With the People’s Republic’s 70th National Day on October 1–and the end of summer’s school lists–books on the regime and ‘light fiction’ rise.
China Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction

Schoolchildren in Beijing on a day trip to the Forbidden City. Image – iStockphoto: Ani To Photo

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

National Day Is October1

Again in August, we saw how responsive the bestseller lists in China are to the educational year.

China Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction

‘Life Is Like an Ocean’

As teacher’s summer-reading lists are exhausted, the cyclical two-month demand for the classis on those lists eases.

What surfaces instead? It’s that familiar and durable class of storytelling that’s described by researchers at Beijing OpenBook as “light fiction.” As the dictates of the curriculum reading instructions subside, a return to more reading for pleasure returns, and that means, in the Chinese market, some prominent rankings for that light fiction, including:

  • Zhang Jiajia’s Moments We Shared, up 14 places this time, from 23 in July to the No. 9 in August
  • Higashino Keigo’s Miracles of the Namiya General Store and Journey Under the Midnight Sun rose by 10 and 12 places, respectively
  • Other popular fiction moving up in the rankings includes Life is Like an Ocean by Ma Jia; Ran Freely by Wu Zhe; and the two volumes of 24 Hours in Chang’an and Ferryman by Claire McFall

And with “light fiction” moving down, those classics losing ground include by Luo Guangbin and Yang Yiyan, and each dropping 10 or more spots in the rankings.

Still, the Chinese lists are never places of rapid churn and even less of contemporary surprises. Sharp-eyed readers will note that the top three slots in fiction haven’t changed since July:

  • To Live by Yu Hua, ranked No. 1
  • Go Go Squid by Mo Bao Fei Bao, ranked No. 2
  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, ranked No. 3
China Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction

‘Danshiri’

In nonfiction in August, we see two books entirely new to the list:

  • Danshari by Yamashita Eiko, ranked No. 17
  • The Tough Brilliance (Revised Edition) by Jin Yinan, ranked No. 28

Note that , published in January, got two major boosts in August when author Yamashita Eiko signed books at stores in Xi’an and Hangzhou. And what is the book about? Clutter. Yes, this is another in the decluttering trend popularized by Japan’s Marie Kondo.

And before you laugh, remember that in January, Libby Sander was reporting that New York charity groups that collect donations of cast-off goods were seeing a 38-percent rise, year over year, in donated items, as the drive to dump the clutter powered on in the West.

But more importantly, we take note of Tuesday (October 1) and its impact on nonfiction in China. On that day, the 70th anniversary of “New China,” the People’s Republic of China, will be observed and that’s giving new life to the reliable standbys of the regime.

China Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction

‘CPC Ninety Years’

In addition to and , two titles that have been hot in the past turned up on our nonfiction August bestsellers chart in August: and in aevised edition.

Indeed, is at a strong No. 3. Its three volumes focus on the “New Democratic Period,” the “Socialist Revolution and Construction Period,” and the “Reform and Opening Up: The Socialist Modernization New Period.”

