China Bestsellers for September 2019: Patriotism and Back to School

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China’s September bestseller lists reflect celebrations of the People’s Republic’s 70th National Day and the opening of the autumn school semester.

On October 1, the People’s Republic of China observed its 70th National Day celebrations. Image -iStockphoto: Axz66

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

‘Educated Youth’

‘The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China’

On the approach to the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic on October 1, the September bestseller charts in China continued to be driven by patriotic themes.

Emphasizing the point, the most dramatic entry onto Beijing OpenBook’s main nonfiction bestseller list was The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China by Zhang Shiyi and published in July by Orient Press at No. 12. The book is described as a kind of guide book to the anniversary’s key elements, a part of the celebration’s program, with timelines and other illustrations.

Similarly, Xi Jingping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth, a long-running hit released in August 2017 by Central Party School Press, re-entered the charts in September at No. 19 in nonfiction.

‘Xi Jingping’s Seven Years as an Educated Youth’

But speaking of education, that was the other driver for the month, with back-to-school reading weighing heavily on the lists and a certain ancient philosopher seems to be the vogue of the first semester.

The two-year-old release Translation and Annotation of the Analects of Confucius by Yang Bojun from the Zhonghua Book Company was the eyebrow-raiser, bouncing up 19 spots to No. 1 in nonfiction. A second book on Confucius, Chen Xiaofen’s 2016 The Analects of Confucius from the same house, Zhonghua, entered the charts at No. 24.  (Analects are miscellaneous written passages, in case you’re not familiar with the term.)

‘Translation and Annotation of the Analects of Confucius’

Our associates at Beijing OpenBook tell us that China’s current educational reforms have a strong basis in traditional culture and its values, which helps support these entries on the list.

The classics, always strongly featured on these lists, also saw another boost from school season in September, with 13 of the Top 30 bestsellers for the month falling into this category, including big bumps for the 2005 edition of Red Crag (Luo Guangbin and Yang Yiyan, China Youth Press) and Journey to the West (Wu Cheng’en, People’s Literature Publishing House).

And lastly, it’s interesting to note that in September 2018, old masters in literary work were big on the classroom-powered fiction lists, while this September showed more contemporary interest, featuring, for example, a 30th-anniversary edition of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood from Shanghai Translation Publishing House entering the list at No. 29, and the 2012 Life by Lu Yao from Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House.

‘Norwegian Wood’

The key concept, we’re told, however, is a major curricular stress on literary work. State education is currently determinedly weighted toward the literary, whether classic or more contemporary, and as the school year kicks in, we can expect to see this dynamic playing out on the lists.

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 Bestsellers, September 2019
August 2019 Ranking September 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787506365437 2010-06 To Live Yu Hua The Writer’s Publishing House
18 2 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
13 3 9787020008735 1998-07 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
4 4 9787530216781 2017-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
3 5 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
6 6 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
5 7 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
7 8 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
8 9 9787544270878 2014-04 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
30 10 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
9 11 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 12 9787020008742 1998-07 Water Margin Shi Nai’an, Luo Guanzhong People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787020008728 1998-07 Romance of the Three Kingdoms Luo Guanzhong People’s Literature Publishing House
12 14 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 15 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
21 16 9787559620187 2018-10 Ran Freely Wu Zhe Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
23 17 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 18 9787530215593 2017-06 To Live Yu Hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
16 19 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
24 20 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 21 9787530217054 2017-12 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
28 22 9787506365680 2012-12 Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Yu Hua The Writer’s Publishing House
22 23 9787550032125 2019-02 Outcasts Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
26 24 9787550013247 2015-05 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
27 25 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 26 9787020110933 2015-12 Street Wizards (Full Version) Feng Jicai People’s Literature Publishing House
15 27 9787530219218 2019-02 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
29 28 9787530216774 2017-07 Ordinary Word Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787530211564 2012-03 Life Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

 


OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, September 2019
Aug 2019 Ranking Sep 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
19 1 9787101127867 2017-09 Translation and Annotation of the Analects of Confucius Yang Bojun Zhonghua Book Company
1 2 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
7 3 9787020116133 2016-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
2 4 9787540492380 2019-06 The Kids Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
3 5 9787509837412 2016-06 CPC Ninety Years (3 volumes) Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee Chinese Communist Party History Publishing House
6 6 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
20 7 9787540484880 2018-01 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (Commemorative Edition) Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 8 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
8 9 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
9 10 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
13 11 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 12 9787520710350 2019-07 The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China Zhang Shiyi Orient Press
4 13 9787201094014 2015-09 Six Records of a Floating Life Shen Fu Tianjin People’s Publishing House
5 14 9787559436184 2019-05 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
15 15 9787201088822 2014-09 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie Tianjin People’s Publishing House
11 16 9787559620125 2018-05 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version)(New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
14 17 9787549550173 2014-01 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
27 18 9787535447340 2014-02 The Poignant Culture Traveling Yu Qiuyu Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 19 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
17 20 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Hunan Literature & Art Press
23 21 9787530214787 2017-04 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787506376631 2014-11 A Good Mother is More Important than a Good Teacher (5 Million Volumes Commemorative Edition) Yin Jianli The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787201089140 2015-01 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787101113648 2016-01 The Analects of Confucius Chen Xiaofen Zhonghua Book Company
Not Ranked 25 9787544768535 2017-06 Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk Lu Xun Yilin Press
21 26 9787514219203 2017-09 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
16 27 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 28 9787201088945 2014-12 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
22 29 9787108063106 2018-06 We Three (Third Edition) Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 30 9787540481827 2017-08 Gag Reel Li Dan Hunan Literature & Art Press

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, September 2019
Aug 2019 Ranking Sep 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787208061644 2018-02 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
2 2 9787544270878 2014-04 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 3 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 4 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
4 5 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
8 6 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 7 9787530217054 2017-12 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
6 8 9787550032125 2019-02 Outcasts Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
9 9 9787550013247 2015-05 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
10 10 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 11 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
13 12 9787544277617 2015-06 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 13 9787544280020 2019-08 What Life You Want to Have Yoshino Genzaburo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 14 9787550024212 2017-09 Trespassers Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
15 15 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 16 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 17 9787559427434 2019-02 The Outsider Albert Camus France Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
18 18 9787539971810 2015-04 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 19 9787544760874 2016-10 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (New Edition) Jules Verne France Yilin Press
19 20 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press

 


Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, September 2019
Aug 2019 Ranking Sep 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.
2 2 9787020116133 20170-6 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
4 3 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
5 4 9787201088822 2014-09 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie United States of America Tianjin People’s Publishing House
6 5 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
7 6 9787514219203 2017-09 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
10 7 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W. Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
3 8 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
11 9 9787108009821 2014-03 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
8 10 9787521702415 2019-02 The American Trap Frederic Pierucci, Matthieu Aron France CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
9 11 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
18 12 9787508672069 2017-01 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
13 13 9787301109489 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
14 14 9787301110522 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
15 15 9787544768559 2017-07 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre France Yilin Press
Not Ranked 16 9787508650890 2015-05 Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
20 17 9787508692098 2018-07 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
12 18 9787544762885 2016-04 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
19 19 9787210094906 2017-07 The Scroll Marked Dale Carnegie, Yang Yi United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 20 9787514208788 2013-07 The Willpower Instinct (Hardcover) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House

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.

As of July 1, this data is estimated by OpenBook to represent some 60 percent of the total sales activity in China. OpenBook draws point-of-sale data from more than 7,000 bookstores in China, including a total 4,151 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 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.

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