China Bestsellers for March: Financial Savvy for Kids

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The children’s book bestseller list in China is currently led by the German financial coach Bodo Schäfer’s widely translated ‘A Dog Named Money.’

A young cyclist leads the way in Shanghai during the early stages of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020. Image – iStockphoto: Robert Way

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

Financial Advice for Kids
In our look at China’s bestsellers in March, we’re making a change to bring you Beijing OpenBook’s rankings on the Chinese market’s charting children’s books.

Having looked at illustrated books per se for several months, we’ve found that illustrated work is so concentrated in books for young readers (as happens in many other markets, too) that there’s more to be gained from surveying the children’s book rankings, which will include both illustrated and unillustrated work for younger readers.

‘A Dog Named Money’

In children’s books, the amusingly titled A Dog Named Money by the German author and financial coach Bodo Schäfer (Ein Hund namens Money) is standing at No. 1. This is a fast mover in China’s market, having been published by CITIC Publishing House in December and made its way to the top spot within three months. Credit for its quick success, our associates at OpenBook say, goes to vigorous promotion and marketing of the financial management theme.

An earlier edition of the book was released in 2005 in China, and the book hasn’t been fully out of sight since, occasionally romping back onto the charts. The book features Kyra and her talking dog Money

‘Ein Hund namens Money’

But today’s Chinese parents, we’re told, are seeing personal-economics headlines and hearing financial advice these days, so they seem to be interested in instilling an awareness of the theme in their kids. And Schäfer’s book has been translated into 30 languages and has sold more than 5 million copies, according to the author’s company.

Also of note is Bronze and Flower, a Hans Christian Andersen Award winner (2016) by a beloved Chinese writer, Cao Wenxuan, a May 2005 release from Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House.

Translated from Mandarin, the book tells the story of two children, the boy Bronze and the girl Flower, brought together by separate tragedies and becoming fast friends in poverty-stricken family life.

‘Bronze and Flower’

Our colleagues in Beijing refer to how classics, bestsellers, award winners, and generally famous books seem to attract parents as they choose books for their children—a trend seen in other cultures, of course—and recommendations for kids’ reading can be especially potent from professional institutions and from celebrities.

All of which adds up to the “evergreen” nature of many entries on the children’s book lists in China, like their adult-reading fiction and nonfiction lists, not necessarily given to rapid change and new arrivals on the literature scene.

The market’s adult fiction and nonfiction lists reflect the readership’s past fixations rather bluntly in March, as it happens, with Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem seemingly inevitably returning to No. 1 in fiction, and Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir yet again ensconced at the top of the nonfiction lists.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from March 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, March 2021
February 2021 Ranking March 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
4 1 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
Not Ranked 2 9787530221099 2021-02 Wencheng Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
6 3 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
5 4 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
3 5 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
1 6 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
2 7 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
10 8 9787555285298 2020-03 Hidden Love Zhu Yi Qingdao Publishing House
8 9 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 10 9787559452788 2020-12 First Frost Zhu Yi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
18 11 9787530215593 2017-06 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
19 12 9787506365437 2010-06 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
16 13 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
30 14 9787550032071 2019-02 White Olive Tree Jiu Yuexi Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 15 9787521210033 2020-09 Sit for a While Tea House Jia Pingwa The Writer’s Publishing House
12 16 9787530216781 2017-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
24 17 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
15 18 9787532178018 2020-11 Preparing for the Stage Li Dan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 19 9787550025103 2017-12 The Light in the Night Priest Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
21 20 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 21 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
27 22 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787559622099 2018-08 The Light in the Night (The End) Priest Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
22 24 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
Not Ranked 25 9787559621931 2018-06 The Light in the Night (2) Priest Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
9 26 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
11 27 9787500680239 2009-01 Pioneering Liu Qing China Youth Press
Not Ranked 28 9787020008728 1998-07 Romance of the Three Kingdoms Luo Guanzhong People’s Literature Publishing House
28 29 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 30 9787020008735 1998-07 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, March 2021
February 2021 Ranking March 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 2 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
3 3 9787549632725 2020-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (5) Chen Lei Wenhui Publishing House
5 4 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
6 5 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
4 6 9787544387866 2019-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (4) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
12 7 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 8 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
9 9 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
11 10 9787559640246 2020-04 Gag Reel (Signature Edition) Li Dan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
16 11 9787559639134 2020-06 The Rise of China Jin Yinan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
10 12 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 13 9787521210255 2020-08 The Tough Brilliance Jin Yinan The Writer’s Publishing House
17 14 9787540487850 2018-08 Guo Degang on Chinese Cultural History Guo degang Hunan Literature & Art Press
14 15 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 16 9787508689586 2018-07 Economics Lecture Notes Xue Zhaofeng CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
7 17 9787544771627 2018-03 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home (2018 Edition)(Hardcover) Fu Lei, Fu Min Yilin Press
21 18 9787108063106 2018-06 We Three (Third Edition) Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
19 19 9787544389372 2019-11 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon: Traditional Chinese Festivals Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
20 20 9787201088945 2014-12 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
18 21 9787540484880 2018-01 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (Commemorative Edition) Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
24 22 9787559436184 2019-05 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
23 23 9787559620125 2018-05 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version)(New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 24 9787020116133 2016-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 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
30 26 9787521708554 2019-09 Style Wu Jun CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
29 27 9787530214787 2017-04 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787540493653 2020-01 When They were Young: Poets of Tang and Song Dynasty Shao Nian Nu Ma Hunan Literature & Art Press
22 29 9787544771610 2018-03 Fu Lei’s Letters for Home (2018 Edition)(Paperback) Fu Lei, Fu Min Yilin Press
Not Ranked 30 9787536093171 2020-12 Abandon the Cat: When Talking about My Father Haruki Murakami Flower City Press

