OpenBook Managing Director Cites 14.55 Percent Growth in Chinese Book Market

In News by Porter Anderson

Figures from OpenBook’s ‘Reading X’ conference show that promising growth for the market, including a big uptick in online book sales in 2017.

OpenBook managing director Yanping Jiang speaks at the January 10 ‘Reading X’ conference. Image: OpenBook Media Group

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

In addition to releasing its list of 2017 bestsellers in China, OpenBook shared several highlights from 2017’s Chinese book market to share with us today.

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.

The annual OpenBook Conference called “Reading X” was held on January 10. At Reading X, OpenBook’s general manager, Yanping Jiang, provided a series of data points on the Chinese market.

OpenBook cites these observations from its presentation at this month’s conference:

  • China’s retail book market in 2017 expanded at a rate of 14.55 percent, year over year.
  • Children’s books were again the main driver of market growth.
  • The children’s book sector accounts for more than a third of the overall growth in China’s market in 2017.
  • Sales tracked through online booksellers grew at 28.82 percent, year over year.
  • China’s brick-and-mortar bookstores were seen to have turned a corner: in 2016, their sales had slipped by 2.3 percent, while in 2017, they moved back into positive territory at 2.33 percent—in short returning to their 2015 level and reversing the decline of 2016.

OpenBook’s personnel tell us that the company has been actively engaged in expanding its coverage of the online and physical bookselling space in China. As of January 1, the company was tracking more than 6,000 sales outlets of both kinds. And as regards our monthly bestseller lists from China here at Publishing Perspectives, it’s interesting to learn from OpenBook that the top 1 percent of bestselling titles in 2017 accounted for what OpenBook cites as 51.7 percent of overall book market sales in China.

As is evident in the chart below, this trend can be seen following a steady, gentle progression from 43.73 percent in 2014 through 2017 with its 51.7 percent last year in OpenBook’s analysis.

Image: Provided by OpenBook

In addition to Jiang Yanping’s observations, the conference also featured an address from OpenBook CEO Jiang Xiliang, who framed the future of bookstores in China as being “gateways to urban communication and cultural consumption.”

His concept of the stores of the future is not entirely unlike that of Amazon Bookstores, the physical retail facilities being rolled out in the United States, which are tightly integrated at the physical level with the company’s fundamental position as an online retailer.

And as regards Amazon, here is Amazon China’s look at 10 bestsellers in 2017, a list that includes print and Kindle editions, as reported by Li Ping at China Daily.

Amazon’s designation of author Jia Pingwa as 2017’s “most influential Chinese author overseas”—following AmazonCrossing’s translation of his Happy Dreams into English by Nicky Harman—is mentioned by China Daily here.

Jia is represented by his Walk Alone Freely at No. 8 on our OpenBook nonfiction 2017 Chinese bestsellers list.

OpenBook CEO Jiang Xiliang speaks at the January 10 ‘Reading X’ conference. Image: OpenBook Media Group

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.