China Bestsellers in April: Adaptations and Tours

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Three editions of one 2008 book were on OpenBook’s April bestseller fiction lists in China, powered by a new, touring stage adaptation.

An April view of the Qing dynasty summer palace at Chengde’s mountain resort, a UNESCO World Heritage site built between 1703 and 1792. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Thomas De Wever

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

Staging a Drama, Boosting Sales
If anyone in book publishing thinks that only a screen adaptation can surge a book’s popularity, it might be worth looking at the case of Street Wizards by Feng Jicai in China. This is a well-respected but hardly new volume of 14 “new folklores” that first appeared in 2008 and 2009.

‘Street Wizards,’ an edition at No. 12 (The Writer’s Publishing House)

When a new stage drama appeared this year, the book found new life among China’s bestsellers—and in at least three editions, no less. And one other factor played a role: the show toured widely, finding welcoming audiences waiting.

Our good associates at Beijing OpenBook tell us that Street Wizards, the drama, premiered on February 8 under the auspices of the Tianjin Municipal Party Committee. The production was jointly produced by the Northern Performing Arts Group, Dragon Century, Happy Twist, and Tianjin Renyi. Following a news conference, a tour began with stops in some of the major hubs including Guangzhou, Foshan, Wuhan, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuxi, and others, running right through the month of April.

With the stage adaptation gaining both the blessing of the author and the applause of avid ticket holders, the book—now in at least three editions–went right onto the fiction bestseller charts in April—where it had last showed up, in our records, on the January 2021 lists.

‘Street Wizards,’ an edition at No. 29  (The Writer’s Publishing House)

This triple-edition return to the charts in April saw the story collection Street Wizards holding down the spots at Nos. 12, 29, and 30.

To reinforce that power-of-tours notion, this time at the authorial level, you’ll see Ma Boyong’s Lychee in Chang’an at No. 1 in April. In that instance, the buoyance has to do with the writer doing “offline reader meetings”—in-person appearances—in many cities of China to talk with readers about his creative experience and how he works. Those personal appearances were accompanied by strong reader reviews online, clearly a good recipe for sales.

Never to be underestimated in the Chinese market—just as in Western markets—the title holding the No. 3 spot in April, Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume no Tojimari, benefited from what’s probably the most tried-and-true book-promotional vehicles of this era: the release of a film adaptation in April, bumping the book up from No. 10 in March to No. 3 in the previous month.

Before we move to the April charts—and we anticipate coming back to you quite soon with May’s lists, as well—we’ll just add that in April, the Top 30 in fiction showed significant overall sales increases over those similarly ranked books in March. And that boost in sales is credited to World Book Day, observed in China as it is in so many book markets on April 23.

‘Street Wizards,’ an edition at No. 30 (People’s Literature Publishing House)

In China, World Book Day features government agencies, educational institutions, cultural institutions, and various enterprises and institutions holding activities themed around reading. Lots of commercial promotions, book festivals, and other events often accompany World Book Day observances, all of which, of course, can put some energy into sales.

Many regular readers of our China bestsellers series with OpenBook won’t be surprised to know that World Book Day often puts extra emphasis on the relatively contemporary classics steadfastly collected by China’s consumers: you’ll find To Live in a 2021 edition and Red Crag once more serenely riding at Nos. 2 and 5 respectively, on the energy of World Book Day and their pedigrees as abiding consumer favorites.

