China Bestsellers: New Editions Buoyed October’s Fiction Market

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The October charts in China confirm that a new edition of a popular work can boost sales in a market that honors its modern classics.

On Jianghan Street in Wuhan, the October 1 National Day start to ‘golden week’ holidays. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Julien Viry

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Reissuing the Hits
In looking at the October bestseller lists from the Chinese market, our associates at Beijing OpenBook are pointing to the popularity that a republication can achieve for a book already long familiar to the consumer base.

‘Distant Savior’

In this month’s fiction listings, it should be noted that TikTok recommendations are seen as drivers in the case of Distant Savior by Dou Dou from the Writer’s Publishing House, jumping seven spots from its position in September to the No. 1 position on the overall fiction list in October.

But the phenomenon of a new edition’s power to move the needle is of more interest to the OpenBook team in October’s charts, as they point to Yu Hua’s To Live at No. 2 (Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House) and the perennial favorite in the market, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude at No. 3 in a 50th-anniversary edition from Nan Hai Publishing Company.

In fact, Distant Savior, while given a boost from TikTok enthusiasts, is a 2005 publication. And over time, one of the most reliable aspects of China’s bestseller dynamics is a firm loyalty to modern classics.

“The constant reprinting of classic or bestselling books,” OpenBook’s Wendy Pan tells us, “is a common phenomenon in the book market.

‘Ordinary World’

“With the update of an edition, there are often changes in cover design, binding style, and price adjustments. In recent years, with a normalization of discounts in online retail, the pricing level of the overall book market has continued to rise. Some books that continue to sell well have been on the market for a long time, and their pricing has been significantly lower than the current average. So publishers will choose to increase their pricing through reprints.

“Ordinary World in a three-volume 2021 edition, is on the list for the first time this month with a higher price point than in previous editions.

‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ in its 50th anniversary edition

“There are also some reprinted books that are commemorative or collectible editions, launched at special times. Common times are the anniversary of the author’s birth or death, the anniversary of the book’s publication, and so on. This month’s One Hundred Years of Solitude 50th Anniversary Edition is an example of this type of reprint.”

We’re also seeing a continuation of the online-serial-to-book trend, and in that case, nonfiction is more in play than fiction. The hugely popular 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon series of small books and If History Is a Group of Cats are examples in this area.

Also in nonfiction, we note that Counseling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure by Robert de Board (Tianjin People’s Publishing House) was in the No. 1 place in October for its fifth month running. Humor, clearly, seems to reign in these treatments of historic themes.

And there’s an extension of this in the children’s books bestseller list you’ll see below: 30 Minutes of Puberty in Cartoon has appeared at No. 3 on the chart, again from Chen Lei and his team (Tianjin Science & Technology Press).

And strictly in the physical stores’ channel (not broken out in our charts), you may be interested to know that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is now on the children’s chart, at No. 30.

It’s anticipated that the Potter canon will get a major boost from the arrival of the Beijing Universal Resort, which opened on September 20 reportedly with seven theme-park attractions related to Potter-ist enthusiasm.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from October 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.

OpenBook’s Fiction Bestsellers, October 2021
September 2021 Ranking October 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
8 1 9787506331746 2005-05 Distant Savior Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
3 2 9787530215593 2017-06 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
6 3 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 4 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
9 5 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
1 6 9787572602825 2021-08 Always Have, Always Will Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 7 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
11 8 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
Not Ranked 9 9787530221396 2021-06 Ordinary World (3 Volumns)(2021 Edition) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
2 10 9787559614636 2017-12 Fang Si-Qi’s First Love Paradise Lin Yihan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
15 11 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 12 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
16 13 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
14 14 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
18 15 9787530221099 2021-02 Wencheng Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
4 16 9787020008735 1998-07 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
21 17 9787555285298 2020-03 Hidden Love Zhu Yi Qingdao Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 19 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 20 9787530219218 2019-02 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
23 21 9787559455000 2021-06 First Frost (The End) Zhu Yi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
29 22 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 23 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
26 24 9787020164776 2020-07 A Late Bloomer Mo Yan People’s Literature Publishing House
30 25 9787550032071 2019-02 White Olive Tree Jiu Yuexi Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787559452788 2020-12 First Frost Zhu Yi Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
13 27 9787514226386 2019-12 One and Only Mo Bao Fei Bao Cultural Development Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787550032859 2019-07 You are My Desire Qi Jian Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787557024147 2021-09 FOG Man Man He Qi Duo Guangdong Tourism Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, October 2021
September 2021 Ranking October 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 2 9787511568687 2021-01 At the Turn of Xiajiang River: The Story of Chen Xingjia Chen Xingjia People Daily Publishing House
2 3 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
3 4 9787549632725 2020-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (5) Chen Lei Wenhui Publishing House
4 5 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
6 6 9787544387866 2019-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (4) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
5 7 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
9 8 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 9 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
15 10 9787557024413 2021-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Prosperity of the Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
17 11 9787559313652 2017-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Xia, Shang and Western Zhou Dynasty Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
18 12 9787559330260 2018-06 If History were a Group of Cats: The Spring-autumn and Warring State Period Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
7 13 9787020116133 2016-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
25 14 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Eiko Yamashita Hunan Literature & Art Press
20 15 9787557023041 2020-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Sui and Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
10 16 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi China Machine Press
Not Ranked 17 9787020135639 2018-03 I and the Temple of Earth Shi Tiesheng People’s Literature Publishing House
21 18 9787557017477 2019-02 If History were a Group of Cats: Qin, Chu, Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
13 19 9787213102615 2021-08 Centennial Party History in Cartoon: 1921-1949 Chen Lei, Chen Jin Zhejiang People’s Publishing House
11 20 9787547739549 2021-05 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Beijing Daily Publishing House
22 21 9787557020149 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Three Kingdoms Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
8 22 9787559418111 2018-04 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
24 23 9787557021856 2020-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Wei, Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
23 24 9787557020132 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: The End of Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
16 25 9787540484880 2018-01 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
19 26 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
26 27 9787559639134 2020-06 The Rise of China Jin Yinan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 28 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 29 9787559620125 2018-05 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version) (New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 30 9787208173316 2021-09 30 Minutes of Party History in Cartoon (1921-1949) 30 Minutes in Cartoon,Wu Bo Shanghai People’s Publishing House

