China Bestsellers for June: Self-Help and Hopeful Reads for Young Adults

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The charts from China for June show stable trends in popularity, with a big youth-reader hit riding again on top of fiction, and self-help continuing to hold its own among consumer interest this summer.

On Nanjing Road in Shanghai’s shopping district. Image – iStockphoto: Chameleon’s Eye

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

Bright Futures and Personal Improvement
A certified run is developing in our China bestsellers charts, as we note that in June, Yu Hua’s novel To Live from The Writer’s Publishing House held the No. 1 spot in fiction for a fourth consecutive month.

‘To Live’ by Yu Hua

Publishing Perspectives readers might remember that the book was given a big boost in the April charts when teen actor Yi YanQianXi—Jackson Yee to English-language fans—took to his Weibo social media channel to recommend the postmodernist title, which now has a strong following among young adults in China. The book’s message of encouragement is a powerful one for young Chinese readers who are presented with Yu Hua’s vision of them as a rising power for their country’s future.

The second-place spot as been overtaken by Liu Cixin’s science-fiction trilogy, The Three-Body Problem, up from No, 4 in last month’s rankings. Its three volumes, from Chongqing Publishing House, are The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End. English editions of the books, translated by Ken Liu and Joel Martinsen, have been out from Macmillan’s Tor for English-language markets for several years.

You are Bad

June’s top position in nonfiction was held by a newcomer to the list by the popular author Da Bing. The four new entrants in nonfiction on the overall OpenBook list are:

  • At No. 1: You Are Bad, the new book by Da Bing from Hunan Literature and Art Press
  • At No. 6: 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (Book Two in a series from Hainan Publishing House) by Chen Lei, whose work we discussed in our May report
  • At No. 12: Little Learning: To Solve Seven Anxieties in Your Life by Huang Zhizhong, and Zhou Xuanyi, Qiu Chen from Beijing Union
  • At No. 23: Liangjiahe by a group of authors, from Shaanxi People’s Publishing House

The new Da Bing title, You Are Bad, is the author’s sixth book, and he’s a writer who shares his own life story, then re-writes sections of it five years later to update his perspective and interpretations of his experiences. People enjoy reading these efforts, a kind of cyclical memoir.

The contemplative nature of Da Bing’s self-study is beyond the normal routines of most citizens’ lives, but many readers report enjoying his insights and in a sense feel they’re living a more thoroughly examined life vicariously through his writings.

The books Cixin Liu’s science-fiction trilogy are, from left, ‘The Three-Body Problem,’ ‘The Dark Forest,’ and ‘Death’s End’

Enduring Popularity of Self-Help Books

That interesting Little Learning title is also brought to our attention in June’s rankings, as an example of the abiding popularity of self-help books in the Chinese readership today. The OpenBook staff reports that such reads are among the most dependable on the country’s markets.

‘Little Learning: To Solve Seven Anxieties in Your Life’ by Huang Zhizhong, and Zhou Xuanyi, Qiu Chen

Additionally notable how-to literature includes Kelly McGonigal’s The Willpower Instinct (in a new edition from the Cultural Development house) is at No. 2 in our foreign author nonfiction chart, where it’s a fixture at one spot or another monthly. It was published in English in 2011 by Avery. Another from the foreign author group is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg at No. 8, from Huaxia Publishing in China and from PuddleDancer Press (2015) in the States.

In more self-help from China, that trend in hopeful literature for youth resurfaces in the book Stick With [Your] Dreams, Look Forward to the Future by Li Shanglong, another title from Beijing Union Publishing, at No. 25 on the OpenBook nonfiction chart for June. It’s described as a “youthful inspirational success title” and is a new entry in the rankings.

Also in nonfiction titles of interest, OpenBook’s Rainy Liu points to two books that aren’t new but are seeing fresh action on the market. At No. 21 is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, in a new version from Beijing Union Publishing. And Tang Jia San Shao’s Douluo Continent III, which is book 27 in the  “Legend of the Dragon King,” is at No. 27.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from June of bestsellers in fiction and nonfiction, followed by its lists of bestselling fiction and nonfiction in China by authors from outside the country.

