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China Books & Literature

Reading Nation: China’s Most Popular Books

What are the most popular books amongst Chinese readers? In light of World Book Day, What’s on Weibo gives an overview of the most popular books and readings habits in China.

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What are the most popular books amongst Chinese readers? In light of World Book Day, What’s on Weibo gives an overview of the most popular books and readings habits in China.

Starting from the 21st of April, Amazon China has been organizing a campaign titled “Love Reading” to promote nationwide reading. As part of the campaign, that was held in light of World Book Day (April 23rd), the e-commerce giant carried out an extensive survey on the reading habits and preferences of Chinese readers. The survey had more than 11,000 participants from over 500 different Chinese cities.

China’s reading habits

The survey reveals that China has a large reading population; 80% of participants read more than half an hour per day, and half of the surveyed have finished more than 10 books over the past year.

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According to the survey results, digital reading has increased in popularity. 84% of the surveyed have digital reading experiences, and Kindle is now surpassing smartphones as the preferred electronic reading tool. Despite the digital developments within the world of reading, paper books remain the preferred choice for many Chinese readers; 80% like to read both digitally and on paper, while 16% say they choose paper books exclusively.

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Reading habits vary depending on gender, age and education. Between the two sexes, women tend to read more as a hobby, while men often read for career planning or knowledge acquisition.

Preferred topics of reading are different amongst age groups. The post-2000 generation mostly reads original literature and study-related books; the post-80 generation prefers finance and baby-caring. Post-60s turn to social sciences and philosophy.

China’s most popular books

Amazon.cn also published the top popular paper books and Kindle books for the first season of 2016. Literature and novels are the most popular genre, followed by financial management and social sciences. Within the last category, history is the most popular social science topic.

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According to Amazon’s list, books that were orignally published in English are generally more popular than books written by Chinese authors.

Top Paper Books of 2016

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry [岛上书店] by Gabrielle Zevin, 2015 (Novel, originally English)
Miracles of the Namiya General Store [ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟] by Higashino Keigo 東野圭吾, 2014 (Novel, originally Japanese)
The Willpower Instinct [自控力] by Kelly McGonigal, 2013 (Self-Help, originally English)
Everything I Never Told You [无声告白] by Celeste Ng, 2015 (Novel, originally English)
So Slow, So Beautiful [这么慢,那么美] by Tintin Sverredal, 2015 (Travel, originally Chinese)
Genius Left Lunatic Right [天才在左疯子在右] by Gao Ming 高铭 (Biography, originally Chinese)
Spark English: Tests and Practices for CET 4 2016 (Examination, originally English)
Passing by Your World [从你的世界路过] by Zhang Jiajia 张嘉佳 , 2013 (Novel, originally Chinese)
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind [人类简史] by Yuval Noah Harari, 2014 (Social Science, originally English)
The Kite Runner [追风筝的人] by Khaled Hosseini, 2003 (Literature, originally English)

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Top Kindle Books of 2016

Miracles of the Namiya General Store [ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟] by Higashino Keigo 東野圭吾, 2014 (Novel, originally Japanese)
What Life Could Mean to You [自卑与超越] by Alfred Adler, 2006 (Self-Help, originally English)
The Shortest History of Europe [极简欧洲史] by John Hirst, 2011 (Social Sciences, originally English)
• The Three-Body Problem [三体全集] by Liu Cixin 刘慈欣, 2012 (Science Fiction Novel, originally Chinese)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry [一个人的朝圣] by Rachel Joyce, 2012 (Novel, originally English)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes [夏洛克·福尔摩斯全集] by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Novel, originally English)
General History of China [中国通史] by Lv Simian 吕思勉 , 2009 (Social Sciences, originally English)
Everything I Never Told You [无声告白] by Celeste Ng, 2015 (Novel, originally English)
Never Imagined [万万没想到] by Wan Weigang 万维钢, 2014 (Science, originally English)
Good, Touch the Head [乖,摸摸头] by Da Bing 大冰 (Biography, originally English)

Reading Nation

Reading books is a habit for many Chinese. According to Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, 58.4% of China’s adult population regularly reads books.  Meanwhile, the internet has become a platform for these readers to connect with other book lovers.

Popular Chinese news media like Sina.com, Sohu.com and People.com now all have book sections with recommendations and reviews of new arrivals. In the reading section of online community Douban, users can add entries of books or share their thoughts.

