China Bestsellers: June’s List Welcomes Neil Gaiman

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The star of the danmei wuxia series ‘Word of Honor’ has catapulted a collection of Neil Gaiman stories onto the Chinese fiction charts.

Actor Zhang Zhehan in a publicity still for ‘Word of Honor.’ Zhang plays Zhou Zishu / Zhou Zi Su, co-starring with Gong Jun, left. His cryptic Instagram message on June 14 is credited with moving Neil Gaiman’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ anthology–published in March by Jiangsu Literature & Art Press onto the Chinese charts at No. 7. Image – Ciwen Meida, Youku, Max East

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

Star Power Propels Neil Gaiman’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’
In an unusual amount of change for China’s bestseller lists, nine books entered the charts in June—six titles appearing for the first time and three returning.

‘Smoke and Mirrors’

Neil Gaiman’s 1998 short story collection Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions. (This is HarperCollins’ 2021 English edition. Should you be interested in an audiobook edition, “Neil himself” reads the work here.) was published in March by Jiangsu Literature & Art Press and was understood to inhabit a niche appeal, as imported fantasy writings tend to do in China.

Not making particularly big strides in the market at first, our Beijing OpenBook associates tell us, the anthology in the late spring drew the attention of 30-year-old actor and Shanghai Theatrical Academy graduate Zhang Zhehan.

His work as Zhou Zishu/Zhou Zi Su in the television series Word of Honor has catapulted him to a new level of fame in the Chinese market this year. (Both Netflix and Prime Video from Amazon carry the 36-episode opening season with English subtitles, distributed by Jetsen Husashi Media.)

Just to be clear, Word of Honor is not a Gaiman piece. It’s based on a novel, Faraway Wanderers, by a female author who writes under the pseudonym Priest.

The work is based in two popular genres. One is wuxia, which revolves around ancient Chinese martial arts. The other is danmei, a term that means there’s an indulgence in beauty–specifically in male-male relationships. It’s typically targeted to female audiences but also is understood to be a form of expression avidly valued in cultures that don’t support more openly developed homoerotic themes.

Zhang, evidently having come across Jiangsu’s publication of the Gaiman anthology, on June 14 posted an Instagram message which contained four words relative to four short stories in Smoke and Mirrors.

Zhang Zhehan

Fans “decoded” the message—Zhang starred in a 2016 television mystery series called Decoded—and the resulting attention to Gaiman’s book led to quick sellouts across digital retailers in China.

Update August 16: Since this article was written on August 2, Zhang has come under intense state-media criticism and a reported loss of upcoming projects and lucrative brand endorsements. Around August 13, reports surfaced, including this Reuters article of August 14, saying that the actor had visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo in 2018 and 2019, posting photos of himself there on social media.

The Shinto shrine has long been a point of contention with East Asian neighbors of Japan because of Tokyo’s former colonization aggression (including the South Korean comfort women). The shrine commemorates those who died in wars in which Japan was involved and includes the names of 14 World War II convicted war criminals.

As Walter Sim at the Straits Times writes, Zhang has apologized and said that he was ignorant of the controversy around the shrine, the Chinese Association of Performing Arts has called for a boycott of his work. Companies that formally were in endorsement agreements with him have canceled. Those companies include Coca-Cola in the States and the Danish jeweler Pandora.

As Ju-min Park writes for Reuters in a separate article on August 13, even the Japanese defense minister was criticized this month by South Korea for visiting the shrine, and in 2013, Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe drew complaints from Beijing, Seoul, and Washington for making such a visit. It’s unclear at this point how much impact this political gaffe might have on the actor’s fan base or celebrity influence.

More Fiction Developments in the Charts

‘Personal Notes of Wu Xie’

If Gaiman’s book took top new-to-the-charts honors at No. 7, Nanpai Sanshu’s Personal Notes of Wu Xie was close behind at No. 10.

In the case of Nanpai’s book, the approach to the bestseller list was fast. The book was published in May by Jincheng Press and is a follow-up to another popular title, The Lost Tomb.

