China Bestsellers in May: Emotion and Promotion

In News by Porter AndersonLeave a Comment

Emotional content from a favorite author and strong annual ‘618’ promotions boosted China’s charts in May.

On a Beijing airport train, May 6. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Alexey Pnferov

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

TikTok Attention Coordinated Well With Promotions
In our look at the April bestseller charts in China, we focused on an interesting inflection point in which consumers seem to be waiting for new “online literature” to take to their hearts in book form.

‘Cries in the Drizzle’

In May, our associates at Beijing OpenBook saw the role of what they interpret to be emotional attraction and canny promotions.

As examples, Yu Hua’s Cries in the Drizzle (Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House) entered the fiction chart at No. 22 and Crystal Spiral (Nan Hai Publishing) by Keigo Higashino arrived at N0. 29, having just been published in April (Nan Hai Publishing).

As our associates point out, Yu Hua’s To Live (at No. 10 in May in a new edition from Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House) had benefited in 2018 by an endorsement from film star Yi YangQian Xi.

This year, e-commerce pr0motions began well before the June 1 to 18 shopping promotional period, so that by May book sales pros were approaching the annual “618” promotions as a chance to push Yu Hua’s book.

‘Crystal Spiral’

And the ability of Crystal Spiral to appear so quickly in China’s relatively slow-moving market rankings reinforces the fascination that the prolific Japanese author Higashino has for so many Chinese readers.

The key to Higashino’s work, OpenBook’s Wendy Pan points out to us, is his work’s high levels of emotional content. “Crystal Spiral is a detective work full of emotion,” Pan says.

“The work makes people feel that the detective element is less important than the emotional ties in it.”

In nonfiction, the OpenBook team observes that the humorous and illustrated Chinese-historical series—30 Minutes in Cartoon and If History Were a Group of Cats—have genuine staying power with the consumer base, the first with a remarkable half of the list, 15 of 30 slots, and the latter with five titles in the Top 30. Put another way, only 10 of 30 nonfiction titles in the May nonfiction list were not from one of these two illustrated series.

‘Su Shu’

OpenBook points, out, though, that one of that minority of non-illustrated 10 books in nonfiction was newcomer Su Shu by Huang Shigong, Ding Minxiang from China Overseas Chinese Press.

