Chinese online bookstores Amazon, Dangdang and Jingdong have released their best-seller lists for 2015, showing that The Secret Garden, an all the rage coloring book with only 264 characters, is the book most people spent money on in the past year.
"Sales of The Secret Garden reached a million copies three months since it hit the shelves, and total sales in 2015 are more than 1.5 million," Chen Lijun, manager at Dangdang's publications devision, told Huaxi Metropolis Daily.
"I think coloring is a good way to relax," said Xiong Xin, a 27-year-old staff worker at a state-owned enterprise in Beijing who bought the book soon after it came out. Anne Ruisi, an expat working in China who received the book from a colleague, also says the book gives her the pleasure of being creative through drawing and painting.
The sold out popularity of the book, while not surprising, is quite accidental to some cultural critics – it is a byproduct of the growing young middle class's endeavor to escape from work and life pressures.
"The book is more about participation and recreation. Its popularity suggests that the book is becoming an alternative for the young middle class Chinese to let out pressure," Peking University professor and cultural critic Zhang Yiwu told China Daily Website.
Zhang said it also explained why so called "healing" books are among the top sellers. "Books that are easy to read, those that are sentimental and humorous respond well to the emotional and spiritual needs of the young Chinese middle class. I Belonged to You by Zhang Jiajia and As Long as You are Here by Liu Tong, for example, are representatives of such a genre," Zhang said.
Books concerning children, as last year, did not miss out among the top 10 – only that the focus shifted from children's literature to education. Such demands, came as no surprise as the country is encouraging more babies and the middle class Chinese's interests in cultivating their children is on the rise.
Other trending books include those spurred by same name movies or dramas, such as Wolf Totem written by Chinese writer Jiang Rong, The Little Prince by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Ordinary World by Chinese writer Lu Yao. Web fictions that were firstly embraced by same name dramas, though not in the top 10, also sold very well.
The only economics and management book on the list is Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, ranked second and fourth in Jingdong and Amazon's selling lists. The book, recommended by many worldwide CEOs including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, seems to be an echo to the growing number of aspiring entrepreneurs in Chinese society.