Dec-16 The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Miller Hemingway United States of America Yilin Press
13 19 9787544266222 Oct-13 After School Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 20 9787544277723 Jun-16 Tokio Higashino Keigo Janpan Nan Hai Publishing Co.

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, July 2017
June Ranking July Ranking ISBN</td> Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
1 2 9787508672069 Jan-17 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
3 3 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
2 4 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
11 5 9787544711623 Mar-11 Francis Bacon’s Essays Francis Bacon Britain Yilin Press
9 6 9787301109489 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol. 1) L.S.Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
16 7 9787544760850 Jan-17 Michelangelo / Tolstoy /
Beethoven
Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
10 8 9787301110522 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol. 2) L.S.Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
7 9 9787535732309 Nov-01 A Brief History of Time Stephen William Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology
Press
Not Ranked 10 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
4 11 9787514208788 Jul-13 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
Not Ranked 12 9787544704564 Jan-08 Souvenirs Entomologiques (Illustrated Edition) Jean-Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 13 9787544731799 Oct-12 The Story of My Life Helen Keller United States of America Yilin Press
6 14 9787544762885 Ape 2016 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
8 15 9787101054491 Feb-07 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America Zhonghua Book Company
5 16 9787308161459 Aug-16 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan Britain Zhejiang Eniversity Press Co.,Ltd
14 17 9787508650890 May-15 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 18 9787544761031 Dec-16 Stray Birds Rabindranath Tagore India Yilin Press
Not Ranked 19 9787800875830 Sep-99 How to Win Friends and Influence Others & How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Dale Carnegie United States of America China Development Press
15 20 9787530209073 Feb-09 Walden Henry David Thoreau United States of America Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

Publishing Perspectives’ interview with Beijing International Book Fair director Liying Lin is here.

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.

Comments

  1. I just want to know how an obscure English-language YA book, “Ferryman”, by Scottish author Claire McFall, released two years ago in China, became the overall #6 Chinese fiction bestseller in July 2017. Somewhere there’s a big lesson for publishers and/or self-published authors.

    1. Hi Thad – Great question. The answer might be found in a special promotion that JD.com ran this past June when it bundled (see link below) two best selling titles together with Ferryman. JD has an annual sales event in early June when they celebrate the founding of the company. It has become a nationwide phenomena – think Black Friday. During this event in June, JD bundled Kite Runner and Shadow Thief together with Ferryman. The bundle was JD’s best selling title during the sales event. By the way, each of the books has a similar sounding name in Chinese. (A Person who runs a kite. A Person who steals a shadow. A Person who ferries people.) As a follow up, the publisher of Ferryman ran a lot of promotions on social media here in China comparing the soul shaking similarities among the three titles. A well orchestrated campaign. Who says the tail can’t wag the dog?

      JD Link
      https://item.m.jd.com/product/1579497092.html?utm_source=androidapp&utm_medium=appshare&utm_campaign=t_335139774&utm_term=Wxfriends

      1. Author

        Very cool input, Jim, thanks for this — and as Thad says, a big lesson for publishers. As Open Road’s Jane Friedman has shown us, backlist still can float. 🙂

        Cheers,
        -p.

        On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson @PubPerspectives

  2. Author

    Ha! Hi, Thad, and leave it to you to spot McFall on the list. I couldn’t agree more about some of the fascinating “revivals” of a kind (maybe a few resurrections, even) on the lists our colleagues in Beijing are revealing to us with our new lists. Fascinating, really.

    I’m intrigued, for example, to see ‘Red Star Over China’ getting such traction. That’s a 1937 book by Edgar Snow about China’s Communist Party in its earlier phases. Snow spent time with the Red Army to write it at a time when the West was largely unaware of it.

    Interesting stuff, glad you’re enjoying these lists as we are, and thanks for the comment!
    -p.

    On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson @PubPerspectives

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