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, June 2018
May 2018 Ranking June 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787506365437 201006 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
4 2 9787536692930 200801 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
5 3 9787536693968 200805 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
6 4 9787229030933 201011 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
2 5 9787544270878 201404 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 6 9787559608949 201709 I’m Waiting for You in Future Liu Tong Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 7 9787505742338 201712 The Cat Emperor and His Friends (3) Bai Cha China Friendship Publishing Company
17 8 9787530216781 201706 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
9 9 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
7 10 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
10 11 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 12 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
19 13 9787500601593 200508 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
16 14 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 15 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 16 9787020090006 201207 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
14 17 9787550024212 201709 Trespassers Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787559611567 201712 Platinum Data Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
21 19 9787539971810 201504 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
8 20 9787530215593 201706 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 21 9787559600813 201706 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Rachel Joyce Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 22 9787550293151 201612 Laplace’s Witch Higashino Keigo Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
23 23 9787540455958 201206 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy Hunan Literature & Art Press
12 24 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
29 25 9787559614636 201712 Fang Si-Qi’s First Love Paradise Lin Yihan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 26 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner (New Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787556229994 201806 Douluo Continent III: Legend of the Dragon King(27) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
30 28 9787544277617 201506 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 29 9787506344791 200812 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787020002207 199807 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House

OpenBook’s Overall Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, June 2018
May 2018 Ranking June 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787540487669 201806 You Are Bad Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 2 9787020116133 201606 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 3 9787510842344 201603 All the Lost Will Be Repaid in Another Way Geng Shuai Jiuzhou Press
3 4 9787201094014 201509 Six Records of a Floating Life Shen Fu Tianjin People’s Publishing House
1 5 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 6 9787544382045 201805 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
2 7 9787559418111 201804 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
12 8 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
8 9 9787540482190 201708 I Won’t Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
5 10 9787550263932 201511 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
4 11 9787539999883 201703 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Er Hunzi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 12 9787559613288 201712 Little Learning: To Solve 7 Anxieties in Your Life Huang Zhizhong,Zhou Xuanyi,Qiu Chen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 13 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
9 14 9787535488473 201605 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
15 15 9787108042453 201209 We Three Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
13 16 9787201088945 201412 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
19 17 9787540476892 201607 Goodwill Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
17 18 9787549550173 201401 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
16 19 9787540468798 201409 Take It Easy Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 20 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Hunan Science & Technology Press
18 21 9787540472238 201507 May You Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
29 22 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 23 9787224127232 201804 Liangjiahe Editing Group for Liangjiahe Shaanxi People’s Publishing House
11 24 9787559407634 201803 Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Jenny Lawson Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 25 9787559608789 201708 Stick with Dreams, Look Forward to Future Li Shanglong Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
14 26 9787508086156 201511 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787508672069 201701 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 28 9787549564125 201504 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai,Andreas Walther Guangxi Normal University Press
24 29 9787549550159 201401 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
25 30 9787530214787 201704 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, June 2018
May 2018 Ranking June 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.
3 2 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
7 3 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 4 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 5 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 6 9787550293151 201612 Laplace’s Witch Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
4 7 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 8 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
6 9 9787550024212 201709 Trespassers Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
8 10 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 11 9787539983295 201510 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
10 12 9787539971810 201504 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
11 13 9787540455958 201206 The Shadow Thief Marc Levy France Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 14 9787539967431 201403 The Sicilian Mario Puzo United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
13 15 9787544277617 201506 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 16 9787530217054 201712 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 17 9787544291224 201708 After School (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 18 9787530217559 201711 The Murder in Mansion Masquerade Higashino Keigo Japan Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
16 19 9787532742929 200707 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
15 20 9787539982830 201506 Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, June 2018
May 2018 Ranking June 2018 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787020116133 201606 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
5 2 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
14 3 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
3 4 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
9 5 9787108009821 199807 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
1 6 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
8 7 9787220102912 201709 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
6 8 9787508086156 201511 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
7 9 9787508672069 201701 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 10 9787544292498 201804 What is There to Do in Laos? Haruki Murakami Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 11 9787514208788 201307 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
4 12 9787559407634 201803 Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things Jenny Lawson United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
10 13 9787301109489 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
12 14 9787301110522 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
16 15 9787544762885 201604 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
11 16 9787535733597 200202 The Universe in a Nutshell Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 17 9787544768559 201707 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 18 9787510855832 201709 100 Basics of Work & Life Matsuura Yataro Japan Jiuzhou Press
15 19 9787508650890 201505 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
17 20 9787513903509 201411 Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore Britain Democracy and Construction 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. As an authoritative data and information resource in China, OpenBook offers consulting services to partners exploring the Chinese book market and hoping to identify suitable business partners in the Chinese market.

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. Trajectory recently has added copyright services, both for content going into China and for exports from China to the rest of the world.

Up until July 1, the data behind these bestseller reports has been estimated by OpenBook to represent some 50 percent of the total sales activity in China. OpenBook draws point-of-sale data from more than 6,000 bookstores in China. Included in those reporting points are a total 3,496 physical bookstores in Chinese provinces and territories with the exceptions of Tibet, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. Physical retailers 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.


More of China bestseller reports from Publishing Perspectives are here.

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.

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