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from April 2023 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, April 2023
March 2023 Ranking April 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787572608582 2022-10 Lychee in Chang’an Ma Boyong Hunan Literature & Art Press
4 2 9787530221532 2021-10 To Live (2021 Edition) Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
10 3 9787513350976 2023-01 Suzume no Tojimari Makoto Shinkai New Star Press Co.Ltd
28 4 9787533966102 2021-12 Life and Death are Wearing Me Out Mo Yan Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
5 5 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
2 6 9787513348744 2022-11 The Seventh Day Yu hua New Star Press Co.Ltd
6 7 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
15 8 9787573503053 2023-02 Swans and Bats Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 9 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
8 10 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
13 11 9787020139590 2019-06 The Last Quarter of the Moon Chi Zijian People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 12 9787506344791 2008-12 Street Wizards Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787530218792 2021-07 Life (2021 Edition) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
9 14 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
12 15 9787506331746 2005-05 Distant Savior Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
18 16 9787530219218 2019-02 A Wavy Life Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
20 17 9787505738478 2016-10 A Madman’s Diary Lu Xun China Friendship Publishing Company
3 18 9787573604309 2023-01 Knockout Zhu Junyi, Xu Jizhou, Bai Wenjun Qingdao Publishing House
14 19 9787521748239 2022-12 Goodbye Eri Tatsuki Fujimoto CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
11 20 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
21 21 9787530217962 2018-05 Cries in the Drizzle Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
17 22 9787530221396 2021-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) (2021 Edition) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
23 23 9787201112695 2017-03 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787533960247 2020-04 Frog Mo Yan Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
22 25 9787572602825 2021-08 Always Have, Always Will Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
16 26 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
24 27 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
27 28 9787533969608 2022-09 Destiny Cai Chongda Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 29 9787521208740 2020-01 Street Wizards (3) Feng Jicai The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 30 9787020160457 2020-01 Street Wizards (Full Version) Feng Jicai People’s Literature Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, April 2023
March 2023 Ranking April 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787558063183 2019-10 Continue the Chat Wisely Lin Sicheng Jiangsu Fine Arts Press
27 2 9787530848890 2010-01 Understand the Ways of the World Day by Day Zhang Yan Tianjin Science & Technology Press
7 3 9787222204331 2021-11 Details of Law Luo Xiang Yunnan People’s Publishing House
2 4 9787559664464 2022-10 Wish You Love Yourself Too Fang Qi Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
10 5 9787020084357 2011-04 I and the Temple of Earth Shi Tiesheng People’s Literature Publishing House
8 6 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi China Machine Press
9 7 9787559662170 2022-09 Oysters in the Shell are the Hearts of Adults Nini Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
24 8 9787801445445 2003-04 You Can Heal Your Life Louise L. Hay China Astronautic Publishing House
4 9 9787549629916 2019-11 Sales is to Play with EQ Wang Xiaoyi, Guan Peng Wenhui Publishing House
3 10 9787511320506 2012-08 Su Shu Huang Shigong, Ding Minxiang China Overseas Chinese Press
11 11 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 12 9787554617502 2021-06 Parent-child Communication Skills Training Li Jing Guwuxuan Publishing House
22 13 9787571315252 2021-01 Take Care of Children’s Spleen and Stomach Li Aike Jiangsu Science & Technology Press
17 14 9787542247209 2018-01 DUZHE (Essence) (vol.21) DUZHE Gansu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
16 15 9787542247216 2018-01 DUZHE (Essence) (vol.22) DUZHE Gansu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
19 16 9787542247230 2018-04 DUZHE (Essence) (vol.24) DUZHE Gansu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 17 9787542247223 2018-04 DUZHE (Essence) (vol.23) DUZHE Gansu Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
13 18 9787557028657 2022-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Southern Song, Jin and Yuan Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
6 19 9787520813624 2021-06 Parents’ Language Li Yun China Business Publishing House
15 20 9787513349369 2022-09 From the Limit: Correspondence on Feminism Chizuko Ueno New Star Press Co.Ltd
Not Ranked 21 9787520802130 2018-05 Be Their Own Psychological Doctor Mo Yu China Business Publishing House
12 22 9787572608377 2022-09 It’s A Long Journey Lu Sihao Hunan Literature & Art Press
28 23 9787559313652 2017-09 If History were a Group of Cats:
Xia, Shang and Western Zhou Dynasty
Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
14 24 9787555262800 2017-12 The Power of Insensitivity Junichi Watanabe Qingdao Publishing House
5 25 9787515830292 2022-01 Chinese Communication Wisdom Sun Yuzhong China Industry and Commerce Joint Publishing Co. Ltd
Not Ranked 26 9787559330260 2018-06 If History were a Group of Cats:
The Spring-autumn and Warring State Period
Fei Zhi Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
Not Ranked 27 9787572602603 2023-03 Insightful Yang Tianzhen Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 28 9787557017477 2019-02 If History were a Group of Cats:
Qin, Chu, Western Han and Eastern Han Dynasty
Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 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
Not Ranked 30 9787557024413 2021-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Prosperity of the Tang Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, April 2023
March 2023 Ranking April 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
3 1 9787218146768 2022-09 Manga Elementary School Student Psychology Han Tu Guangdong People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 2 9787549286492 2023-03 Introduction to the Civil Code of Comics Sen Ke Chang Jiang Press
Not Ranked 3 9787572124556 2022-05 Young Nie Haisheng Li Ming Changjiang Children’s Press
4 4 9787548047698 2016-11 Sun Tzu’s Art of War Sun Wu Jiangxi Fine Arts Press
1 5 9787218164434 2023-02 Manga Self-Management for Elementary and
Middle School Students (4 volumes)
Han Tu Guangdong People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 6 9787110104880 2023-04 Child, You Should Learn to Protect Yourself (4 volumes) Wang Weihao Popular Science Press
13 7 9787521739077 2022-07 The Grolltroll (4 volumes) Barbara van den Speulhof CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 8 9787573125873 2023-04 Funny Chinese Two-part Allegorical Sayings (10 volumes) Wang Runqin Jilin Publishing Group Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 9 9787521752762 2023-03 The Very Impatient Caterpillar Ross Burach CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 10 9787557029029 2023-01 Chinese Award-winning Picture Book Series (10 volumes) Chen Bochui, Sun You Jun,Z hou Rui Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
