China Bestsellers December: Legal-Issues Nonfiction

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Normally slow-moving, bestseller charts in China highlighted nonfiction on legal issues in December.

In Shanghai, a storefront packed with Western Christmas holiday-style decor. China’s Spring Festival starts this year on the Lunar New Year, February 10. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Ninel Roshchina

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

Legal Perspectives and Policy Strategies
The bestseller charts put together by our associates at Beijing OpenBook for December showed even less movement in fiction than in other time frames, with 26 of the Top 30 coming over from November.

‘Details of Law’

In nonfiction, however, our analysts are seeing an interesting development. The nonfiction sector is For one thing, the Top 30 nonfiction chart was infused with no fewer than 10 new titles, a rare incursion of new material in a single month’s time in this slow-moving market. Those new titles include:

  • Three Hundred Tang Poems: Detailed Analysis
  • Behave With Propriety: The Underlying Logic That Transcends Social Circles
  • Sima Yi: An Endurable Winner
  • We All Live in Disparity
  • Paradoxes In Law
  • Sima Yi: From Obscurity To Final Winner
  • Also Winter, Also Spring
  • Winner’s Method: The Way Of Learning Through Capital
  • The Book of Magic Answers
  • History In Details

‘Paradoxes of Law’

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Chinese market for some time has shown a growing interest in self-development content, much of it following typical topical directions of interpersonal relationship and strategies for personal success. But in this case, content involving law and legal activity have bounded into view.

Author Luo Xiang, a professor of political science and law at China University of Political Science and Law, has drawn a large following for his public course on judicial examination.

And Paradoxes in Law, released on December 16, looks at 14 instances of “classic opposite cases” but is one of three charting books from two publishers.

‘The Faith as Premise of Freedom’

Despite those clean, white cover-art designs signal common concepts:

  • Paradoxes in Law is  from Yunnan People’s Publishing House.
  • The Faith as Premise of Freedom is from China Legal Publishing House.
  • And Details of  History is, like the newer Paradoxes, a title from Yunnan People’s publishing House.

Also in the nonfiction field, OpenBook points to “social answers from traditional culture” as a trend to watch, represented by Sima Yi: An Endurable Winner and Sima Yi: From Obscurity To Final Winner based on the Wei Dynasty scholar, politician and strategist.

This is a case of two books again from two authors and houses, Liang Yue Man Tian at China Zhi Gong Press, and Zhang Yan at Baihua Literature & Art Publishing House.

‘Sima Yi: An Endurable Winner,’ left, and ‘Sima Yi: From Obscurity to Final Winner’

Below, then, are OpenBook’s overall lists from December 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, December 2023
November 2023 Ranking December 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787020139590 2019-06 The Last Quarter of the Moon Chi Zijian People’s Literature Publishing House
2 2 9787530221532 2021-10 To Live (2021 Edition) Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
3 3 9787572608582 2022-10 The Litchi Road Ma Boyong Hunan Literature & Art Press
4 4 9787536097261 2022-07 Someone to Talk To Liu Zhenyun Flower City Press
6 5 9787201141527 2018-10 Strait is the Gate Andre Gide Tianjin People’s Publishing House
14 6 9787530221396 2021-06 Ordinary Word (3 Volumes) (2021 Edition) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
7 7 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 8 9787513348744 2022-11 The Seventh Day Yu hua New Star Press Co., Ltd.
9 9 9787536692930 2008-01 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
12 10 9787500601593 2005-08 Red Crag Luo Guangbin, Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
8 11 9787572610912 2023-05 The Annoyance of the Gods Ma Boyong Hunan Literature & Art Press
10 12 9787536693968 2008-05 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
11 13 9787229030933 2010-11 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
17 14 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yilin Press
16 15 9787530222454 2023-06 Cries in the drizzle Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
15 16 9787530216033 2017-09 Chronicle of a Blood Merchant (2017 Edition) Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
13 17 9787540487645 2018-06 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
23 18 9787530221525 2021-07 The Wavy Water Yan Zhen Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
18 19 9787506331746 2005-05 Distant Savior Dou Dou The Writer’s Publishing House
25 20 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 21 9787201112695 2017-03 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Tianjin People’s Publishing House
28 22 9787020002207 1998-07 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787505738478 2016-10 A Madman’s Diary Lu Xun China Friendship Publishing Company
22 24 9787533966102 2021-12 Life and Death are Wearing Me Out Mo Yan Zhejiang Literature & Art Press
21 25 9787020178063 2023-04 Notes on Principles Shi Tiesheng People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787572602825 2021-08 Always Have, Always Will Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 27 9787530223192 2023-08 Wavy life Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787530222669 2022-11 Bao Shui Qiao Ye Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
27 29 9787530222324 2022-07 Brothers (2022 Edition) Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
30 30 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House

OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers, December 2023
November 2023 Ranking December 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
Not Ranked 1 9787020167449 2021-07 Three Hundred Tang Poems: Detailed Analysis Heng Tang Tui Shi, People’s Literature Publishing House Editorial Department People’s Literature Publishing House
2 2 9787521754803 2023-03 Believe Cai Lei CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
1 3 9787020084357 2011-04 I and the Temple of Earth Shi Tiesheng People’s Literature Publishing House
Not Ranked 4 9787514241693 2023-12 Behave With Propriety: The Underlying Logic That Transcends Social Circles Niu Kejin Cultural Development Publishing House
Not Ranked 5 9787514521580 2023-12 Sima Yi: An Endurable Winner Liang Yue Man Tian China Zhi Gong Press
Not Ranked 6 9787530214657 2015-01 We All Live in Disparity Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
4 7 9787557031589 2023-11 If History were a Group of Cats: The Ming Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
10 8 9787201161693 2020-08 Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure Robert de Board Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 9 9787222221833 2023-12 Paradoxes In Law Luo Xiang Yunnan People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 10 9787530669921 2016-08 Sima Yi: From Obscurity To Final Winner Zhang Yan Baihua Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 11 9787516817995 2018-05 Meditation: Setting Aside The World And Preserving The Purity Of Life Mo Zhu Taihai Publishing House
6 12 9787557695712 2022-01 Child Psychology Liao Wei Tianjin Science & Technology Press
7 13 9787557019167 2019-10 Classic Quotes From Zeng Shiqiang Luo Fu Shan Guo Xue Yuan Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
13 14 9787521758399 2023-09 Elon Musk Walter Isaacson CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 15 9787570228720 2023-03 Also Winter, Also Spring Chi Zijian Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co., Ltd.
14 16 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi China Machine Press
11 17 9787545144277 2018-08 The Art Of Speaking Wang Di Liaohai Press
Not Ranked 18 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 19 9787540484880 2018-01 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
28 20 9787115543424 2020-09 Cognitive Awakening: The Driving Force Behind Self-Change Zhou Ling Posts & Telecommunications Publishing House
12 21 9787557030162 2023-05 If History were a Group of Cats: Late Yuan and Early Ming Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
16 22 9787557028657 2022-10 If History were a Group of Cats: Southern Song, Jin and Yuan Dynasty Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787513942935 2023-09 Winner’s Method: The Way Of Learning Through Capital Feng Tang Democracy and Construction Press
Not Ranked 24 9787557514259 2016-08 The Book of Magic Answers Mei Sen Jilin Fine Arts Press
22 25 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
3 26 9787569931921 2019-12 Read Minds Lv Chen Bejing Times Chinese Press
Not Ranked 27 9787521603774 2019-08 The Faith as Premise of Freedom Luo Xiang China Legal Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787222204331 2021-11 Details of Law Luo Xiang Yunnan People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787511332165 2013-06 History In Details Li Yu China Overseas Chinese Press
24 30 9787557025847 2021-11 If History were a Group of Cats: Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Fei Zhi Guangdong Tourism Publishing House

OpenBook’s Children’s Bestsellers, December 2023
November 2023 Ranking December 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787218169095 2023-09 Su Shu (2 volumes) Huang Shigong, Han Tu Guangdong People’s Publishing House
5 2 9787550051942 2023-08 Children’s Manga Psychology (4 volumes) Shiguangxue Educational Research Center Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 3 9787523407059 2023-12 Comic Wang Yangming Philosophy Gao Mei Tuanjie Press
7 4 9787516535332 2023-11 Comic Book Teenager Reads Rockefeller’s Family Letter (6 volumes) Qinglan Tushu Aeronautics Industry Press
3 5 9787554712351 2023-11 Win In Upbringing: Learn Manners From Comics Shi Dongmei Tianjin Yangliuqing Fine Arts Press
Not Ranked 6 9787556878871 2023-11 Treasure Hunting in Shanxi Jingding Comic 21st Century Press Group
Not Ranked 7 9787556875498 2023-08 Father and Son E.O.plauen 21st Century Press Group
2 8 9787549288861 2023-08 Good Night Baby: Classic Early Childhood Reading (40 volumes) Wen Zhi Chang Jiang Press
10 9 9787533274269 2013-08 Guess How Much I Love You Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram Tomorrow Publishing House
4 10 9787548093398 2023-05 Taopishu Mouse Growth Series Picture Books (40 volumes) Xiao Ling Ding Dang, Xie Mingyi Jiangxi Fine Arts Press
Not Ranked 11 9787552707397 2023-06 DU ZHE School Edition 10th Anniversary Essence Volume (4 volumes) DUZHE Duzhe Press Co., Ltd.
9 12 9787518091287 2023-09 Girl, You Need to Know How to Protect Yourself (4 volumes) Wang Haoze China Textile Press
Not Ranked 13 9787521739077 2022-07 The Grolltroll (4 volumes) Barbara van den Speulhof CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
12 14 9787533299224 2018-10 Fantastic Mr. Fox Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake Tomorrow Publishing House
18 15 9787536574366 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Stratego Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 16 9787559395528 2023-12 30 Days To Become A Good Little Communicator Yang Weifeng Heilongjiang Fine Arts Press
24 17 9787536574397 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Clever Little Prodigy Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
25 18 9787536574380 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: Who’s the Smart Guy? Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
16 19 9787511066244 2023-11 38 Letters from Rockefeller to His Son (Comic Version) Xiong Ba Lao Hei Dolphin Press
27 20 9787536574373 2016-01 Mi Xiaoquan’s Brain-teaser: The Great Adventure of the Castle Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
6 21 9787511065810 2023-10 Children Must Memorize 144 Ancient Poems For Enlightenment Shiguangxue Educational Research Center Dolphin Press
Not Ranked 22 9787201077642 2013-01 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Tianjin People’s Publishing House
28 23 9787536587694 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: I am a Pupil Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 24 9787533259617 2009-03 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake Tomorrow Publishing House
Not Ranked 25 9787536587717 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: A Dog Called Rat Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 26 9787568148573 2019-01 Father and Son E.O.plauen Northeast Normal University Press
Not Ranked 27 9787536587724 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: Look at This Family Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 28 9787536587700 2018-04 Mi Xiaoquan School Experience: My Good Friend Tie Tou Bei Mao Sichuan Juvenile and Children’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 29 9787513824828 2023-12 Comic Children Insensitivity Chu Dou Wen Hua Sinolingua Press
20 30 9787550286122 2016-11 Butt Detective: Disappeared Popular Dessert Troll Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.

Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers, December 2023
November 2023 Ranking December 2023 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787201141527 2018-10 Strait is the Gate Andre Gide France Tianjin People’s Publishing House
2 2 9787544291170 2017-08 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
3 3 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
5 4 9787544291163 2017-08 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
4 5 9787201112695 2017-03 Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Germany Tianjin People’s Publishing House
6 6 9787208061644 2006-04 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
7 7 9787544269452 2021-12 Malice (2022 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
11 8 9787544298995 2020-09 Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2020 Edition) Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 9 9787544766500 2017-01 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
10 10 9787544297059 2020-03 Love in the Time of Cholera (3 Million Sold Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 11 9787521748239 2022-12 Goodbye, Eri Tatsuki Fujimoto Japan CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 12 9787532969623 2023-09 Netochka Nezvanova Fyodor Dostoevsky Russia Shandong Literature & Art Press
15 13 9787559614711 2018-01 Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Jeanette Winterson Britain Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
8 14 9787521200836 2018-08 Thiaoouba Prophecy Michael Desmarquet Australia The Writer’s Publishing House
12 15 9787544296274 2019-09 Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse Otsuichi Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
17 16 9787532175512 2020-05 13 Steps Kazuaki Takano Japan Shanghai Literature & Art Press
19 17 9787530217054 2017-12 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
13 18 9787532776771 2018-03 Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
20 19 9787573503053 2023-02 Swans and Bats Keigo Higashino Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 20 9787540485337 2018-03 Tsubaki Stationery Store Ito Ogawa Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press

Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers, December 2023
November 2023 Ranking December 2023 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
2 2 9787521758399 2023-09 Elon Musk Walter Isaacson United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
3 3 9787111495482 2015-04 The Courage to Be Disliked Ichiro Kishimi Japan China Machine Press
7 4 9787544276986 2019-10 Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover United States of America Nan Hai Publishing Co.
8 5 9787111551287 2016-10 Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise Anders Ericsson,Robert Pool United States of America China Machine Press
6 6 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.
4 7 9787550268517 2016-07 Positive Discipline (Revised Edition) Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
5 8 9787555262800 2017-12 The Power of Insensitivity Junichi Watanabe Japan Qingdao Publishing House
10 9 9787552029185 2020-04 The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children Shefali Tsabary United States of America Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press
15 10 9787220126437 2022-08 Somewhere Towards the End Diana Athill Britain Sichuan People’s Publishing House
14 11 9787508653389 2015-07 The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War Ⅱ Iris Chang United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
9 12 9787522200514 2021-05 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
Not Ranked 13 9787505737488 2016-12 What Life Should Mean to You Alfred Adler Austria China Friendship Publishing Company
Not Ranked 14 9787552003796 2013-09 The conscious parent:transforming ourselves empowering our children Shefali Tsabary United States of America Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press
Not Ranked 15 9787108009821 1998-07 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 16 9787210096528 2017-09 Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
17 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 9787505745681 2018-12 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind Gustave Le Bon France China Friendship Publishing Company
18 19 9787521736816 2022-01 Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co., Ltd.
11 20 9787801445445 2003-04 You Can Heal Your Life Louise L.Hay United States of America China Astronautic 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.

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.

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