For the World Book Day this year, Sina Weibo launched a special topic titled ‘Page 24, Line 4’ (#23页第四行), where netizens were asked to post a picture of the specific line of the book their reading, and to share their views on the book.

For businesses, World Book Day was a good marketing opportunity. Major online book retailers like Amazon.cn, Tmall.com and Dangdang.com all had sales to promote book purchases, leading to higher sales. For some retailers, like Dang dang, sales were so succesful that their site temporarily crashed due to excessive traffic.

Encouraging reading is also a matter of focus on the state agenda. The publicity department of the PRC previously launched a “nationwide reading” (全民读书) campaign in 2006, as part of promoting the learning society. Chinese Academy of Press and Publication has also been releasing annual reports on reading habits of Chinese citizens. The latest report was released on April 19 in Beijing, which pointed out that China is now reading more than before – truly a book-loving nation.

– By Diandian Guo

Sources:
http://www.199it.com/archives/465029.html
http://news.xinhuanet.com/book/2016-04/22/c_128921238.htm
http://cips.chinapublish.com.cn/yjsdt/201604/t20160419_173544.html

Image: featured image by Whatsonweibo,
http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2015-04/22/content_20502019.htm

Additional editing by Manya Koetse
©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    April 28, 2016 at 4:33 am

    A claim like ‘and Kindle is now surpassing smartphones as the preferred electronic reading tool’ and the fact that the survey was done by Amazon says a lot about the representativeness of the sample group and overall reliability of this research.

  2. Avatar

    Tenzinz

    May 30, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    If anyone want to buy english ebook in wechat,contact me on(tcv3768tcv)

  3. Avatar

    Plantday

    October 26, 2020 at 1:02 am

    Well all the books on weibos list are danmei novels and the most anticapted adaption are also usually danmei novels.Yet I can never see any metion of them. Whats with that.

  4. Avatar

    CaveStone

    October 26, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Every popular books ranked on weibo are danmei and lets not forget all the fanart for the novels and anticipated adaptions. So where the metions…
    Not like they dont get publishing either .

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China Books & Literature

The Many Books Lost in the China Floods: Catastrophic Flooding Hits Zhuozhou’s Publishing Industry

After Typhoon Doksuri, some major warehouses in Zhuozhou have seen their depots transform into a sea of floating books.

Manya Koetse

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Dozens of prominent Chinese publishing companies and book warehouses based in Hebei’s Zhuozhou, a major hub for the publishing industry, have witnessed their book depots destroyed as water levels surged as high as the second floor. Distribution will be at a standstill for at least 15 days.

Zhuozhou (涿州) is a county-level city in Baoding, Hebei Province, known as a major hub for the Chinese publishing industry. It is one of the areas that has been badly affected by the heavy rainfall and flash floodings China has seen this week, after Typhoon Doksuri moved from the Philippines to Taiwan toward Beijing and surrounding regions in mainland China.

In Zhuozhou, dozens of publishing warehouses were affected by floods and water damage due to the storm, resulting in losses amounting to hundreds of millions of yuan. Zhuozhou’s print media industry is closely linked with the center of China’s publishing industry in Beijing, just 25 miles away.

Some warehouses, such as that of Beijing China Media Times, are as large as 8000 square meters, housing over three million books. According to Sina News, one area that housed around 200 publishing companies was almost entirely flooded.

A Weibo post by the Hong Kong Ta Kung Wen Wei Media Group (HKTKWW, @大公文匯網) showed the status quo at some warehouses, which had changed into a sea of books.

Posted on Weibo by HKTKWW, @大公文匯網, the situation at the Beijing China Media Times book warehouse in Zhuozhou.

Posted on Weibo by HKTKWW, @大公文匯網, the situation at the Beijing China Media Times book warehouse in Zhuozhou.

Publisher Books China (中图网), known as an industry “outlet store” for selling discounted and out-of-print books, also saw its central Zhuozhou warehouse completely flooded.

Around 100 of their staff members remained trapped at the office on Tuesday night without any food, drinks, or blankets, while water levels continued to rise. An additional cause for concern was the strong odor emanating from a nearby adhesive tape factory. Some employees suspected that toxic gases might have leaked, leading to several of them feeling unwell and vomiting after exposure.

