China Bestsellers for May: Staying Power and Stalwarts

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson2 Comments

The resilience of a Scottish author’s popularity in China puts a third book on the bestseller list, and a Frenchman’s business book arrives as ‘The American Trap.’

At the Apple store in Nanjing East Road, in Shanghai. Image – iStockphoto: Polud Ziber

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

A Scottish Hit Gets Only Bigger in China’

‘Outcasts’

Lots of staying power and its rewards are on display in our May charts from the Chinese market, with four of the five newcomers to OpenBook’s overall fiction list this month being sequels to previous bestsellers and/or series:

  • Ran Freely (2) by Wu Zhe is ranked No. 5
  • Outcasts by Claire McFall is at No. 10
  • The Cat Emperor and His Friends (4) by Bai Cha is at No. 25
  • Douluo Continent (6) by Tang Jia San Shao is at No. 26
  • Street Wizards (Full Version) by Feng Jicai, is ranked No. 29

Among three titles returning to the list in May, that interest in classic works from English surfaces again—Jules Verne’s 1870 submarine-and-octopus adventure is back:

  • Street Wizards by Feng Jicai is ranked No. 13
  • Street Wizards (2) by Feng Jicai is at No. 21
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne is here published in a new edition from the Yilin publishing house is ranked No. 30
‘Ferryman’ Navigates China’s Charts

Our colleagues on our bestseller charts at OpenBook in Beijing point to the Scottish writer Claire McFall’s Ferryman series as a case of a work that has stood the test of time.

‘Ferryman’

The lead book in the series, Ferryman, first entered the fiction list in China in July 2015 and was at No. 1 by October of that year. The book then remained in the Top 10 on the list for three full years, racking up 47 consecutive months on the charts.

The second book, Trespassers, entered the list at No, 7 in September 2017. While not the shooting star the first book had been, it did stay on the charts for 15 months.

Now, the final book of the trilogy, Outcasts, has entered the list, having just been published in May by China’s Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House and going straight to the May bestseller list at No. 10. As happens in other markets, our associate Rainy Liu confirms that this third book can be expected to generate new sales for the first two entries in the series, and she anticipates the strongest gains to go to the first volume, Ferryman.

And even more drive should come into the picture with the cinematic treatment expected from Legendary Entertainment’s film adaptation with Keri Barker and Jennifer Foreman directing. Even as the film deal was being announced in January 2018, Dalya Alberge at The Guardian was writing that McFall’s name “is barely known in Britain but [the] Scottish teacher has become a publishing phenomenon in China where her debut novel for young adults has sold more than 1m copies over the past two years.”

‘The American Trap’ Springs Onto the Nonfiction List

‘The American Trap’

Even as Donald Trump is in Osaka for the G20 meeting—and Roberta Rampton is writing for Reuters for this morning (June 27) about his anticipated talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jingping—a book called The American Trap has popped up on the nonfiction chart, and yes, it’s a business book, of sorts.

As we read in Iris Deng and Celia Chen’s article for Inkstone News, French author Frederic Pierucci, formerly an executive with French rail company Alstom, wrote Le Piège Américain with Matthieu Aron for its January publication, and it was spotted on the desk of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei in photos of a press event.

The book was published in China in April by the major house CITIC, write Deng and Chen, “just as China and the US struggled to reach an agreement to end their trade war. Its Chinese tagline reads: ‘How To Dismantle Other Countries’ Business Giants Through Non-Commercial Means.’ It soon became the top-selling business management book on JD.com and No. 1 new title on Dangdang.com.”

The book is a personal account of what Pierucci says was his struggle with the US Justice Department, as part of what he writes is “more than $14 billion in fines paid by our [French] multinationals in recent years to the US Treasury.”

And it has arrived on the nonfiction list at No. 10. We’ll look to see where it goes on the June charts next month.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from (month) 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 Fiction China Bestsellers, May 2019
April 2019 Ranking May 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
4 1 9787506365437 2010-06 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
1 2 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
2 3 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
3 4 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
Not Ranked 5 9787221150639 2019-02 Ran Freely (2) Wu Zhe Guizhou People’s Publishing House
8 6 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
6 7 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
5 8 9787530216781 2017-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
7 9 9787544270878 2014-04 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 10 9787550032125 2019-02 Outcasts Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
17 11 9787530215593 2017-06 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
13 12 9787550013247 2015-05 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787506344791 2008-12 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
20 14 9787559620187 2018-10 Ran Freely Wu Zhe Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
10 15 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 16 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
9 17 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
21 18 9787530219218 2019-02 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 19 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
12 20 9787511360809 2016-06 The Wandering Earth Liu Cixin China Overseas Chinese Press
Not Ranked 21 9787506384209 2015-11 Street Wizards (2) Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
19 22 9787559427434 2019-02 The Outsider Albert Camus Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
18 23 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 24 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 25 9787020151271 2019-02 The Cat Emperor and His Friends (4) Bai Cha People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787556244386 2019-02 Douluo Continent Ⅳ (6) Tang Jia San Shao Hunan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
22 27 9787506365680 2012-12 Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
23 28 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787020110933 2015-12 Street Wizards (Full Version) Feng Jicai People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787544760874 2016-10 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (New Edition) Jules Verne Yilin Press

