China Bestsellers in January: ‘Autobiographical Fiction’ Sparks Debate

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In China, an interesting new fiction bestseller is mixed with nonfiction—and become a point of debate among Chinese readers. In illustrated books, a title for only children has a touching message.

On the banks of the Yangtze in Wuhan, a February 14 shot of citizens out for celebrations of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Ox. Image – iStockphoto: Julien Viry

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

Controversy Sells
There were six new titles on the Beijing OpenBook overall bestseller list in fiction in January, and in three cases, they moved quite quickly by this market’s standards, having been published within three months of their arrivals on the chart.

‘Preparing for the Stage’ by Li Dan

The six new Chinese bestsellers in January are:

  • Preparing for the Stage by Li Dan, ranked No.14
  • First Frost by Zhu Yi, ranked No. 17
  • Hidden Love by Zhu Yi, ranked No. 19
  • Street Wizards (Full Version) by Feng Jicai, ranked No. 23
  • Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) by Higashino Keigo, ranked No. 29
  • Beyond the Outline (2) by Mu Gua Huang, ranked No. 30

Li Dan’s Preparing for the Stage is a debut novella, its title also sometimes translated as something more cautionary, Wait to Come Onstage.

Some sales-boosting controversy has surrounded this one, in which author Li Dan uses his own name for his character who starts a talk show and builds a big showbiz life for himself. As it happens, the piece turns out to be something we might call autobiographical fiction, although that, of course, is a contradiction in terms.

‘Gag Reel’ by Li Dan

Written in a conversational, confessional style, then, the piece has caused some consternation among readers and critics who prefer their fiction and nonfiction to be kept apart. The unreliable narrator is an unreliable author, too, it turns out, and the debate about whether the book is “true” echoes a great deal of trouble many in the world today seem to have in keeping those things separate.

What complicates this is the associated re-entry into the nonfiction chart of Li Dan’s Gag Reel, catching the momentum of the fictionalized autobiography. This one is actual nonfiction and is based on a show of the same title, a program streamed online.

‘First Frost’ by Zhu Yi

Meanwhile back on the fiction list, First Frost and Hidden Love are companion pieces and they demonstrate a trend in marketing based on “online literature,” as the immense sector of Internet series writing is called in many parts of Asia.

Once a series has become a hit, a publisher will create a physical book edition of it, which is then bought by faithful fans as a collector’s item. The book is then flanked with other products including postcards, posters, and so on. What sells, in other words, is the merchandise.

Author Zhu Yi has a major presence in various social media and thus has been charting in online channels as well as with OpenBook’s wider rankings.

Regular readers of our China bestsellers articles know that Miracles of the Namiya General Store by the Japanese writer Higashino Keigo—hugely popular in China—is hardly new but has been brought out in a “2020 edition” with an attractive new cover.

Children’s Books: For the Only Child

If controversy helps drive the main fiction (and nonfiction) list in January in China, there’s a touching parallel in children’s books being noted this month by our good colleagues at OpenBook.

‘I Have Friendship to Rent’ by Fang Suzhen

Rainy Liu there points out that in China, most kids are only children—with no siblings. It was only in 2015 that the government adjusted the one-child policy, allowing families to have two children. “In addition,” Liu says, “many families live in apartment houses or other high-rise buildings, and there are fewer and fewer places to play. Therefore, many children don’t know how to meet new friends and get along well.”

The need for socialization has prompted Fang Suzhen to write I Have Friendship to Rent in which isolated children are represented by a sad gorilla. In a tale of patience and respect, the gorilla and a small mouse coexist, waiting for their friendship to get started. Surrounded by more potential friends—lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes, ostriches—the gorilla’s own shyness is compounded by theirs.

The key, it turns out, is sharing, and in reading the book, children are encouraged to look for their own nearby potential friends, a lesson that has helped the book win the Annual National Children’s Book Award. During the summer, it was added to reading lists for younger children and is now recommended by the educational system.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from January of bestsellers in fiction, illustration, and nonfiction, including bestselling titles in China by authors from outside the country—the international rights business at work.

