Five years of #Amazon in #China: latest news and more

 

The People’s Daily in China recently published an English-language article to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Kindle E-reader’s entrance into the Chinese Market. The article was written by Luo Sicheng and published on July 4, 2018. It can be accessed in full HERE, but the analysis below could be of some interest to those emerging and established authors, literary agents and publishers in the West who are interested in exploring the Chinese Market.

The most interesting part of the article is perhaps the “Amazon Charts Most Sold” list of Chinese ebooks from 2013 to 2018, which was published by Amazon China on June 29. “According to the data, several million Kindle E-readers have now been sold across China, becoming the world’s biggest Kindle market since 2016,” wrote Luo. “So far, the number of books in the Chinese Kindle eBook store has reached almost 700,000, ten times the number in 2013.”

Based on the Amazon Charts, Liu Cixin’s sci-fi series “The Three-Body Problem” was the most purchased Chinese ebook over the past five years. The real title of this series is “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”. However, given the success of Book One “The Three-Body Problem”, whose English translation by Ken Liu won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award for Novel, Chinese fans have long used the title of this book in their reference to the whole series.

The only other title by a Chinese author on Amazon Kindle’s top 10 bestselling list in China in the past five years is Stories about Ming Dynasty, a serial historical novel originally published online from March 2006 to March 2009. Holding the #4 spot on the Amazon Charts, the book is allegedly the first “standard history novel” in China, as most of the historical novels before it used “more fictions but little true or standard history”.

The other eight books on Amazon Kindle’s top 10 bestselling list in China in the past five years were by foreign authors. Chinese-American author Celeste Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You (2014) was #5, which is quite an achievement, considering the Chinese edition was only published in July 2015. A likely contributing factor to this success is the title being one of Amazon’s 2014 Best Books of the Year. Many readers in China also identify with Ng’s representation of a mixed-race Chinese-American family. In comparison, many other Chinese readers focus on themes relating racial and gender discrimination, as well as the profound impact that conventional/“tiger mother” style of parenting may have on young people, which can happen in all cultures.

Particularly popular in China is Japanese author Keigo Higashino, whose Miracles of the Namiya General Store (2012) was #2 on Amazon Kindle’s top 10 bestselling list in China in the past five years. According to an article published on Variety.com, it was one of Amazon China’s top 10 bestselling novels and had sold over 1.6 million copies as of the end of October 2015. The book’s popularity in both digital and print editions is likely to have been boosted by its Chinese film adaption, starring Jackie Chan, released in China in late December 2017. Note that another book by Higashino, Journey under the Midnight Sun (1999), was #6 on the Amazon Charts.

Holding the #3 spot on Amazon Kindle’s top 10 bestselling list in China in the past five years is Australian author John Hirst’s The Shortest History of Europe (Black Inc., 2009). Listed as #7 is Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants (2010), which requires no introduction. Capturing the #10 spot is American author Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (2014). Finally, that which holds the #9 spot is a perfect example of an “oldie but goodie” – British author W. Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence (1919).

 

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