Not Ranked 11 9787572809026 2022-12 This Is Chinese Power Super Project Comes Young Lions Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
8 12 9787559621337 2019-04 Butt Detective: Detective and the Fraud Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
10 13 9787550286122 2016-11 Butt Detective: Disappeared Popular Dessert Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
11 14 9787559608390 2018-01 Butt Detective: The Criminal Appears Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
9 15 9787550286214 2016-11 Butt Detective: The Missing Lunch Box Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
12 16 9787550286085 2016-11 Butt Detective: Big Crisis of Small Director Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
14 17 9787550286238 2016-11 Butt Detective: Looking for the Rainbow Diamond Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 18 9787559467546 2022-09 Good Behavior: Those Little Things That My Grandparents
Taught My Parents, And My Parents Taught Me
Long Xiaotian, Cao Qun Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
15 19 9787511052568 2020-08 Butt Detective: Snow Monster in Deep Mountain Troll Dolphin Press
5 20 9787121387975 2020-09 Destroy This Book in the Name of Science! Mike Barfield Publishing House of Electronics Industry
21 21 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 22 9787521744569 2022-10 Meerkat Learns The Meaning Of Money Charlotte Dane, Adam Riong CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
23 23 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
16 24 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 9787533264062 2010-12 Let’s Get Mung Beans, Momma! Zeng Yangqing, Wan Huaguo Tomorrow Publishing House
24 26 9787536574380 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Who’s the Smart Guy? Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
25 27 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure
of the Castle
Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
17 28 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
18 29 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
19 30 9787536587700 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: My Good Friend Tie Tou Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, April 2023
March 2023 Ranking April 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787513350976 2023-01 Suzume no Tojimari Makoto Shinkai Japan New Star Press Co.Ltd
3 2 9787573503053 2023-02 Swans and Bats Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 3 9787521748239 2022-12 Goodbye Eri Tatsuki Fujimoto Japan CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
5 4 9787201112695 2017-03 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Germany Tianjin People’s Publishing House
4 5 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
6 6 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun
(2017 Edition)
Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 7 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 8 9787544296274 2019-09 Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse Otsuichi Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
12 9 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
Not Ranked 10 9787550020108 2016-12 Your Name Makoto Shinkai Japan Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 11 9787550033566 2019-09 Weathering with You Makoto Shinkai Japan Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
11 12 9787544269452 2021-11 Malice (2022 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
7 13 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
8 14 9787559614711 2018-01 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson Britain Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
20 15 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
14 16 9787513348362 2022-08 Look Back Tatsuki Fujimoto Japan New Star Press Co.Ltd
Not Ranked 17 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera
(3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition)
Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
10 18 9787506394864 2017-09 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
18 19 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
16 20 9787540485337 2018-03 Tsubaki Stationery Store Ito Ogawa Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, April 2023
March 2023 Ranking April 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi Japan China Machine Press
5 2 9787801445445 2003-04 You Can Heal Your Life Louise L.Hay United States of America China Astronautic Publishing House
2 3 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Britain Tianjin People’s Publishing House
4 4 9787513349369 2022-09 From the Limit: Correspondence on Feminism Chizuko Ueno Japan New Star Press Co.Ltd
3 5 9787555262800 2017-12 The Power of Insensitivity Junichi Watanabe Japan Qingdao Publishing House
6 6 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 7 9787511714152 2012-08 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
8 8 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline (Revised Edition) Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
9 9 9787520711531 2019-11 A Compass to Fulfillment Kazuo Inamori Japan Orient Press
11 10 9787521733679 2021-09 The Most Tender Upbringing: Be a Gentle but Steadfast Parent Oh Eun-young Korea CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
10 11 9787522200514 2021-05 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B. Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
14 12 9787515902241 2012-07 Letters to Louise: The Answers are Within You Louise L.Hay United States of America China Astronautic Publishing House
7 13 9787521741124 2022-04 The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness Eric Jorgenson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
19 14 9787521715637 2020-06 A Woman Makes a Plan:
Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success
Maye Musk Canada CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
16 15 9787111635574 2019-10 The Working Methods of Kazuo Inamori Kazuo Inamori Japan China Machine Press
Not Ranked 16 9787505745681 2018-12 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind Gustave Le Bon France China Friendship Publishing Company
12 17 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
Not Ranked 18 9787542669018 2020-06 The Memoir of Literature (1989-1994) Mu Xin,Chen Danqing United States of America Shanghai Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 19 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
18 20 9787521736816 2022-01 Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond 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.

At last report, OpenBook monitored more than 18,000 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 more than 4,800 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 2022, OpenBook tracked around 76.21 billion RMB in sales (US$10.62 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 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 registered through government channels. The government approves each book published in China.


More China bestseller reports from Publishing Perspectives are here, and more on the Chinese book publishing market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 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 (Fellow, 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.