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, October 2021
September 2021 Ranking October 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
5 1 9787556855339 2021-08 Treasure Hunting in Heilongjiang Jingding Comic 21st Century Press Group
6 2 9787558900648 2017-07 Winter of Three Hairs (With Chinese Pinyin) Zhang Leping Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 3 9787557694784 2021-08 30 Minutes of Puberty in Cartoon: Physiological Features Chen Lei Tianjin Science & Technology Press
27 4 9787536593749 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Game of the Wise Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
4 5 9787544288590 2018-06 Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window (2018 Edition) Tetsuko Kuroyanagi Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 6 9787536593756 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Password Discovery Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 7 9787536593442 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Magic Lamp Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 8 9787536593459 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: ‘Have a Meal’ Restaurant Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
2 9 9787531332091 2008-05 Xili Hulu The Little Pig (Vol.1) Sun You Jun Chunfeng Art & Literature Publishing House
1 10 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Tomorrow Publishing House
21 11 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
26 12 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787020144532 2018-10 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone JK Rowling People’s Literature Publishing House
20 14 9787521726473 2020-12 A Dog Named Money Bodo Schafer CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
10 15 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 16 9787536574380 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Who’s the Smart Guy? Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 17 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure of the Castle Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
11 18 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
13 19 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 20 9787531340065 2011-07 Xili Hulu The Little Pig (Vol.1) Sun You Jun Chunfeng Art & Literature Publishing House
12 21 9787536587700 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: My Good Friend Tie Tou Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
14 22 9787532767373 2014-08 Charlotte’s web Elwyn Brooks White Shanghai Translation Publishing House
24 23 9787531340058 2011-08 Xili Hulu The Little Pig (Vol.2) Sun You Jun Chunfeng Art & Literature Publishing House
25 24 9787536596313 2019-12 Mi Xiaoquan’s Idioms Comic Games Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
28 25 9787536587731 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Trouble of the New Deskmate Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
8 26 9787533299224 2018-10 Fantastic Mr. Fox Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake Tomorrow Publishing House
29 27 9787536587762 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: If I Have a Time Machine Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787536587755 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Secrets of Nature Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
30 29 9787536587748 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Lot of Fun Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
22 30 9787534618727 1998-07 The Straw Hut Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, October 2021
September 2021 Ranking October 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.
3 2 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 3 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
7 4 9787544267618 2014-06 The Devotion of Suspect X Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 5 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 6 9787539967363 2016-12 Dune Frank Herbert United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
6 7 9787544285148 2016-10 Malice Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 8 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
10 9 9787544297905 2021-06 The Nameless Town Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 10 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 11 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
4 12 9787208061644 2021-03 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
18 13 9787530217054 2017-12 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
11 14 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Not Ranked 15 9787201175133 2021-08 Anxious People Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
14 16 9787544281102 2016-01 Newcomer Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
16 17 9787201116693 2017-05 My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Fredrik Backman Sweden Tianjin People’s Publishing House
12 18 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 19 9787540485337 2018-03 Tsubaki Stationery Store Ito Ogawa Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
19 20 9787539983295 2015-10 Foundation Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, October 2021
September 2021 Ranking October 2021 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Britain Tianjin People’s Publishing House
3 2 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 3 9787508095226 2018-09 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
11 4 9787540489304 2019-01 Danshari Eiko Yamashita Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
2 5 9787020116133 2017-06 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
4 6 9787111495482 2020-03 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi Japan China Machine Press
9 7 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
12 8 9787540471194 2019-02 Relationship: Bridge to the Soul Christoper Moon Canada Hunan Literature & Art Press
6 9 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
16 10 9787508660752 2017-02 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 11 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
10 12 9787547734315 2019-09 Life is Worth Living Tsuneko Nakamura, Hiromi Okuda Japan Beijing daily publishing house
7 13 9787111635574 2019-10 The Working Methods of Kazuo Inamori Kazuo Inamori Japan China Machine Press
8 14 9787115536198 2020-05 Heart: Kazuo Inamori’s Philosophy of Life Kazuo Inamori Japan Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House
17 15 9787508633558 2012-07 Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kanneman United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 16 9787220114045 2019-07 Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T. Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
18 17 9787535732309 2001-11 A Brief History of Time Stephen W. Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
14 18 9787549635573 2021-07 Talkative People Talk Like That Moeko Ono Japan Wenhui Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 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 20 9787559647276 2021-03 The Willpower Instinct Kelly McGonigal United States of America Beijing Union Publishing 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.

Masked and getting a shot of the interior of the new Guangzhou metro line 18, which reportedly can operate at speeds up to 99 miles per hour. Image – Getty iStockphoto: NG Chiyui


More China bestseller reports from Publishing Perspectives are here.

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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