According to China News (@中国新闻网), all employees were safely evacuated on Wednesday.

Photo posted on Weibo by China News (@中国新闻网), showing how the Books China (中图网) major warehouse was severely impacted by the recent floods, with water levels rising up to the second floor.

In an interview with Chinese newspaper Southern Weekend (南方周末), Beijing China Media Times CEO Ran Zijian (冉子健) revealed that his company had not received any advance warning about the heavy rains and the possibility of flooding, despite the area being prone to floods due to its low-lying terrains. All of the company’s 3.6 million books are now submerged underwater.

Photos provided to Southern Weekend, Weibo.

The water levels rose so rapidly on Tuesday that there was hardly any time to rescue the books, making the evacuation of staff members the first priority. Bookseller Zou Bin (邹斌) told Southern Weekend that he saw the water levels rising so fast in his 5,000 square meter warehouse that he basically witnessed “25 million yuan [$3.5 million] disappear in an hour, powerless to do anything about it.”

According to several Chinese news outlets, the distribution and dispatching of books will be impossible for numerous publishing houses based in Zhuozhou for at least the next 15 days. As the local book industry continues to assess the damages, it remains uncertain how severely the companies have been affected at this stage. For some, it feels like they are starting from scratch all over again.

But most netizens emphasize that it’s more important that employees are safe, as people’s lives are more important than paper books. “Who cares about dispatching books at this time?” some commenters wonder, while others express grief about all the books lost, saying, “It’s just such a pity.”

By Manya Koetse 

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China Books & Literature

Why Is Kindle Leaving China?

Many netizens are not happy over Kindle exiting the Chinese market: “We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

Manya Koetse

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Amazon announced on Thursday that it has stopped supplying retailers in China with its Kindle e-readers and that it will discontinue its Kindle e-bookstore in the Chinese market on June 30, 2023.

Amazon announced its Kindle exit in a statement on its official WeChat account, saying it was because of a shift in the strategic focus of its company’s operations.

For Chinese customers who have purchased e-books through Kindle, they will be able to continue downloading them until June 30 of 2024. Customers who would rather return the Kindle devices they bought in 2022 can get a refund.

On Weibo, the hashtags “Kindle Will Be Discontinued in China Next Year” (#Kindle中国明年停止电子书运营#) and “Why Wasn’t Kindle Able to Make It in China?” (#为什么Kindle在中国活不下去#) were hot topics on Thursday and Friday.

Some commenters said they were upset about Kindle being discontinued in China: “Why why why!! I really like Kindle and their e-bookstore, I check for interesting and new books on sale on a weekly basis. Which e-reader and e-bookstore are suitable substitutes?”

“Zhangyue, Hisense, Huawei, Onyx Boox, Tencent, Readmoo,.. there are actually a lot of brands,” one person responded, but some others said they still preferred Kindle.

“What do I do with my Kindle now? Just use it to cover my noodles?”

In 2021, Amazon’s Kindle was among the most popular e-book brands in China. Besides Amazon’s Kindle, China’s most popular e-reader brands include Onyx Boox, iFlytech, Zhangyue, Xiaomi, Hanvon, Tencent, Boyue, Obook, and Sony (see list).

Some commenters wrote that they understand that companies such as Amazon have to make some tough choices after facing pandemic-related setbacks in China, while there were also many netizens who blamed Kindle’s China exit on Chinese consumers illegally downloading pirated books instead of buying them at the Kindle store.

Others said that Kindle e-bookstore prices were often about the same as paper book prices, making the latter more appealing to people who like to read, especially if they also like to make notes in their books. In other words, they say the Kindle e-bookstore is simply too expensive for the Chinese market, where consumers can find many other options, both paper and digital ones.

“It’s not so complicated,” one Weibo user wrote: “It’s all because of market competition reasons. Kindle is facing the impact of Tencent’s influence on the e-reading market.”

Some people are really disappointed that the books they have bought through Kindle will become unavailable to them, and some wondered if this was legal with regards to consumer rights.

One popular economic blogger wrote: “Kindle has now withdrawn [from China]. Many years ago, when different kinds of online storage spaces starting closing down, I learned one thing: never fully trust internet storage services. Your study material, the things you wrote, your video records, you need to back them up. We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

By Manya Koetse

Image via Weibo

Featured images by Weibo blogger @钟文泽.

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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