Our colleagues at Beijing OpenBook point to an artful use of such an existing fan base in two other works, The Mystery of the Alphabet (Henan Literature & Art Press) by Seiichirou Oyama at No. 18 and Aye (Chang Jiang Press) by Yin Luxing.

The Seiichirou work is new, and the author is sometimes called “the god of short story reasoning for very astute mystery constructions. Short videos have been used to promote this one to faithful mystery consumers.

‘Aye’

Yin’s Aye began its life as “online literature”—that’s digital-serial writing, of course—where it had the delightful title I Like Your Pheromone.

Our associate Rainy Liu, always perceptive on these subtleties, points out to us that while this book will of course be riding primarily on the popularity of its original digital-serial life (much as, say, Anna Todd’s After series has ridden on its original fandom at Wattpad), a radio-drama edition of I Like Your Pheromone/Aye has been avidly followed since January, with a second season introduced in April.

Utilizing popular actors to voice its roles, that radio drama’s two seasons, as Liu is explaining, created another layer of marketing force for the work, so that the arrival of the book edition from Chang Jiang Press served as an immediately welcomed extension of the brand.

’13 Steps’

Also new to the charts in June are 13 Steps (Shanghai Literature & Art Press) by Kazuaki Takano at No. 23 and Sour Plum by Huang San (Jiangsu Literature & Art Press) at No. 27, both doing well on the popularity in the market of campus-based themes for stories.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from June of bestsellers in fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, 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.

Actor Zhang Zhehan in a publicity still for ‘Word of Honor’ from Ciwen Media. He plays Zhou Zishu / Zhou Zi Su, co-starring with Gong Jun. His oblique Instagram message on June 14 is believed to have moved Neil Gaiman’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ onto the Chinese charts at No. 7. Image – Ciwen Meida, Youku, Max East

