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    Report reveals best selling writers
Jin Bo
2006-01-14 05:40

A recent count of best selling Chinese authors came as a surprise to publishers.

The one who rose above the rest was neither young literary star Han Han, nor detective-romance writer Hai Yan. Even Kung fu writers whose works have been traditionally popular such as Louis Cha (Jin Yong) and Gu Long, or renowned novelists such as Yu Hua and Wang Meng, trailed behind.

Results revealed that last year's best-selling author was Yang Hongying, a lesser-known children's book writer, whose recent novel series were a hit with primary school readers.

According to a comprehensive annual report on China's publishing industry in 2005 that was released by the Beijing-based Openbook Market Consulting Centre, the prolific female writer had as many as 57 books published under her name last year alone.

These titles, include "A Boy's Diary," "A Girl's Diary" and "Mischievous Imp Ma Xiaotiao," which were published by nine different publishing companies. Some of them were written in 2005 while others were reprints.

The company categorized bestsellers into genres in the weekly China Book Business Report, one of China's most influential reading publications, and tracked the sales of Chinese published books.

According to the Openbook report, last year's second best-selling Chinese author was Guo Jingming, a 23-year-old novelist whose sentimental works are real tearjerkers for today's teenagers.

He ranked 92nd in the Forbes' 2005 Chinese rich list, with an annual income of 2.5 million yuan (US$308,600). He gained his reputation three years ago and his influence on college and university students has gone from strength to strength ensuring his position as the most commercially successful young writer in China.

Occupying third place was Wang Zhongqiu, the author of a popular business administration title "Detail is the Key to Success." This book's message is very simple: those with farfetched dreams should focus on the nitty-gritty first.

Jiang Rong, author of "Wolf Totem," came in fourth. Penguin, the world's leading book publisher, made a generous offer to obtain publishing rights for the book's English language edition.

Others on the list are Cheng Junyi, whose "Distilling the Three Kingdoms" offers business tips drawn from battles fought in third-century China, and Lu Qin, whose "Tell Your Child: You are Great" offers parental advice for a nation struggling to raise legions of only children, often known as "little emperors."

No pure-literary work made it into the top 10 bestsellers even though numerous well-known Chinese authors published their latest novels last year.

The most popular pure-literary work was Yu Hua's "Brothers" which sold like hot cakes forcing its publisher Shanghai Literature Press to order second and third printings to reach sales of 350,000.

But that was still not enough to put Yu in the top 10.

J.K. Rowling topped the best-selling foreign authors list, with her Harry Potter series ranking number one.

Robert Kuhn, author of "The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin," and Dan Brown, author of "Da Vinci Code," came in second and third respectively.

According to Openbook, China's book sales increased 7.34 per cent in 2005 from the year before. It is estimated that sales will increase a further 8.74 per cent in 2006.

These are impressive results in comparison to other countries, however they are much lower than the two-digit increase that China has experience in past years.

According to the report, compared with other countries and regions such as Japan and Taiwan Province, the market on the Chinese mainland is far from saturated.

Helping the trend has been the removal of many policy restrictions making it much easier to publish books. However, this has caused a backlash since the significant number of new titles rolling out every day has made it increasingly difficult to sell books.

The report proposed different countermeasures for different publishing houses.

Large-scale publishers should continue the reform of establishing publishing groups, the report says.

To enhance its competitiveness, the Chinese publishing industry initiated the process of setting up publishing groups in early 2003, when Liaoning Publishing Group, the first of its kind, announced its establishment. Since then a dozen publishing groups have been established.

Small and medium-scale publishers need to focus on particular areas, the report says. Currently most small Chinese publishing houses tend to extend their business to almost all genres, from children's books and textbooks to health books and tourist guides. The result is they fail in every aspect.

"The realistic way for small publishers to succeed is to specialize on a certain genre. Only by doing that could they survive the increasingly fierce competition," pointed out the report.

The report was released during the 19th Beijing Book Fair, which concluded on Wednesday at the China International Exhibition Centre in Beijing.

Organized by the Publishers' Association of China, the annual event is one of the most important events for China's publishing industry. It began in 1987 and has now become the biggest book-order fair for domestic publishing houses, distributors and retailers in China.

During the four-day fair, a total of 1,909 booths were packed into the China International Exhibition Centre and more than 100,000 new titles were put on display.

Many publishing houses grabbed the chance to publicize the new books they will publish this year.

Huge crowds attended the fair to see the fancy exhibition booths, and impressive promotions of numerous new titles.

Held at the beginning of 2006, the event was also an opportunity to summarize the successes of the past year and to get a taste for the trends of this year's promising Chinese book market.

(China Daily 01/14/2006 page9)


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