Club China (KLM Airline’s China focused website) came out today with a list of the four best books on China business. It describes its list as follows:
Are you planning your China business venture? Or have you been in China for years, and find yourself still hungry for knowledge? Our Club China editors have compiled their list of best business books about China. Some have been published fairly recently, others are classic but still immensely popular. Please enjoy our ‘Must-reads about China’.
Its list consists of only four books, all but one of which (the One Hour China Book being the exception) I have read and recommend very highly. I am writing this post on an airplane (heading to New York to speak on China tomorrow at Cardozo Law School and having someone on the ground fill in the links) with marginal internet, but I have a nagging feeling, actually a certainty, that though my list would most emphatically include the three books I have read, it would also most emphatically include some more. So to me this list is not necessarily THE four books you must read or even the best four books for those looking for more information on doing business in China or with China, but rather, four great books for that purpose (I have heard nothing but good things regarding the One Hour China Book).
So without further ado, I give you the KLM list, with my own comments following the quote.
China CEO. By Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood. KLM has this to say about China CEO:
There is nothing like learning about business successes and failures from the very people that experienced them….Twenty top executives and eight experienced consultants based in China offer their first-hand, front-line advice….China CEO is full of such sound advice about subjects like managing Chinese employees, leaderships styles and negotiating with the Chinese Government.
Way back in 2009, in a short article I wrote for Forbes Magazine, entitled Best 10 Books on China, I listed China CEO and had this to say about it: China CEO is a technical collection of interviews with CEOs on how to conduct business in China.
One Billion Customers, by James McGregor, of which KLM has this to say:
The author is a former Wall Street Journal China bureau chief who became a successful corporate executive. One Billion Customers … offers compelling narratives of personalities, business deals, and lessons learned….The book offers a great number of interesting case studies, including a rocky joint venture between Morgan Stanley and a Chinese bank; the rise and fall of a Chinese peasant turned billionaire smuggler; Rupert Murdoch’s travails in bringing a satellite TV network to China; and a muck-raking Chinese financial journalist’s battles with both government censorship and the private media’s cozy relationships with advertisers.
I also listed this book in my Forbes article with this to say about it: “How big business gets done in China.”
China’s Super Consumers, by Savio Chan and Michael Zakkour, of which KLM has this to say:
The subtitle of the book Chan and Zakkour wrote says it all: What 1 Billion Customers Want and How to Sell it to Them. It explores the birth of consumerism in China and explains who these super consumers are. The authors explain what’s inside the minds of Chinese consumers, what they buy, where they buy, how they buy, and most importantly why they buy….The authors offer real stories of the kind that entrepreneurs can never get enough of: how was it done, why did it work, where did it fail….The book takes its readers inside the boardrooms of the people who understand Chinese consumers and have had success in the Chinese market.
I reviewed this book when it came out in 2014, and if you will forgive me a bit of bias because it quotes me a couple times on the legal side of doing business in China, I think this book makes for a superb primer on how to do business in China. Back then I described it as “a great book and I highly recommend it for anyone with a product or a service that is being sold or could be sold to China’s consumers. It is also a very good book for any foreign company doing business in China or looking to do so.” I certainly stand by that review now.
The One Hour China Book, by Jonathan Woetzel and Jeffrey Towson, about which KLM has this to say:
If you are more a doer than a reader, this one is for you. In just 132 pages, two Beijing university professors take you on a quick tour of China business life. There are just six stories in this book and they happen to be pretty good. This “quick-read” offers the distilled knowledge of two Beijing university business professors with over 30 years of experience on the ground in China and emerging markets….Each chapter is condensed into a handful of key points/statements which help the reader to understand and remember the underlying mega trend.
That’s it. Those of you on the ground who wish to add additional books to this list, please do so via the comments below. I am still working on a massive “best reading materials on China” list and I continue to welcome suggestions for that as well.