OpenBook’s Fiction Bestsellers, June 2021
May 2021 Ranking June 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
3 2 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
6 3 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
5 4 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
7 5 9787530215593 2017-06 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
11 6 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 7 9787559456021 2021-03 Smoke and Mirrors Neil Gaiman Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
2 8 9787530221099 2021-02 Wencheng Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
19 9 9787530216781 2017-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 10 9787515521763 2021-05 Personal Notes of Wu Xie Nanpai Sanshu Jincheng Press
15 11 9787506331746 2005-05 Distant Savior Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
12 12 9787559452788 2020-12 First Frost Zhu Yi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
8 13 9787550032071 2019-02 White Olive Tree Jiu Yuexi Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
4 14 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
17 15 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
25 16 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
18 17 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787555911425 2021-05 The Mystery of the Alphabet Seiichirou Oyama Henan Literature & Art Press
16 19 9787550032859 2019-07 You are My Desire Qi Jian Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
26 20 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 21 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
29 22 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Shanghai Literature & Art Press
14 24 9787555285298 2020-03 Hidden Love Zhu Yi Qingdao Publishing House
23 25 9787521210033 2020-09 Sit for a While Tea House Jia Pingwa The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787549276042 2021-05 Aye Yin Luxing Chang Jiang Press
Not Ranked 27 9787559451347 2020-09 Sour Plum Huang San Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 28 9787530219218 2019-02 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Shanghai Translation Publishing House
9 30 9787506344791 2008-12 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, June 2021
May 2021 Ranking June 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Tianjin People’s Publishing House
4 2 9787549632725 2020-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (5) Chen Lei Wenhui Publishing House
5 3 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
6 4 9787544387866 2019-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (4) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
7 5 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
8 6 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
10 7 9787559643926 2020-08 Master of Learning Li Zheyuan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
1 8 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 9 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 10 9787557024413 2021-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Prosperity of the Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
29 11 9787020116133 2016-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
3 12 9787572201882 2020-08 The Value Zhang Lei Zhejiang Education Press Co.,Ltd
11 13 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
17 14 9787559313652 2017-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Xia, Shang and Western Zhou Dynasty Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
15 15 9787557023041 2020-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Sui and Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
18 16 9787559330260 2018-06 If History were a Group of Cats: The Spring-autumn and Warring State Period Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
19 17 9787557017477 2019-02 If History were a Group of Cats: Qin, Chu, Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
21 18 9787557020149 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Three Kingdoms Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
20 19 9787557021856 2020-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Wei, Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
22 20 9787557020132 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: The End of Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
24 21 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 22 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Hunan Literature & Art Press
16 23 9787559639134 2020-06 The Rise of China Jin Yinan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 24 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi China Machine Press
14 25 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 26 9787511568687 2021-01 At the Turn of Xiajiang River: The Story of Chen Xingjia Chen Xingjia People Daily Publishing House
9 27 9787559640246 2020-04 Gag Reel (Signature Edition) Li Dan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
27 28 9787508689586 2018-07 Economics Lecture Notes Xue Zhaofeng CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
23 29 9787521210255 2020-08 The Tough Brilliance Jin Yinan The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787559436184 2019-05 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, June 2021
May 2021 Ranking June 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
3 2 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
5 3 9787536574380 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Who’s the Smart Guy? Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
6 4 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure of the Castle Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
7 5 9787536593756 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Password Discovery Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
4 6 9787536593749 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Game of the Wise Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
8 7 9787536593442 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Magic Lamp Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
1 8 9787534633362 2005-05 Bronze and Sunflower Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
9 9 9787536593459 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: ‘Have a Meal’ Restaurant Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
11 10 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 11 9787536587755 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Secrets of Nature Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
13 12 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
17 13 9787536587731 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Trouble of the New Deskmate Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
19 14 9787536587748 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Lot of Fun Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
14 15 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
16 16 9787536587762 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: If I Have a Time Machine Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
15 17 9787536587700 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: My Good Friend Tie Tou Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787544288590 2018-06 Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window (2018 Edition) Tetsuko Kuroyanagi Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 19 9787521726473 2020-12 A Dog Named Money Bodo Schafer CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
28 20 9787536587779 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I Have a Super Follow Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
20 21 9787536587793 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Comedy King Comes Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
24 22 9787536587809 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Cheers, Soccer Boy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
22 23 9787536587786 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Naughty Boy and Grandpa Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
25 24 9787536588202 2017-11 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Meet Mr. Cat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
26 25 9787536588196 2017-11 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: There’s a Little Prodigy in Class Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
21 26 9787536588110 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Undercover Deskmate Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
23 27 9787536588103 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: The Future Me Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
27 28 9787536596313 2019-12 Mi Xiaoquan’s Idioms Comic Games Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
30 29 9787558900648 2017-07 Winter of Three Hairs (With Chinese Pinyin) Zhang Leping Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House
10 30 9787534618727 1998-07 The Straw Hut Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, June 2021
May 2021 Ranking June 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 2 9787559456021 2021-03 Smoke and Mirrors Neil Gaiman Britain Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
3 3 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 4 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
Not Ranked 5 9787555911425 2021-05 The Mystery of the Alphabet Seiichirou Oyama Japan Henan Literature & Art Press
6 6 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 7 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 8 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
9 9 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
4 10 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
1 11 9787555910749 2020-12 The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides Britain Henan Literature & Art Press
11 12 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 13 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 14 9787208061644 2018-02 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 15 9787530221297 2021-05 The Virtual Clown Keigo Higashino Japan Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
12 16 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
7 17 9787544262705 2021-03 Thread of Hope Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
18 18 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 19 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 20 9787530217054 2017-12 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, June 2021
May 2021 Ranking June 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.
17 3 9787020116133 2017-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
3 4 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
10 5 9787111635574 2019-10 The Working Methods of Kazuo Inamori Kazuo Inamori Japan China Machine Press
13 6 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
4 7 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Eiko Yamashita Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
6 8 9787111495482 2020-03 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi Japan China Machine Press
5 9 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 10 9787540471194 2019-02 Relationship: Bridge to the Soul Christoper Moon Canada Hunan Literature & Art Press
18 11 9787508684031 2017-12 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
9 12 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
11 13 9787220114045 2019-07 Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
16 14 9787547734315 2019-09 Life is Worth Living Nakamura Tsuneko Japan Beijing daily publishing house
15 15 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
14 16 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
19 17 9787508633558 2012-07 Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kanneman United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
12 18 9787115536198 2020-05 Heart: Kazuo Inamori’s Philosophy of Life Kazuo Inamori Japan Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House
20 19 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 20 9787301109489 2006-10 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) 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 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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