OpenBook’s China Bestseller Lists for September: The Road to Shanghai

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson2 Comments

With the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair ahead, we see that young authors—including the Yuan twins at Peking University—are rocking China’s bestseller charts this autumn.

Rights trading at Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair in 2016. Image: CCBF

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

China’s Young Bestsellers and a Children’s Book Fair

As we present our September bestseller lists from China, Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) is well into preparations for its November 17-19 run. By the time we come to you with our next monthly round of these bestsellers, more than 350 exhibitors from 35 markets will have displayed more than 60,000 titles in 25,000 square meters at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition Center.

New exhibitors this year, organizers tell Publishing Perspectives, include Sweden’s Bonnier, Japan’s Tohan, and Penguin Random House, which apparently will be making its Shanghai debut this year.

Of special interest to those of us following plans for Canada’s Guest of Honor turn in at the 2020 Frankfurter Buchmesse is the fact that a new Canadian combined stand is coming in with 10 publishing companies and Livres Canada Books. In addition, the show, produced by Reed Exhibitions, is to include two Korean combined stands, one from the Korean Publishers Association and the other from the Korean Publication Industry Promotion Agency. Among agencies participating in the second of those pavilions are Miraen and the Shinwon Agency.

An entry in the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair’s Golden Pinwheel competition in illustration, this is from Tehran-based artist Fatemeh for ‘The Lord of Masks.’ Image: CCBF

The fair’s annual Golden Pinwheel Award competition for young illustrators is now in its third year. This year’s entries—all of which must be suitable for use in children’s picture books, usually in groups of five per project—are on display in an online gallery.

Shanghai also includes rights trading as part of its professional program, and is said by its organizers to be the only Asian-Pacific fair fully devoted to the children’s publishing sector. Its Friday (November 17) conference is a daylong program with an extensive lineup of key sessions, including rights-trading instruction and discussions of children’s digital reading, translation, marketing, and more.

And as kids get ready to go to CCBF, we turn to our latest bestseller charts for adult titles, made possible by China’s OpenBook and the US-based Trajectory—our exclusive presentation of their OpenBook-Trajectory China bestseller lists—which turn out to include some chart-topping young writers’ efforts.

At the entrance to the 2016 iteration of the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair. Image: CCBF

New Bestseller Charts

Trajectory and OpenBook have provided us with the bestseller charts for the month of September, and you’ll find explanatory notes about these charts after the fourth (of four) charts below. With the help of our Trajectory colleague Yu Dan, we’ll share several points of analysis among the charts.

OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, September 2017

‘Journey to the West’ by Wu Cheng’en, in the People’s Literature Publishing House edition

As in many parts of the West, September is a back-t0-school time in China, so literary classics rise easily to the tops of the charts.

This is the case, for example, for the sudden appearance of Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West on the fiction chart in no fewer than five of 30 top positions. How does this happen? These are five different editions, each from a distinct publishing house.

From the runaway hit twin-brother writing duo Yuan Ziwen and Zihao comes a fifth title, ‘Sorry, I’m Also New as an Adult’

Also note two titles by twin writers, the brothers Yuan, Ziewen and Zihao.

We’re given to understand that these authors are hailed in Chinese media as Peking University’s “most handsome” and “most inspirational” twins, and their books are about “the beautiful confusion of youth.” The sweetly titled Sorry, I’m Also New as an Adult is the newest of their five titles, released in August by China Friendship Publishing Company.

Each of these two fraternal authors is followed by more than two million fans on Weibo and have been wowing their readers on book-signing tours to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and other stops.

Their earlier hit, Journey Under the Midnight Sun, is also a ubiquitous entry on our monthly charts.

Another young author making the rounds of bookstores is Zhang Haochen, whose hit title is A Matter of Love from Tianjin People’s Publishing House.

August 2017 September 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 12 9787807619079 Jul-12 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en YUELU Publishing House
11 21 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 14 9787556232239 Aug-17 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King (18) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787556232222 Sep-17 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King (19) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 15 9787553806310 Aug-16 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en, Cao Can, Guo Yingde YUELU Publishing House
6 9 9787550013247 May-15 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787544762519 Dec-16 How the Steel Was Tempered Nikolai Ostrovsky Yilin Press
Not Ranked 19 9787544711678 Jun-10 A Sportsman’s Sketches Ivan Turgenev Yilin Press
Not Ranked 5 9787544545501 Dec-16 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en Changchun Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787544291163 Aug-17 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 29 9787544285148 Oct-16 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
1 1 9787544270878 Apr-14 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 7 9787544267618 Jun-14 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 4 9787544258609 Jan-13 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 17 9787544253994 May-11 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garc’a M’rquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 16 9787544246279 Apr-10 Rickshaw Boy Lao She Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 27 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press
13 22 9787536692930 Jan-08 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
24 10 9787530216781 Jun-17 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
9 11 9787530215593 Jun-17 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787530209455 Aug-08 Border Town Shen Congwen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
12 18 9787506365437 Jun-10 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 20 9787505741522 Aug-17 Sorry, I’m Also New as an Adult Yuan Ziwen, Yuan Zihao China Friendship Publishing Company
10 6 9787500601593 Aug-05 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
4 3 9787208061644 Apr-06 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
3 8 9787201120713 Jul-17 A Matter of Love Zhang Haochen Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787100119696 Jun-16 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en The Commercial Press Co.Ltd
14 25 9787020090006 Jul-12 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
22 2 9787020008735 Jul-98 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787020002207 Jul-98 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, September 2017

Da Bing’s ‘I Won’t’ is one of several of the author’s titles on education department recommendation lists this season in China

Nonfiction is heavily influenced in September by back-to-school dynamics, as well, we’re told, with yet another young writer, Da Bing, holding down three spots with I Won’t, Take It Easy, and May You–all from Hunan Literature and Art Press–courtesy of their listings on education department recommendation lists.

