China Bestsellers May 2018: Popular Philosophy and Faith in Love

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson1 Comment

Lessons in what one observer calls ‘the ability to get along with one’s own emotions’ lead the way in our May bestseller list from China.

Image – iStockphoto: CreativeFamily

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

Supportive Messages for Young Adults
The title to watch in the May bestsellers list from China, according to our Trajectory colleague Wendy Pan, is Sophie’s World by the Norwegian novelist and short story writer Jostein Gaarder in a newly published Chinese edition from Writer’s Publishing House.

‘Sophie’s World’

It’s a 1991 work of fiction that entered the OpenBook listings for the first time in April and now is seen rising seven spots in May to become No 12. Released in English in 1995 and said to have been translated into more than 50 languages and was given a film treatment in 1999.

Gaarder uses the devices of letters, questions, and dialogues to tell his story. Chinese readers, we’re told, are enjoying this fictional approach to an explanation of Western philosophical tenets.

Pan tells us that the Chinese readership is accustomed to popularly written forms of academic and theoretical content, coming at times under the umbrella of self-help books, which we last month discussed as finding a lot of favor with urban youth in China this year.

A new entry this month at No. 13 in the overall fiction chart—just behind Gaarder—is the popular writer Zhang Haochen’s Up to You.

‘Up to You’

It was released in May to coincide with the birthday of the author, the book is performing as expected, we’re told, as an immediate bestseller.

Zhang’s riding on the previous success of his Just for Meeting You, which carries emotionally supportive messages for young adult readers about having faith in love and being unafraid of affection.

The readers of Zhang Haochen’s work appreciate his reassurance that emotional satisfaction and authenticity are possible in what many of them experience as a very fast-paced contemporary life.

And meanwhile, in nonfiction, we find Chen Lei’s World History in 30 Minutes of Cartoons at No. 2 in May.

The book, a companion to Chinese History in 30 Minutes of Cartoons (No. 4), features what’s described as a collection of cartoons that cover “the rise and fall of world civilization and the divisiveness of political relations between many countries, all in a form of minimalist world history.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from May of bestsellers in fiction and nonfiction, followed by its lists of bestselling fiction and nonfiction in China by authors from outside the country, which are of interest, of course, to those who are looking to sell rights into the huge Chinese market.

At the end of our article, as always, you’ll find notes on how the lists are constructed.