Below, then, are Beijing OpenBook’s overall lists from August of bestsellers in fiction and nonfiction, 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 in China, August 2019
July 2019 Ranking August 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
201907 201908 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787506365437 201006 To Live Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
2 2 9787559431240 201902 Go Go Squid Mo Bao Fei Bao Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
3 3 9787536692930 200801 The Three-Body Problem Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
6 4 9787530216781 201706 Ordinary Word (3 Volumns) Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
4 5 9787536693968 200805 The Dark Forest Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
5 6 9787229030933 201011 Death’s End Liu Cixin Chongqing Publishing House
7 7 9787208061644 200604 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini Shanghai People’s Publishing House
18 8 9787544270878 201404 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
23 9 9787540487645 201806 Moments We Shared Zhang Jiajia Hunan Literature & Art Press
13 10 9787540478315 201612 24 Hours in Chang’an (vol.1) Ma Boyong Hunan Literature & Art Press
14 11 9787540478339 201612 24 Hours in Chang’an (vol.2) Ma Boyong Hunan Literature & Art Press
24 12 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
15 13 9787020008735 199807 Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en People’s Literature Publishing House
10 14 9787020090006 201207 Fortress Besieged Qian Zhongshu People’s Literature Publishing House
21 15 9787530219218 201902 Life is Like Ocean Mai Jia Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
11 16 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder The Writer’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 17 9787530217054 201712 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
8 18 9787500601593 200508 Red Crag Luo Guangbin,Yang Yiyan China Youth Press
9 19 9787541151736 201812 Uninhibited Mo Xiang Tong Xiu Sichuan Literature & Art Press
22 20 9787530215593 201706 To Live Yu hua Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
29 21 9787559620187 201810 Ran Freely Wu Zhe Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
20 22 9787550032125 201902 Outcasts Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 23 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 24 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Nan Hai Publishing Co.
26 25 9787221150639 201902 Ran Freely (2) Wu Zhe Guizhou People’s Publishing House
28 26 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
Not Ranked 27 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Not Ranked 28 9787506365680 201212 Chronicle of a Blood Merchant Yu hua The Writer’s Publishing House
19 29 9787530216774 201707 Ordinary Word Lu Yao Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
17 30 9787020002207 199807 Dream of the Red Chamber Cao Xueqin People’s Literature Publishing House
OpenBook’s Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, August 2019
July 2019 Ranking August 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Chinese Publisher
5 1 9787550268517 201607 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
2 2 9787540492380 201906 The Kids Da Bing Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 3 9787509837412 201606 CPC Ninety Years (3 volumes) Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee Chinese Communist Party History Publishing House
12 4 9787201094014 201509 Six Records of a Floating Life Shen Fu Tianjin People’s Publishing House
4 5 9787559436184 201905 30 Minutes of Tang Poetry in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
7 6 9787539999883 201703 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
1 7 9787020116133 201606 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow People’s Literature Publishing House
8 8 9787544382052 201805 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (3) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
9 9 9787559418111 201804 30 Minutes of World History in Cartoon Chen Lei Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
10 10 9787544382045 201805 30 Minutes of Chinese History in Cartoon (2) Chen Lei Hainan Publishing House
11 11 9787559620125 201805 Genius on the Left, Lunatic on the Right (Full Version)(New Edition) Gao Ming Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
Not Ranked 12 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
19 13 9787508095226 201809 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg Huaxia Publishing House
3 14 9787549550173 201401 Seeing Off Long Yingtai Guangxi Normal University Press
17 15 9787201088822 201409 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 16 9787514365641 201711 I Know What I Want, I Know How to Get it, and Do It Now. That’s All Yang’s Owl Morden Press
Not Ranked 17 9787540489304 201901 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Hunan Literature & Art Press
16 18 9787201088945 201412 No More Than Skins Cai Chongda Tianjin People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 19 9787101127867 201709 Translation and Annotation of the Analects of Confucius Yang Bojun Zhonghua Book Company
6 20 9787540484880 201801 The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo (Commemorative Edition) Lin Yutang Hunan Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 21 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal Cultural Development Publishing House
24 22 9787108063106 201806 We Three (Third Edition) Yang Jiang SDX Joint Publishing Company
14 23 9787530214787 201704 The Stories of the Sahara Echo Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
18 24 9787503565397 201902 Xi Jinping in Zhengding Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C Central Party School Press
22 25 9787521702415 201902 The American Trap Frederic Pierucci,Matthieu Aron CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 26 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 27 9787535447340 201402 The Poignant Culture Traveling Yu Qiuyu Changjiang Literature & Art Press Co.,Ltd.
Not Ranked 28 9787506379236 201505 The Tough Brilliance (Revised Edition) Jin Yinan The Writer’s Publishing House
21 29 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Hunan Science & Technology Press