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

The Coronavirus in China

In terms of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, much of the news involving China has to do with the coming report from the World Health Organization’s team back from its investigatory trip to Wuhan. Nick Paton Walsh and Sandi Sidhu are reporting for CNN that the preliminary report “will recommend more extensive contact tracing of the first known patient with COVID-19 in Wuhan, as well as the supply chain of nearly a dozen traders in the Huanan seafood market, which is thought to have played a role in the early spread of COVID-19 in late 2019, according to investigators familiar with the draft report.”

At this writing, the 9:24 a.m. ET (1424 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 100,774 cases in China’s population of 1.4 billion, with 4,833 fatalities.

OpenBook’s Fiction Bestsellers, January 2021
December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
7 2 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 3 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
2 4 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
3 5 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
4 6 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
12 7 9787530216781 2017-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 8 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
30 9 9787530216774 2017-07 Ordinary Word Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 10 9787500680239 2009-01 Pioneering Liu Qing China Youth Press
Not Ranked 11 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
16 12 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
6 13 9787506365437 2010-06 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 14 9787532178018 2020-11 Preparing for the Stage Li Dan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
10 15 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
11 16 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 17 9787559452788 2020-12 First Frost Zhu Yi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 18 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
Not Ranked 19 9787555285298 2020-03 Hidden Love Zhu Yi Qingdao Publishing House
9 20 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
8 21 9787020164776 2020-07 A Late Bloomer Mo Yan People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787544774635 2019-01 How the Steel Was Tempered (New Edition) Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky Yilin Press
Not Ranked 23 9787020160457 2020-01 Street Wizards (Full Version) Feng Jicai People’s Literature Publishing House
15 24 9787530219218 2019-02 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
20 25 9787020008735 1998-07 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
19 26 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
28 27 9787020008728 1998-07 Romance of the Three Kingdoms Luo Guanzhong People’s Literature Publishing House
18 28 9787521210033 2020-09 Sit for a While Tea House Jia Pingwa The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 30 9787514516906 2020-11 Beyond the Outline (2) Mu Gua Huang China Zhi Gong Press

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, January 2021

 

December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 2 9787544771627 2018-03 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home (2018 Edition)(Hardcover) Fu Lei, Fu Min Yilin Press
3 3 9787549632725 2020-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (5) Chen Lei Wenhui Publishing House
2 4 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 5 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
4 6 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
7 7 9787544387866 2019-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (4) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
8 8 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
9 9 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
5 10 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 11 9787557023041 2020-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Sui and Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
11 12 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
12 13 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 14 9787544771610 2018-03 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home (2018 Edition)(Paperback) Fu Lei, Fu Min Yilin Press
10 15 9787559639134 2020-06 The Rise of China Jin Yinan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 16 9787559640246 2020-04 Gag Reel (Signature Edition) Li Dan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
18 17 9787508689586 2018-07 Economics Lecture Notes Xue Zhaofeng CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 18 9787540487850 2018-08 Guo Degang on Chinese Cultural History Guo degang Hunan Literature & Art Press
25 19 9787540484880 2018-01 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (Commemorative Edition) Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
13 20 9787201088945 2014-12 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
24 21 9787108063106 2018-06 We Three (Third Edition) Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 22 9787544389372 2019-11 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon: Traditional Chinese Festivals Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
22 23 9787559436184 2019-05 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 24 9787530214787 2017-04 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
20 25 9787559620125 2018-05 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version)(New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
28 26 9787559435552 2019-09 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
29 27 9787532174997 2020-03 30 Minutes of Song Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Shanghai Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 28 9787540493653 2020-01 When They were Young: Poets of Tang and Song Dynasty 0 Hunan Literature & Art Press
23 29 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Hunan Science & Technology Press
14 30 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