OpenBook’s Nonfiction China Bestsellers , May 2019
April 2019 Ranking May 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
4 1 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
2 2 9787503565397 2019-02 Xi Jinping in Zhengding Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
1 3 9787201088945 2014-12 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
3 4 9787201094014 2015-09 Six Records of a Floating Life Shen Fu Tianjin People’s Publishing House
6 5 9787559620125 2018-05 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version)(New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 6 9787514365641 2017-11 I Know What I Want, I Know How to Get it, and Do It Now. That’s All Yang’s Owl Morden Press
18 7 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 8 9787550025998 2018-02 Dong Qing: Be a Brilliant Lady Qiao Ruiling Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
15 9 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
28 10 9787549550173 2014-01 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
17 11 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
16 12 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
19 13 9787201088822 2014-09 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie Tianjin People’s Publishing House
14 14 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
21 15 9787535488473 2016-05 Walk Alone Freely Jia Pingwa Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
11 16 9787559401007 2017-04 Good Loneliness Chen Guo Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
9 17 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 18 9787503561634 2017-08 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 19 9787521702415 2019-02 The American Trap Frederic Pierucci,Matthieu Aron CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
24 20 9787540481551 2018-11 The Emotional Quotient Lesson of Kevin Tsai: Live for Yourself for One Time Kevin Tsai Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 21 9787549550159 2014-01 My Child, Just Take Your Time Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
5 22 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
22 23 9787511553645 2018-04 Good Love: Love Philosophy of Chen Guo Chen Guo People Daily Publishing House
8 24 9787508689586 2018-07 Economics Lecture Notes Xue Zhaofeng CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 25 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Hunan Science & Technology Press
23 26 9787220102912 2017-09 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki Sichuan People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787540467784 2014-06 The Art of Speaking of Kevin Tsai Kevin Tsai Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 28 9787549564125 2015-04 Dear Andrea Long Yingtai,Andreas Walther Guangxi Normal University Press
Not Ranked 29 9787514219203 2017-09 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
10 30 9787108063106 2018-06 We Three (Third Edition) Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company

Foreign Author Fiction China Bestsellers, May 2019
April 2019 Ranking May 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787208061644 2018-02 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
1 2 9787544270878 2014-04 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 3 9787550032125 2019-02 Outcasts Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
5 4 9787550013247 2015-05 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
4 5 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 6 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 7 9787559427434 2019-02 The Outsider Albert Camus France Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
8 8 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 9 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 10 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 11 9787544760874 2016-10 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (New Edition) Jules Verne France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 12 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
6 13 9787544277617 2015-06 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 14 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Version) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 15 9787550024212 2017-09 Trespassers Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
12 16 9787544384636 2018-09 The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler United States of America Hainan Publishing House
17 17 9787539971810 2015-04 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
20 18 9787539982830 2015-06 Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
16 19 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 20 9787201116693 2017-05 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House

Foreign Author Nonfiction China Bestsellers, May 2019
April 2019 Ranking May 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 2 9787201088822 2014-09 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie United States of America Tianjin People’s Publishing House
5 3 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
3 4 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
2 5 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
4 6 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
8 7 9787220102912 2017-09 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
10 8 9787514219203 2017-09 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
9 9 9787108009821 2014-03 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
7 10 9787508672069 2017-01 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
14 11 9787301109489 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
17 12 9787020116133 2017-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
15 13 9787301110522 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
11 14 9787508692098 2018-07 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
12 15 9787508650890 2015-05 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 16 9787521702415 201902 The American Trap Frederic Pierucci,Matthieu Aron France CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 17 9787514208788 201307 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
13 18 9787535796943 2019-02 Brief Answers to the Big Questions Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 19 9787544760850 2017-01 Michelangelo / Tolstoy / Beethoven Romain Rolland France Yilin Press
20 20 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan 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 has worked with OpenBook in Asian operations. With authoritative data and information resources, OpenBook is able to deliver consulting service to partners who would like to explore the Chinese book market and identify suitable partners.

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, 2019, this data 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, including a total 3,496 physical bookstores representative of all the provinces in China except Tibet, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Retail outlets 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 generate 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 China bestseller reports from Publishing Perspectives are here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

Comments

    1. Author

      Hello, Dr. Farrell.

      Thank you for reading us. We are a news medium and are not set up to offer advice to authors. I assume you’re a self-publishing author, so I’d recommend you be in touch with the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and you can find the organization at allianceindependentauthors.org Two other good resources, for both trade and self-publishing authors, are the Authors Guild in the United States ( authorsguild.org ) and the Society of Authors in the United Kingdom ( societyofauthors.org ).

      All the best.
      -p.

      On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson @PubPerspectives

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