Booming sales of Jin Yong’s audio books demonstrates Chinese readers’ increasing interest in the medium

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/3 18:33:40

 The author page for Jin Yong's audio books on audio streaming platform Qingting FM


The cover to the Biography of Jin Yong Photo: IC

As is expected when a famous artist dies, demand for Chinese martial arts novelist Jin Yong's works has increased considerably since the literary master passed away at the age of 94 on October 30. However, this demand has not been limited to only print versions of his works. Audio book versions have also seen an impressive increase in sales, according to Chinese media reports.

According to a Sunday article from Chinese news site, monthly print sales for Jin Yong's works increased by more than 300 percent in November on Chinese online bookstore Dangdang, while sales of the audio versions of his works on smart app Jin Yong Tingshu (Jin Yong Listening Book) have increased by the same amount. The spike in sales on the app started at 7 pm on October 30, right after the news of the novelist's death began to circulate online.

"While doing marketing research for the Jin Yong Tingshu app, we found that demand for the audio versions of Jin Yong novels was booming. This was not limited to traditional radio stations, but also rising online platforms," He Xian, editor-in-chief of Guangzhou-based Langshine Publishing - the company that developed and runs the app, told

Aside from the app, Jin Yong audio novels available on have garnered more than 2 million plays over the past two weeks.

Growing market

Growing demand in China for audio books is not just limited to Jin Yong novels. Classic ancient Chinese literature, web novels and speeches given by celebrities are also great sources of revenue for Chinese audio content developers.

China's audio book market revenue is expected to grow from 2016's 2.37 billion yuan ($342 million) to 4.54 billion yuan in 2018 thanks to the emergence of numerous audio content platforms, according to the 2018 China Audio Book Market Research Report from Chinese internet data platform iiMedia Research. Revenue for 2015 was approximately 1.65 billion yuan.

According to a China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) report released in August, there were 232 million audio book readers in China as of June, accounting for nearly 30 percent of China's netizens.

"Our major audio book users include high-income people who like to pay for content that can increase their knowledge as well as people who enjoy a large amount of disposable time, such as college students, security guards, drivers and housewives," Tang Yi, the director for intellectual property procurement for Qingting FM - one of China's largest online audio platforms, told

Opportunities and challenges

Increased demand for audio content is also pushing more and more traditional State-owned Chinese publishing houses to make attempts at tapping the market's potential.

For instance, the 67-year-old People's Literature Publishing House is planning to publish an audio book edition of the classic Dream of the Red Chamber, wrote a Tianjin Daily report quoting Zhao Chen, the publishing house's digital publishing director, on November 27. The publishing house has already published an audio edition of Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China.

Moreover, while audio books are usually only recorded after their printed versions have achieved success in the market, Chinese publishers might start opting in for an all-in-one package in the future.

In October, the print, audio and digital versions of Chinese sci-fi novel AI Mihang (AI Mysterious Voyage) were published simultaneously. The first Chinese novel to do so, according to the book's publisher, the book garnered over 50,000 plays in a single month on audio book app Lanren Tingshu to become a "dark horse" in the genre, media reported.

Despite the trend, publishers might still face a number of barriers as they try to get a piece of the market pie. The high cost of production is one major concern, for instance.

"The difficulty and cost to produce an audio book are greater than that of an e-book as a good-quality audio book requires at least a few months to make and costs more than 10,000 yuan… It also requires production and editing expertise as well as marketing and intellectual property rights," Xin Lingling, head of the digital publishing department of China's Duke Culture, told the Tianjin Daily.

Newspaper headline: Have a listen


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