OpenBook’s Illustrated Bestsellers, January 2021
December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author Nationality Chinese Publisher
3 1 9787543464582 2007-05 My Dad Anthony Browne United Kingdom Hebei Education Press
5 2 9787543464575 2007-06 My Mum Anthony Browne United Kingdom Hebei Education Press
6 3 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Ireland Tomorrow Publishing House
8 4 9787539135168 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I want to See the Sea Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
6 5 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Ireland Tomorrow Publishing House
10 6 9787539135182 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Want to Have a Star Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
9 7 9787539135151 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I will Get the Sun Back Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
12 8 9787539135137 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Love the Black Kitty Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
11 9 9787539135175 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Want to Have a Little Brother Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
13 10 9787539168999 2011-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Am Not a Coward Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
14 11 9787539135144 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Can Beat the Monster Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
17 12 9787539141992 2008-09 Les P’tites Poules: I’ll Find Langlang Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
19 13 9787539148076 2009-05 Les P’tites Poules: I Like Her Very Much Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
15 14 9787539188607 2013-06 Les P’tites Poules: I Love the Saucepan Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
16 15 9787539144542 2009-05 Les P’tites Poules: I Don’t Want to Be Eaten Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
18 16 9787539155937 2010-06 Les P’tites Poules: I Must Rescue B E Riot Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
2 17 9787539189147 2014-01 MIYANISHI’s Tyrannosaurus Series Tatsuya Miyanishi Japan 21st Century Press Group
Not Ranked 18 9787533273460 2013-05 Something from nothing Phoebe Gilman Canada Tomorrow Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787549253876 2018-08 Listenable Enlightenment Picture Book (60 volumes) He Yao China Chang Jiang Press
Not Ranked 20 9787559015266 2017-06 I have friendship to rent Fang Suzhen China Taiwan Region Xinjiang Children and Youth Publishing House
Not Ranked 21 9787533274245 2013-07 The Runaway Bunny Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hrud United States Tomorrow Publishing House
7 22 9787543464636 2007-04 No, David! David Shannon United States Hebei Education Press
Not Ranked 23 9787533255879 2008-03 New year’s reunion Yu Liqiong, Zhu Chengliang China Tomorrow Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787559633507 2019-08 Best Gift in the World Lai Ma China Taiwan Region Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
20 25 9787543470927 2008-10 David Goes to School David Shannon United States Hebei Education Press
21 26 9787521501773 2020-11 0-3 years old baby behavior management EQ picture book (60 volumes) Huang Qi China Knowledge Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787556012671 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Little Chick QiuQiu Helping Mother Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 28 9787556012664 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Little Chick QiuQiu Hide and Seek! Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 29 9787556012657 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Good night, Little Chick QiuQiu Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 30 9787556012633 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Thank you! Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press