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, March 2021
February 2021 Ranking March 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
5 1 9787521726473 2020-12 A Dog Named Money Bodo Schäfer CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
1 2 9787534633362 2005-05 Bronze and Sunflower Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
2 3 9787559706522 2018-05 The Foolish and the Unhappy (With Chinese Pinyin) Ren Rongrong Zhejiang Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
6 4 9787533299224 2018-10 Fantastic Mr. Fox Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake Tomorrow Publishing House
22 5 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
25 6 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
9 7 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
27 8 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
10 9 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
14 10 9787536593749 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Game of the Wise Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
28 11 9787536587700 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: My Good Friend Tie Tou Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
17 12 9787536593756 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Password Discovery Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
13 13 9787536574380 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Who’s the Smart Guy? Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
15 14 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure of the Castle Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 15 9787536593459 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: ‘Have a Meal’ Restaurant Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
19 16 9787536593442 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Magic Lamp Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
3 17 9787534618727 1998-07 The Straw Hut Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
7 18 9787558900648 2017-07 Winter of Three Hairs (With Chinese Pinyin) Zhang Leping Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House
4 19 9787544288590 2018-06 Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window (2018 Edition) Kuroyanagi Tetsuko Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 20 9787536587762 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: If I Have a Time Machine Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 21 9787536587731 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Trouble of the New Deskmate Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787536587755 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Secrets of Nature Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787536587748 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Lot of Fun Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787536588103 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: The Future Me Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 9787536588110 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Undercover Deskmate Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
8 26 9787534256301 2009-09 Dreaming of Being a Wolf King (2018 Edition) Shen Shixi Zhejiang Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
20 27 9787543464582 2007-05 My Dad Anthony Browne Hebei Education Press
Not Ranked 28 9787536587793 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Comedy King Comes Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
23 29 9787543464575 2007-06 My Mum Anthony Browne Hebei Education Press
26 30 9787201077642 2013-01 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Tianjin People’s Publishing House

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, March 2021
February 2021 Ranking March 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.
4 2 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 3 9787208061644 2018-02 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
6 4 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 5 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
7 6 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
2 7 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
10 8 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 9 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
12 10 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 11 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 12 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
14 13 9787544280662 2020-03 Silent Parade Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 14 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 15 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 16 9787201116693 2017-05 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
19 17 9787555910749 2020-12 The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides Britain Henan Literature & Art Press
11 18 9787544775717 2019-06 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (New Edition) Jules Verne France Yilin Press
5 19 9787544774635 2019-01 How the Steel Was Tempered (New Edition) Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky Russia Yilin Press
Not Ranked 20 9787544270878 2014-04 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, March 2021
February 2021 Ranking March 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Britain Tianjin People’s Publishing House
1 2 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 3 9787111495482 2020-03 The Courage to Be Disliked Kishimi Ichiro Japan China Machine Press
5 4 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
4 5 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 6 9787111635574 2019-10 The Working Methods of Kazuo Inamori Kazuo Inamori Japan China Machine Press
7 7 9787540471194 2019-02 Relationship: Bridge to the Soul Christoper Moon Canada Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 8 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
6 9 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 10 9787115536198 2020-05 Heart: Kazuo Inamori’s Philosophy of Life Kazuo Inamori Japan Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House
Not Ranked 11 9787220114045 2019-07 Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
3 12 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
Not Ranked 13 9787111551287 2016-10 Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool United States of America China Machine Press
8 14 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
10 15 9787547734315 2019-09 Life is Worth Living Nakamura Tsuneko Japan Beijing daily publishing house
9 16 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd
17 17 9787020116133 2017-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787108009821 2014-03 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
11 19 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 20 9787521713305 2020-03 What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence Stephen A. Schwarzman United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd

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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 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 was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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