Its appearance, at No. 1, no less, had attracted the attention of fans on TikTok, as it turns out. That, combined with “618” sales promotions did the trick.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from May 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, May 2022
April 2022 Ranking May 2022 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
2 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
4 3 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
1 4 9787506331746 2005-05 Distant Savior Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
12 5 9787530219218 2019-02 A Wavy Life Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
6 6 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
5 7 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 8 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
8 9 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 10 9787530221532 2021-10 To Live (2021 Edition) Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
14 11 9787533966102 2021-12 Life and Death are Wearing Me Out Mo Yan Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 12 9787559455758 2021-12 Heliotrope & Zjz Ying Cheng Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
19 13 9787506368698 2013-06 The World Under the Sky Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
13 14 9787506344791 2008-12 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
7 15 9787515350264 2018-01 In the World (3 Volumes) Liang Xiaosheng China Youth Press
29 16 9787020164776 2020-07 A Late Bloomer Mo Yan People’s Literature Publishing House
25 17 9787020090006 2012-07 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
17 18 9787521200836 2018-08 Thiaoouba Prophecy Michael Desmarquet The Writer’s Publishing House
23 19 9787559614636 2017-12 Fang Si-Qi’s First Love Paradise Lin Yihan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
20 20 9787530221099 2021-02 Wencheng Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
11 21 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787530217962 2018-05 Cries in the Drizzle Yu Hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
16 23 9787530221396 2021-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) (2021 Edition) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
24 24 9787521208740 2020-01 Street Wizards (3) Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
22 25 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Shanghai Literature & Art Press
28 26 9787572602825 2021-08 Always Have, Always Will Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
26 27 9787506384209 2015-11 Street Wizards (2) Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787506394840 2017-04 The Heaven Trap Jiao Jian The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787573500977 2022-04 Crystal Spiral Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 30 9787555285298 2020-03 Hidden Love Zhu Yi Qingdao Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, May 2022
April 2022 Ranking May 2022 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787511320506 2012-08 Su Shu Huang Shigong, Ding Minxiang China Overseas Chinese Press
3 2 9787561346259 2009-05 Yi Ching is Really to Understand Zeng Shiqiang Shaanxi Normal University Press
1 3 9787544334792 2011-01 Close to The Buddha Khenpo Sherab Zangpo Rinpoche Hainan Publishing House
2 4 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi China Machine Press
Not Ranked 5 9787540876111 2021-06 Parents’ Language Yang Ying Sichuan Education Press
4 6 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 7 9787530848890 2010-01 Understand the Ways of the World Day by Day Zhang Yan Tianjin Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 8 9787557027063 2022-04 If History were a Group of Cats: Song, Liao, Jin Dynasty and the Western Xia Regime Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
12 9 9787222204331 2021-11 Details of Law Luo Xiang Yunnan People’s Publishing House
5 10 9787521733679 2021-09 The Most Tender Upbringing: Be a Gentle but Steadfast Parent Oh Eun-young CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 11 9787557025847 2021-11 If History were a Group of Cats: Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
9 12 9787208171336 2021-08 In the Affair: Chinese Government and Economic Development Lan Xiaohuan Shanghai People’s Publishing House
6 13 9787521603774 2019-08 The Faith as Premise of Freedom Luo Xiang China Legal Publishing House
Not Ranked 14 9787555714323 2021-01 Mother’s Mood Determines Child’s Future Shi Wenya Chengdu Map Press
Not Ranked 15 9787520813624 2021-06 Parents’ Language Li Yun China Business Publishing House
18 16 9787559313652 2017-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Xia, Shang and Western Zhou Dynasty Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
17 17 9787559330260 2018-06 If History were a Group of Cats: The Spring-autumn and Warring State Period Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
26 18 9787557024413 2021-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Prosperity of the Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
22 19 9787557017477 2019-02 If History were a Group of Cats: Qin, Chu, Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
20 20 9787539999883 2017-03 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
21 21 9787549632725 2020-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (5) Chen Lei Wenhui Publishing House
23 22 9787544387866 2019-09 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (4) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
25 23 9787544382052 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
24 24 9787544382045 2018-05 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
27 25 9787557020149 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: Three Kingdoms Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
29 26 9787557023041 2020-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Sui and Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
7 27 9787111691020 2021-09 The Underlying Logic: How to See the Essence of Things Liu Run China Machine Press
Not Ranked 28 9787557020132 2019-09 If History were a Group of Cats: The End of Eastern Han Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787557021856 2020-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Wei, Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
15 30 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, May 2022
April 2022 Ranking May 2022 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787570711888 2021-12 Ultraman Series Photo Book for 55th Anniversary Tsuburaya Productions Anhui Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 2 9787110103074 2022-02 Science Comics Loved by Pupils (4 volumes) Sunbook Popular Science Press
12 3 9787534633362 2005-05 Bronze and Sunflower Cao Wenxuan Jiangsu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 4 9787556864454 2022-04 Treasure Hunting in Inner Mongolia Jingding Comic 21st Century Press Group
4 5 9787521726473 2020-12 A Dog Named Money Bodo Schafer CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
25 6 9787521734416 2021-12 Kira and the Secret of the Donut Bodo Schafer CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
2 7 9787566720719 2021-06 Hundred Thousand Whys (Story Version) (8 volumes) Ling Lan Ma Ma Hunan University Press
5 8 9787559621337 2019-04 Butt Detective: Detective and the Fraud Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
6 9 9787550286122 2016-11 Butt Detective: Disappeared Popular Dessert Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
7 10 9787550286238 2016-11 Butt Detective: Look for the Rainbow Diamond Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 11 9787559608390 2018-01 Butt Detective: The Criminal Appears Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
13 12 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
9 13 9787550286214 2016-11 Butt Detective: The Missing Lunch Box Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
10 14 9787550286085 2016-11 Butt Detective: The Big Crisis of Small Director Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
15 15 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
16 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 9787547261682 2019-07 Children, Read for Yourself Yu Li Jilin Literature & History Press
17 18 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure of the Castle Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787513563703 2015-09 Pip and Posy Axel Scheffler Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press
14 20 9787020144587 2018-10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows JK Rowling People’s Literature Publishing House
11 21 9787511052568 2020-08 Butt Detective: Snow Monster in Deep Mountain Troll Dolphin Press
Not Ranked 22 9787536593749 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Game of the Wise Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787536593756 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Password Discovery Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787536593459 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: ‘Have a Meal’ Restaurant Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 9787536593442 2020-05 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Magic Lamp Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 26 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787573110930 2022-04 Psychology in Cartoon for Kids (5 volumes) Bai Mingyan Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd.
20 28 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
21 29 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
3 30 9787568290685 2020-11 The Classic of Mountains and Rivers for Kids Xu Pingping Beijing Institute of Technology Press

