November 2017 Bestseller Lists from China: Literature and Current Affairs in the Spotlight

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This month, Chinese bestseller lists from OpenBook and Trajectory show some literary fiction highlights, as well as interest in current affairs.

In the Dong Cheng area of Beijing. Image – iStockphoto: SFE-co2

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

New Bestseller Charts
Trajectory and OpenBook have provided us with China’s bestseller charts for the month of November, based on OpenBook’s point-of-sale data. You’ll find explanatory notes about these charts after the fourth (of four) charts below. With the help Rainy Liu from Trajectory, we’ll also share several highlights from the November bestsellers. In case you missed it, we also have news this week from the Shenzhen Top 10 list in children’s literature.

OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, November

‘Look for My Sister-in-Law’

We have a chance to feature this month two recently bestselling authors, Liu Zhenyun and Yan Geling. While China’s readership enjoys the work of many popular celebrity young authors, these two tend to write more classically formulated literature, often steeped in social phenomena and personal perception.

Liu highlights Liu Zhenyun’s Look for My Sister-in-Law (at No. 14), a story of four strangers who live their lives in different places but are vitally—and humorously—connected. The original title has a reference to “melon-eating masses,” which alludes to bystanders at an event. The masses, the author tells readers, are more comfortably observing others’ experiences than they are at living their own.

And Fang Hua (at No. 19), Yan Gecen’s work, has been been adapted to film. His Someone to Talk To, published in 2009 and released as a film in 2016, was given the 2011 Mao Dun Literary Prize.

In addition, the month’s charts include the newly published Naoko by Japanese author Higashino Keigo (in our Foreign Author Fiction chart) and Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King (21) by Tang Jia San Shao.

Sep 2017 Ranking Nov 2017 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 Apr 2014 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787559608949 Sep 2017 I’m Waiting for You in Future Liu Tong Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
3 3 9787550024212 Sep 2017 Trespassers Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
5 4 9787208061644 Apr 2006 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
6 5 9787550013247 May 2015 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
4 6 9787544267618 Jun 2014 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 7 9787544291163 Aug 2017 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 8 9787556232208 Nov 2017 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King (21) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
13 9 9787530215593 Jun 2017 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 10 9787530216781 Jun 2017 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
12 11 9787536692930 Jan 2008 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
10 12 9787201120713 Jul 2017 A Matter of Love Zhang Haochen Tianjin People’s Publishing House
11 13 9787544258609 Jan 2013 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 14 9787535499639 Oct 2017 Look for My Sister-in-law Liu Zhenyun Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
8 15 9787500601593 Aug 2005 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
20 16 9787544285148 Oct 2016 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 17 9787020008735 Jul 1998 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
16 18 9787559603340 May 2017 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
15 19 9787020123728 Apr 2017 Fang Hua Yan Geling People’s Literature Publishing House
17 20 9787536693968 May 2008 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, November

‘Ask’

Hot-button issues are driving sales in China’s nonfiction market as in so many other territories in international publishing.

The portrait of Chinese president Li Jingping as a young man, Seven Years as an Educated Youth, is in the No. 1 spot, in part propelled by the energy of October’s 19th National Congress of the Communist Party. The Li book has a hardcover release, too, which has helped solidify its presence in the lists.

Another book riding the dynamics of political and cultural life is Ask by Ding Jie–like the three-volume CPC Ninety Years, it’s powered by party interest and enthusiasm.