OpenBook’s Overall Fiction Bestsellers in China, May 2018
April 2018 Ranking May 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787506365437 201006 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
2 2 9787544270878 201404 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 3 9787559608949 201709 I’m Waiting for You in Future Liu Tong Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
5 4 9787536692930 200801 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
7 5 9787536693968 200805 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
6 6 9787229030933 201011 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
3 7 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
8 8 9787530215593 201706 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
9 9 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
4 10 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 11 9787506344791 200812 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
20 12 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787201130903 201805 Up To You Zhang Haochen Tianjin People’s Publishing House
13 14 9787550024212 201709 Trespassers Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
14 15 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
24 16 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 17 9787530216781 201706 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
16 18 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 19 9787500601593 200508 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
22 20 9787020090006 201207 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
10 21 9787539971810 201504 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 22 9787506384209 201511 Street Wizards (2) Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
23 23 9787540455958 201206 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press
19 24 9787513312103 201306 The Seventh Day Yu hua New Star Press Co.Ltd
Not Ranked 25 9787556212743 201506 It Is You I Love Qiao Yi Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787556236633 201804 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King(26) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
29 27 9787539983295 201510 Foundation Isaac Asimov Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
28 28 9787506365680 201212 Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
26 29 9787559614636 201712 Fang Si-Qi’s First Love Paradise Lin Yihan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
18 30 9787544277617 201506 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, May 2018
April 2018 Ranking May 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
3 1 9787503561634 201708 Xi Jinping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
Not Ranked 2 9787559418111 201804 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
2 3 9787201094014 201509 Six Records of a Floating Life Shen Fu Tianjin People’s Publishing House
9 4 9787539999883 201703 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
1 5 9787550263932 201511 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
7 6 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 7 9787550268517 201607 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 8 9787540482190 201708 I Won’t Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
11 9 9787535488473 201605 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
8 10 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Hunan Science & Technology Press
14 11 9787559407634 201803 Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Jenny Lawson Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
4 12 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
10 13 9787201088945 201412 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
25 14 9787508086156 201511 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
5 15 9787108042453 201209 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
13 16 9787540468798 201409 Take It Easy Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
22 17 9787549550173 201401 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
15 18 9787540472238 201507 May You Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
12 19 9787540476892 201607 Goodwill Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 20 9787020130702 201708 The Reader (Vol.1) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
26 21 9787508684604 201801 Vision Wu Jun CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
16 22 9787540467784 201406 The Art of Speaking of Kevin Tsai Kevin Tsai Hunan Literature & Art Press
17 23 9787530216712 201704 A Unique Pig Wang Xiaobo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
24 24 9787549550159 201401 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
21 25 9787530214787 201704 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787020130726 201708 The Reader (Vol.3) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787020130719 201708 The Reader (Vol.2) Dong Qing People’s Literature Publishing House
29 28 9787533951092 201712 What is EQ? Li Xiaoyi Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
18 29 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 30 9787508682624 201710 The Decade of Surge with Big Fishes and Flooding Water Wu Xiaobo CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, Man 2018
April 2018 Ranking May 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544270878 201404 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
4 3 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
3 4 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 5 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
6 6 9787550024212 201709 Trespassers Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
7 7 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 8 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 9 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 10 9787539971810 201504 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
13 11 9787540455958 201206 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
16 12 9787539983295 201510 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
10 13 9787544277617 201506 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 14 9787544291224 201708 After School (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 15 9787539982830 201506 Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
9 16 9787532742929 200707 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 17 9787544760874 201610 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 18 9787544281102 201601 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 19 9787544258210 201710 Naoko Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 20 9787020138746 201804 Origin Dan Brown United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, May 2018
April 2018 Ranking May 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 2 9787550268517 201607 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
3 3 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
4 4 9787559407634 201803 Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Jenny Lawson United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
1 5 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
6 6 9787508086156 201511 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
8 7 9787508672069 201701 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 8 9787220102912 201709 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
11 9 9787108009821 199807 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
5 10 9787301109489 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
9 11 9787535733597 200202 The Universe in a Nutshell Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
7 12 9787301110522 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
10 13 9787514208788 201307 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
12 14 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
17 15 9787508650890 201505 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
14 16 9787544762885 201604 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
13 17 9787513903509 201411 Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore Britain Democracy and Construction Press
16 18 9787544760850 201701 Michelangelo / Tolstoy / Beethoven Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
15 19 9787550216495 201308 A Brief History of Time in Graphic Stephen W.Hawking Britain Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
19 20 9787559414311 201802 Buddhist Style: How to Be Happy Kusanagi Ryushun Japan Jiangsu 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 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. OpenBook draws point-of-sale data from a total 3,435 stores located in 1,410 cities. These stores include:

  • Traditional bookstores
  • Supermarkets
  • Campus bookstores
  • “Professional” stores, said to be small stores with a specific industrial or trade focus
  • Airport stores

In addition, OpenBook is drawing data from online bookstores of three main types:

  • The “Tmall” stores of Alibaba (Tmall is described as a marketplace of companies that create storefronts online to sell products including books)
  • The “JingDong” Stores of JD.com (similar to Tmall as a marketplace of both individual companies and bookstores operated by JD.com)
  • Ten independent online bookselling retailers

China has some 500 or more publishers in operation today. Most of them, Trajectory CEO James Bryant clarifies, 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. 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.

Comments

  1. Jostein Gaarder is a “he”.
    Best regards Klaus-Jürgen Liedtke

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