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, May 2022
April 2022 Ranking May 2022 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.
2 2 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
4 3 9787521200836 2018-08 Thiaoouba Prophecy Michael Desmarquet Australia The Writer’s Publishing House
6 4 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 5 9787573500977 2022-04 Crystal Spiral Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 6 9787540485337 2018-03 Tsubaki Stationery Store Ito Ogawa Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
7 7 9787208061644 2021-03 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 8 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 9 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
19 10 9787201112695 2017-03 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Germany Tianjin People’s Publishing House
10 11 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 12 9787541160912 2021-12 Fish Have No Feet Jón Kalman Stefánsson Iceland Sichuan Literature & Art Press
14 13 9787559614711 2018-01 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson Britain Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
13 14 9787544296274 2019-09 Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse Otsuichi Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 15 9787549637270 2022-04 The Namesake Atsushi Shimomura Japan Wenhui Publishing House
15 16 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
16 17 9787559641182 2020-07 Scream Aki Hamanaka Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 18 9787539983295 2021-09 Foundation (Revised Edition) Isaac Asimov United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
12 19 9787544291224 2017-08 After School (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 20 9787549565115 2015-04 Flowers for Algernon Daniel Keyes United States of America Guangxi Normal University Press

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, May 2022
April 2022 Ranking May 2022 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787111495482 2020-03 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi Japan China Machine Press
2 2 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Britain Tianjin People’s Publishing House
3 3 9787521733679 2021-09 The Most Tender Upbringing: Be a Gentle but Steadfast Parent Oh Eun-young Korea CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 4 9787508680965 2017-12 Predictably Irrational (Revised Edition) Dan Ariely United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
7 5 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 6 9787801445445 2008-01 You Can Heal Your Life Louise L.Hay United States of America China Astronautic Publishing House
5 7 9787521736816 2022-01 Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
4 8 9787511714152 2016-10 How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens will Talk Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish United States of America Central Compilation & Translation Press
6 9 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
12 10 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
Not Ranked 11 9787515902241 2012-07 Letters to Louise: The Answers are Within You Louise L.Hay United States of America China Astronautic Publishing House
18 12 9787108009821 2014-03 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
11 13 9787522200514 2021-05 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 14 9787111571544 2021-06 Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain Dana Suskind, Beth Suskind, Leslie Lewinter-Suskind United States of America China Machine Press
17 15 9787521719253 2020-08 The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) Philippa Perry Britain CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
13 16 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
16 17 9787111551287 2021-04 Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool United States of America China Machine Press
9 18 9787505737488 2016-12 What Life Should Mean to You Alfred Adler Austria China Friendship Publishing Company
20 19 9787559643346 2020-09 Blue Flame Yuzuru Hanyu Japan Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
19 20 9787115509543 2021-04 Efficient Memory Method in Brain Science Yuji Ikeguchi Japan Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House

 

Notes on the Charts

OpenBook is a privately owned industry-data research firm based in Beijing. It functions somewhat as Nielsen and NDP do from the West, and Nielsen Book Research International has worked with OpenBook in Asian operations. With authoritative data and information resources, OpenBook is able to deliver consulting service to partners who would like to explore the Chinese book market and identify suitable partners.

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.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

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 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.

Leave a Comment