Not Ranked 30 9787540467784 201406 The Art of Speaking of Kevin Tsai Kevin Tsai Hunan Literature & Art Press
Foreign Author Fiction Bestsellers in China, August 2019
July 2019 Ranking August 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
201907 201908 ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
1 1 9787208061644 201802 The Kite Runner (2018 Edition) Khaled Hosseini United States of America Shanghai People’s Publishing House
3 2 9787544270878 201404 Miracles of the Namiya General Store Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
5 3 9787544291163 201708 Journey Under the Midnight Sun (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
2 4 9787506394864 201709 Sophie’s World (New Edition) Jostein Gaarder Norway The Writer’s Publishing House
16 5 9787530217054 201712 The Alchemist Paulo Coelho Brazil Beijing October Art & Literature Publishing House
4 6 9787550032125 201902 Outcasts Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
8 7 9787544285148 201610 Malice Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
9 8 9787544291170 201708 One Hundred Years of Solitude (50th Anniversary Edition) Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
6 9 9787550013247 201505 Ferryman Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
10 10 9787544267618 201406 The Devotion of Suspect X Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
13 11 9787532776771 201803 Norwegian Wood (30th Anniversary Edition) Haruki Murakami Japan Shanghai Translation Publishing House
12 12 9787559427434 201902 The Outsider Albert Camus France Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
18 13 9787544277617 201506 Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Nan Hai Publishing Co.
14 14 9787550024212 201709 Trespassers Claire McFall Britain Baihuazhou Literature & Art Publishing House
15 15 9787544291224 201708 After School (2017 Edition) Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
19 16 9787544281102 201601 Newcomer Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
20 17 9787544384636 201809 The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler United States of America Hainan Publishing House
Not Ranked 18 9787539971810 201504 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin United States of America Jiangsu Literature & Art Press
Not Ranked 19 9787544766500 201701 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee United States of America Yilin Press
Not Ranked 20 9787544258210 201710 Naoko Higashino Keigo Japan Nan Hai Publishing Co.
Foreign Author Nonfiction Bestsellers in China, August 2019
July 2019 Ranking August 2019 Ranking ISBN Release Date Title (Translated) Author Author nationality Chinese Publisher
2 1 9787550268517 201607 Positive Discipline Jane Nelsen United States of America Beijing Union Publishing Co., Ltd.
1 2 9787020116133 201706 Red Star Over China Edgar Snow United States of America People’s Literature Publishing House
10 3 9787508660752 201702 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
5 4 9787508095226 201809 Nonviolent Communication Marshall B.Rosenberg United States of America Huaxia Publishing House
4 5 9787201088822 201409 How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie United States of America Tianjin People’s Publishing House
16 6 9787540489304 201901 Danshari Yamashita Eiko Japan Hunan Literature & Art Press
12 7 9787514219203 201709 The Willpower Instinct (New Edition) Kelly McGonigal United States of America Cultural Development Publishing House
7 8 9787521702415 201902 The American Trap Frederic Pierucci,Matthieu Aron France CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
15 9 9787508684031 201712 Principles Ray Dalio United States of America CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
6 10 9787535732309 200111 A Brief History of Time Stephen W.Hawking Britain Hunan Science & Technology Press
11 11 9787108009821 201403 1587, a Year of No Significance Ray Huang United States of America SDX Joint Publishing Company
Not Ranked 12 9787544762885 201604 84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff United States of America Yilin Press
8 13 9787301109489 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.1) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
9 14 9787301110522 200610 A Global History: From Prehistory to the 21st Century (Vol.2) L. S. Stavrianos United States of America Peking University Press
3 15 9787544768559 201707 Souvenirs Entomologiques Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre France Yilin Press
13 16 9787220102912 201709 Rich Dad, Poor Dad Robert T.Kiyosaki United States of America Sichuan People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 17 9787800875830 199909 How to Win Friends and Influence Others & How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Dale Carnegie United States of America China Development Press
19 18 9787508672069 201701 Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Not Ranked 19 9787210094906 201707 The Scroll Marked Dale Carnegie,Yang Yi United States of America Jiangxi People’s Publishing House
Not Ranked 20 9787508692098 201807 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Yuval Noah Harari Israel CITIC Publishing House Co.,Ltd
Notes on the Charts

OpenBookChina Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction 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.

TrajectoryChina Bestsellers for August: Back to School, Light Fiction, based near Boston, is an importer of Western-language ebooks and audiobooks into China. Trajectory is also helping China’s largest publishers export their books and audiobooks through a proprietary global ebook distribution network that includes hundreds of retailers as well as library and school distributors. Trajectory recently has added copyright services, both for content going into China and for exports from China to the rest of the world.

As of July 1, this data is estimated by OpenBook to represent some 60 percent of the total sales activity in China. OpenBook draws point-of-sale data from more than 7,000 bookstores in China, including a total 4,151 physical bookstores representative of all the provinces in China except Tibet, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

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, Trajectory 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.

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