Da Bing’s books are loved for their stories of kindness, the messaging being about showing a benevolent energy, being gentle with oneself and with others. The author hosts shows on Shan Dong television, has a background as a folk singer, bartender, drummer, and backpacker, and projects an ethos of humanism. His books’ stories are called “heart-warming” by our interpretors of the lists.

August 2017 September 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
4 10 9787550263932 Nov-15 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
13 13 9787549564125 Apr-15 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
5 6 9787549550173 Jan-14 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
16 14 9787549550159 Jan-14 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 18 9787544768559 Jul-17 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean Henri Fabre Yilin Press
Not Ranked 5 9787544768535 Jun-17 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Yilin Press
Not Ranked 8 9787544729048 Apr-14 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Yilin Press
17 25 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre Yilin Press
Not Ranked 2 9787540482190 Aug-17 I Won’t Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
14 20 9787540482169 Jul-17 It’s a Long Journey Lu Sihao Hunan Literature & Art Press
19 21 9787540476892 Jul-16 Goodwill Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 27 9787540472238 Jul-15 May You Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 23 9787540468798 Sep-14 Take It Easy Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
8 19 9787539999883 Mar-17 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
18 30 9787535488473 May-16 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
11 17 9787535447340 Feb-14 The Poignant Culture Traveling Yu Qiuyu Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
Not Ranked 11 9787530213056 Aug-13 Recollections of West Hunan Shen Congwen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
2 7 9787508672069 Jan-17 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
9 22 9787508671505 Dec-16 Speak Well: Fresh and Interesting Speaking Skills Ma Weiwei, Huang Zhizhong, Zhou Xuanyi CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
3 9 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
6 1 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
22 4 9787201089140 Jan-15 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Tianjin People’s Publishing House
7 12 9787108042453 Sep-12 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 26 9787101113648 Jan-16 The Analects of Confucius Chen Xiaofen Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 15 9787101054194 Dec-06 Translation and Annotation of the Analects of Confucius Yang Bojun Zhonghua Book Company
28 28 9787020130719 Aug-17 The Reader (Vol.2) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
10 16 9787020130702 Aug-17 The Reader (Vol.1) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787020116379 Aug-16 The Long March (Revised Edition) Wang Shuzeng People’s Literature Publishing House
1 3 9787020116133 Jun-16 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787020083442 Jan-11 I and the Temple of Earth Shi Tiesheng People’s Literature Publishing House
Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, September 2017
August 2017 September 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.
3 2 9787208061644 Jun-13 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini USA Shanghai People’s Publishing House
2 3 9787544258609 Jan-13 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
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 Garcia Marquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 7 9787544711678 Jun-10 A Sportsman’s Sketches Ivan Turgenev Russia Yilin Press
7 8 9787559603340 May-17 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 9 9787544762519 Dec-16 How the Steel Was Tempered Nikolai Ostrovsky USSR Yilin Press
8 10 9787540455958 Jun-12 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 11 9787544291163 Aug-17 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 12 9787544285148 Oct-16 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 13 9787544277617 Jun-15 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 14 9787544760843 Aug-16 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte UK Yilin Press
13 15 9787544285643 Dec-16 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 16 9787544768795 Jul-17 A Sportsman’s Sketches (New Edition) Ivan Turgenev Russia Yilin Press
Not Ranked 17 9787544760782 Aug-16 Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift UK Yilin Press
Not Ranked 18 9787020123728 Apr-17 Fang Hua Yan Geling USA People’s Literature Publishing House
12 19 9787201116693 May-17 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
16 20 9787544277723 Jun-15 Tokio Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, September 2017
August 2017 September 2017 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787020116133 Jun-17 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
3 3 9787508660752 Feb-17 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
Not Ranked 4 9787544768559 Jul-17 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
4 5 9787544710817 Jun-10 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
5 6 9787514208788 Jul-13 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal USA Cultural Development Publishing House
6 7 9787535732309 Nov-01 A Brief History of Time Stephen William Hawking UK Hunan Science & Technology Press
10 8 9787308161459 Aug-16 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan UK Zhejiang Eniversity Press Co., Ltd
8 9 9787301109489 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
9 10 9787301110522 Oct-06 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
16 11 9787544760850 Jan-17 Michelangelo / Tolstoy / Beethoven Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
7 12 9787544762885 Apr-16 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff USA Yilin Press
Not Ranked 13 9787544731799 Dec-12 The Story of My Life Helen Keller USA Yilin Press
12 14 9787544711623 Mar-11 Francis Bacon’s Essays Francis Bacon UK Yilin Press
11 15 9787508650890 May-15 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson USA CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
15 16 9787300126210 Sep-10 Mao: A Biography Ross Terrill USA China Renmin University Press
Not Ranked 17 9787544761031 Dec-16 Stray Birds Rabindranath Tagore India Yilin Press
13 18 9787101054491 Feb-07 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang USA Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 19 9787508649719 Jan-15 Zero to One Peter Thiel,Blake Masters USA CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
19 20 9787514205039 Jul-12 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal USA Cultural Development 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.

Comments

    1. Author

      Thank you, Annette!

      At some point, we’d love to add that and other columns, yes. Work in progress. Many thanks for reading us and leaving a comment.
      All the best,
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson @PubPerspectives