Sep 2017 Ranking Nov 2017 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787503561634 Aug 2017 Xi Jinping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
2 2 9787540482190 Aug 2017 I Won’t Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
7 3 9787508660752 Feb 2017 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
4 4 9787508672069 Jan 2017 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
5 5 9787549550173 Jan 2014 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
3 6 9787020116133 Jun 2016 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
6 7 9787550263932 Nov 2015 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
13 8 9787540476892 Jul 2016 Goodwill Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
8 9 9787108042453 Sep 2012 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
14 10 9787540468798 Sep 2014 Take It Easy Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
18 11 9787540472238 Jul 2015 May You Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 12 9787020130702 Aug 2017 The Reader (Vol. 1) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
16 13 9787508671505 Dec 2016 Speak Well: Fresh and Interesting Speaking Skills Ma Weiwei, Huang Zhizhong, Zhou Xuanyi CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
15 14 9787549550159 Jan 2014 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
17 15 9787549564125 Apr 2015 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 16 9787503560620 Mar 2017 Ask Ding Jie Central Party School Press
Not Ranked 17 9787503561641 Aug 2017 Xi Jinping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth (Hardcover) Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
11 18 9787539999883 Mar 2017 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
25 19 9787514208788 Jul 2013 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
23 20 9787535488473 May 2016 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co., Ltd.
Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, November
Sep 2017 Ranking Nov 2017 Ranking ISBNv Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 Apr 2014 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787550024212 Sep 2017 Trespassers Claire McFall UK Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
4 3 9787208061644 Apr 2006 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini USA Shanghai People’s Publishing House
5 4 9787550013247 May 2015 Ferryman Claire McFall UK Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
3 5 9787544267618 Jun 2014 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
6 6 9787544291163 Aug 2017 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 7 9787544258609 Jan 2013 Journey Under the Midnight Sun Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 8 9787544285148 Oct 2016 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 9 9787559603340 May 2017 Home of the Sleeping Mermaid Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 10 9787020123728 Apr 2017 Fang Hua Yan Geling USA People’s Literature Publishing House
11 11 9787540455958 Jun 2012 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
15 12 9787539971810 Apr 2015 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin USA Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
13 13 9787544285643 Dec 2016 Salvation of a Saint Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 14 9787544253994 May 2011 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 15 9787544277617 Jun 2015 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 16 9787544258210 Oct 2017 Naoko Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 17 9787544291170 Aug 2017 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 18 9787532742929 Jul 2007 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787513326858 Jul 2017 Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie UK New Star Press Co.Ltd
17 20 9787544277723 Jun 2015 Tokio Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, November
Sep 2017 Ranking Nov 2017 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
3 1 9787508660752 Feb 2017 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
2 2 9787508672069 Jan 2017 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
1 3 9787020116133 Jun 2016 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow USA People’s Literature Publishing House
4 4 9787514208788 Jul 2013 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal USA Cultural Development Publishing House
Not Ranked 5 9787544768559 Jul 2017 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean Henri Fabre France Yilin Press
5 6 9787535732309 Nov 2001 A Brief History of Time Stephen William Hawking UK Hunan Science & Technology Press
9 7 9787308161459 Aug 2016 The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Peter Frankopan UK Zhejiang Eniversity Press Co., Ltd
6 8 9787301109489 Oct 2006 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol. 1) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
Not Ranked 9 9787508673158 Mar 2017 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus:A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
8 10 9787301110522 Oct 2006 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol. 2) L.S.Stavrianos USA Peking University Press
Not Ranked 11 9787508680231 Sep 2017 Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future Joi Ito, Jeff Howe USA CITIC Publishing House Co.,L td
7 12 9787544762885 Apr 2016 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff USA Yilin Press
10 13 9787508650890 May 2015 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson USA CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
11 14 9787300126210 Sep 2010 Mao: A Biography Ross Terrill USA China Renmin University Press
15 15 9787513903509 Nov 2014 Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore UK Democracy and Construction Press
Not Ranked 16 9787101052039 Aug 2006 1587, a Year of No Significance (Commemorative Edition) Ray Huang USA Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 17 9787501246113 Mar 2014 The Greatest Salesman in the World Og Mandino USA World Affairs Press
Not Ranked 18 9787508086156 Nov 2015 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD USA Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787800875830 Sep 1999 How to Win Friends and Influence Others & How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Kale Carnegie USA China Development Press
Not Ranked 20 9787540480615 May 2017 Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus USA Hunan Literature & Art Press
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.

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