Foreign Illustrated Bestsellers, January 2021
December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author Nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787543464582 2007-05 My Dad Anthony Browne United Kingdom Hebei Education Press
3 2 9787543464575 2007-06 My mum Anthony Browne United Kingdom Hebei Education Press
4 3 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Ireland Tomorrow Publishing House
6 4 9787539135168 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I want to See the Sea Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
4 5 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Ireland Tomorrow Publishing House
8 6 9787539135182 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Want to Have a Star Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
7 7 9787539135151 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I will Get the Sun Back Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
10 8 9787539135137 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Love the Black Kitty Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
9 9 9787539135175 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Want to Have a Little Brother Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
11 10 9787539168999 2011-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Am Not a Coward Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
12 11 9787539135144 2006-10 Les P’tites Poules: I Can Beat the Monster Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
15 12 9787539141992 2008-09 Les P’tites Poules: I’ll Find Langlang Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
17 13 9787539148076 2009-05 Les P’tites Poules: I Like Her Very Much Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
13 14 9787539188607 2013-06 Les P’tites Poules: I Love the Saucepan Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
14 15 9787539144542 2009-05 Les P’tites Poules: I Don’t Want to Be Eaten Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
16 16 9787539155937 2010-06 Les P’tites Poules: I Must Rescue B E Riot Christian Jolibois, Christian Heinrich France 21st Century Press Group
1 17 9787539189147 2014-01 MIYANISHI’s Tyrannosaurus Series Tatsuya Miyanishi Japan 21st Century Press Group
Not Ranked 18 9787533273460 2013-05 Something from nothing Phoebe Gilman Canada Tomorrow Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787533274245 2013-07 The Runaway Bunny Margaret Wise Brown,Clement Hrud United States Tomorrow Publishing House
5 20 9787543464636 2007-04 No, David! David Shannon United States Hebei Education Press
18 21 9787543470927 2008-10 David Goes to School David Shannon United States Hebei Education Press
Not Ranked 22 9787556012671 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Little Chick QiuQiu Helping Mother Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 23 9787556012664 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Little Chick QiuQiu Hide and Seek! Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 24 9787556012657 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Good night, Little Chick QiuQiu Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 25 9787556012633 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Thank you! Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 26 9787556012640 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Where is Mom? Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 27 9787556012626 2012-09 Little Chick QiuQiu Growing Up Picture Book Series. Good Friends Satoshi Iriyama Japan Changjiang Children’s Press
Not Ranked 28 9787533273477 2013-05 Diary of a Worm Doreen Cronin,Harry Bliss United States Tomorrow Publishing House
21 29 9787545533897 2018-02 International Master EQ Education Picture Book Museum. It’s nice to have a brother Susie Jan-Pierce United Kingdom Heaven & Earth Press
20 30 9787545534122 2018-02 Friend for Mole Nancy Almo United States Heaven & Earth Press

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, January 2021
December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 2 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
11 3 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
3 4 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
4 5 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
2 6 9787208061644 2018-02 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 7 9787544774635 2019-01 How the Steel Was Tempered (New Edition) Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Yilin Press
6 8 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 9 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 10 9787544775717 2019-06 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (New Edition) Jules Verne France Yilin Press
8 11 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 12 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 13 9787544280662 2020-03 Silent Parade Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 14 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
10 15 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 16 9787555910749 2020-12 The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides Britain Henan Literature & Art Press
12 17 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 18 9787544774666 2018-12 Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë Britain Yilin Press
18 19 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
15 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 Bestsellers, January 2021
December 2020 Ranking January 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 2 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Britain Tianjin People’s Publishing House
2 3 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 4 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
7 5 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
5 6 9787111635574 2019-10 The Working Methods of Kazuo Inamori Kazuo Inamori Japan China Machine Press
9 7 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
4 8 9787115536198 2020-05 Heart: Kazuo Inamori’s Philosophy of Life Kazuo Inamori Japan Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House
13 9 9787508687216 2018-08 Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty Abhijit V.Banerjee, Esther Duflo United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 10 9787220114045 2019-07 Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
20 11 9787508633558 2012-07 Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kanneman United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
10 12 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
12 13 9787540471194 2019-02 Relationship: Bridge to the Soul Christoper Moon Canada Hunan Literature & Art Press
11 14 9787547734315 2019-09 Life is Worth Living Nakamura Tsuneko Japan Beijing daily publishing house
Not Ranked 15 9787111551287 2016-10 Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise Anders Ericsson,Robert Pool United States of America China Machine Press
16 16 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
14 17 9787807639817 2013-07 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan Guangxi Science & Technology Press
8 18 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S.Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787301109489 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
Not Ranked 20 9787301110522 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University 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.

Jiang Boyan LLC advises authors and right’s holders on global intellectual property and investment opportunities.

As of January 1, 2020, OpenBook monitored more than 10,000 online and offline bookstores.

The online channel includes digital retailers such as large self-operated online stores, platform stores, and small- and medium-sized stores. The offline channels include 4,495 bookstores. Coverage includes most of the state-owned and influential privately owned bookstores in 30 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet are not included in OpenBook’s system.

In 2019, OpenBook tracked around 71.72 billion RMB in sales (US$10.1 billion).

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, Jiang Boyan 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. And more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is 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 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. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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