OpenBook’s China Bestseller Lists for August 2017: Delivery Races

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

As we roll out this month’s bestseller lists from China, the country’s second-largest e-retailer, JD.com, is holding a competition to engineer book delivery by drones.

A “JDrone” demonstration image from Chinese e-commerce retailer JD.com

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

A Competition for Chinese Drone Delivery

Zhang Hao Chen’s ‘A Matter of Love’ enters the overall fiction list in China in August at No. 3.

China’s OpenBook and the US-based Trajectory partner with each month to bring us exclusive access to their OpenBook-Trajectory China bestseller lists. And this month, Trajectory CEO James Bryant tells us that a major announcement from the two companies is in the works now.

These two companies will be at Frankfurt Book Fair (October 11 to 15), and you’ll find them in Hall 6.0, Stand C59.

At Frankfurt, Bryant says, “We’re meeting with publishers to discuss new [distribution] channels in China and Korea that are available to them for the first time.”

And one of the biggest developments in the Chinese market, Bryant tells us, is a furious competition among retailers for fast delivery of print books to consumers. When a state-owned bookstore in Beijing reported delivering a book in under 10 minutes after the order came in, China’s second-largest e-retailer JD.com answered by revving up its drone-delivery development.

Among the most popular foreign authors in China is Japan’s Higashino Keigo, with such titles as ‘After School’.

In May and June, CNBC reported that JD.com was working in Sichuan Province on a drone that could deliver packages weighing up to a ton to rural parts of China. The company’s technology chief Chen Zhang told CNBC’s Sam Meredith and Arjun Kharpal that the trickiest issue for JD has been battery life in drones that can deliver up to 30 kilograms, but have a range limit of 100 kilometers before needing a recharge.

Nearly 2 million people in December saw the video made of Amazon’s first test drone delivery in the UK countryside near Cambridge. But the program JD is working on differs from Amazon’s in destination. Rather than landing a drone at a consumer’s address, JD’s drones are being developed to fly large loads to local delivery people in villages and outlying areas. Those local delivery workers then take the drone-delivered packages on the “last mile” route, as it’s called, to specific consumers’ addresses.

And this month, Business Insider’s Stephanie Pandolph reports that JD.com is offering 100 million yuan (some US$15 million) in a drone delivery competition. “The online retailer wants to be seen as China’s leader in fast delivery,” Pandolph writes, and urban delivery issues, of course, are the most difficult both in regulatory issues and in sheer logistical effectiveness.

New Bestseller Charts

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ holds at No. 7 on the Chinese chart in August, as it did in July.

Trajectory and OpenBook have provided us with the bestseller charts for the month of August, and you’ll find some explanatory notes after the fourth (of four) charts below.

In August, we saw six new titles make their debuts. Among them were Zhang Hao Chen’s A Matter of Love and Yishu’s The First Half of My Life. The latter is a television series tie-in.

And in terms of foreign authors doing well in China, Khaled Hosseini of The Kite Runner and Japan’s Higashino Keigo’s books are abiding fixtures, along with classics: this time, Gabriel García Márquez is again in seventh place with One Hundred Years of Solitude.


OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, August 2017
Rank: Jul 2017 Rank: Aug 2017 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.
Not Ranked 3 9787201120713 Jul-17 A Matter of Love Zhang Haochen Tianjin People’s Publishing House
3 4 9787208061644 Apr-06 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
4 5 9787544267618 Jun-14 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
6 6 9787550013247 May-15 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
7 7 9787544253994 May-11 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 8 9787556231928 Jul-17 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King (17) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 9 9787530215593 Jun-17 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
5 10 9787500601593 Aug-05 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
12 11 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
9 12 9787506365437 Jun-10 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
11 13 9787536692930 Jan-08 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
16 14 9787020090006 Jul-12 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
18 15 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 16 9787540481124 Jun-17 The First Half of My Life Yi Shu Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 17 9787544285148 Oct-16 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 18 9787530216194 Jan-17 In The Name of People Zhou Meisen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 19 9787559602398 May-17 The Legend of Wu Kong (Collector’s Edition) Jin Hezai Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 20 9787544277617 Jun-15 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
23 21 9787201116693 May-17 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787020008735 Jul-98 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
8 23 9787530211267 Sep-11 Ordinary Word Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787530216781 Jun-17 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 9787544285643 Dec-16 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
28 26 9787540458027 Oct-13 I Belonged to You Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 27 9787544266222 Oct-13 After School Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 28 9787539971810 Apr-15 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
27 29 9787530212837 Sep-15 Muslim’s Funeral Huo Da Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
29 30 9787536693968 May-08 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House

OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, August 2017
Rank: Jul 2017 Rank: Aug 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
4 2 9787508672069 Jan-17 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
7 3 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
3 4 9787550263932 Nov-15 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
2 5 9787549550173 Jan-14 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 6 9787503561634 Aug-17 Xi Jinping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
6 7 9787108042453 Nov-12 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
18 8 9787539999883 Mar-17 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
15 9 9787508671505 Dec-16 Speak Well: Fresh and Interesting Speaking Skills Ma Weiwei, Huang Zhizhong, Zhou Xuanyi CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
Not Ranked 10 9787020130702 Aug-17 The Reader (Vol.1) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
9 11 9787535447340 Feb-14 The Poignant Culture Traveling Yu Qiuyu Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 12 9787540480837 May-17 Green: A Journey Through Time With Anthony Anthony,R.N. Hunan Literature & Art Press
8 13 9787549564125 Apr-15 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 14 9787540482169 Jul-17 It’s a Long Journey Lu Sihao Hunan Literature & Art Press
17 15 9787503560620 Mar-17 Ask Ding Jie Central Party School Press
12 16 9787549550159 Jan-14 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
5 17 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre Yilin Press
23 18 9787535488473 May-16 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co., Ltd.
27 19 9787540476892 Jul-16 Goodwill Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
19 20 9787530214787 Apr-17 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Chan Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 21 9787201088945 Dec-14 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
14 22 9787201089140 Jan-15 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Tianjin People’s Publishing House
20 23 9787101117479 Feb-17 Chinese Classical Poetry Quiz Show (Vol.1) CCTV “Chinese poetry conference” column group Zhonghua Book Company
21 24 9787549529322 Dec-12 Insight Chai Jing Guangxi Normal University Press
30 25 9787506379236 May-15 The Tough Brilliance (New Revised Supplement Edition) Jin Yinan The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787514208788 Jul-13 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
24 27 9787101117721 Feb-17 Chinese Classical Poetry Quiz Show (Vol.2) CCTV “Chinese poetry conference” column group Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 28 9787020130719 Aug-17 The Reader (Vol.2) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787020130726 Aug-17 The Reader (Vol.3) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
22 30 9787108051714 May-15 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, August 2017
Rank: Jul 2017 Rank: Aug 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 Apr-14 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787544258609 Jan-13 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 3 9787208061644 Apr-06 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini USA Shanghai People’s Publishing House
4 4 9787544267618 Jun-14 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 5 9787550013247 May-15 Ferryman Claire McFall UK Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
6 6 9787544253994 May-11 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 7 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
9 8 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 9 9787540481124 Jun-17 The First Half of My Life Yi Shu Canada Hunan Literature & Art Press
14 10 9787544285148 Oct-16 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 11 9787544277617 Jun-15 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 12 9787201116693 May-17 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
15 13 9787544285643 Dec-16 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
19 14 9787544266222 Oct-13 After School Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 15 9787539971810 Apr-15 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin USA Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
20 16 9787544277723 Jun-15 Tokio Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 17 9787544244190 Mar-09 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 18 9787544760843 Aug-16 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte UK Yilin Press
Not Ranked 19 9787020111893 Dec-15 Different Seasons Stephen King USA People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 20 9787530216842 May-17 The Anguish of Galileo Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, August 2017
Rank: Jul 2017 Rank: Aug 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow USA People’s Literature Publishing House
2 2 9787508672069 Jan-17 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
4 3 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
3 4 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
11 5 9787514208788 Jul-13 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal USA Cultural Development Publishing House
9 6 9787535732309 Nov-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen William Hawking UK Hunan Science & Technology Press
14 7 9787544762885 Apr-16 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff USA Yilin Press
6 8 9787301109489 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
8 9 9787301110522 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
16 10 9787308161459 Aug-18 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan UK Zhejiang Eniversity Press Co., Ltd
17 11 9787508650890 May-15 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson USA CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
5 12 9787544711623 Mar-11 Francis Bacon’s Essays Francis Bacon UK Yilin Press
15 13 9787101054491 Feb-07 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang USA Zhonghua Book Company
19 14 9787800875830 Sep-99 How to Win Friends and Influence Others & How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Kale Carnegie USA China Development Press
Not Ranked 15 9787300126210 Nov-10 Mao: A Biography Ross Terrill USA China Renmin University Press
7 16 9787544760850 Jan-17 Michelangelo / Tolstoy / Beethoven Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 17 9787101052039 Aug-06 1587, a Year of No Significance (Commemorative Edition) Ray Huang USA Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 18 9787550252585 May-15 Secret Garden Johanna Basford UK Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 19 9787514205039 Jul-12 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal USA Cultural Development Publishing House
20 20 9787530209073 Feb-09 Walden Henry David Thoreau USA Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

Notes on the Charts

OpenBook is a privately owned industry-data research firm based in Beijing. It functions somewhat as Nielsen and NDP do from the West, and Nielsen Book Research International chief Andre Breedt tells us that Nielsen has worked with OpenBook in Asian operations.

Trajectory, based near Boston, is an importer of Western-language ebooks and audiobooks into China. Trajectory is also helping China’s largest publishers export their books and audiobooks through a proprietary global ebook distribution network that includes hundreds of retailers as well as library and school distributors.

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

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.

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.