Classic Pearl bucks the trend to hit top spot

A 1940s classic novel about a Chinese family in pre-communist China has soared to the top of the Kindle best sellers.

Pavilion of Women by Nobel Laureate Pearl S Buck was published for the Kindle format just over a year ago but has taken the No 1 place this week ahead of big sellers such as J K Rowling/Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling which has dropped to eighth and Lee Child’s High Heat novella which takes fifth spot.

The book rocketed to No 1 from a ranking of around 20,000, boosted by a short-lived promotional price of $1.99 before reverting to $9.65 on

Buck was a humanitarian campaigner who found fame in 1931 with her second novel, The Good Earth, which won the Pulitzer Prize and became a massive best-seller in the US and around the world. She came from a missionary family and spent the first half of her life in China. Buck was a prolific writer and her output includes over 40 novels, around 20 full-length non-fiction works and a couple of dozen collections of short stories.

She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 and the citation for the award refers to, ‘The notable works which pave the way to a human sympathy passing over widely separated racial boundaries and for the studies of human ideals which are a great and living art of portraiture.’

Pavilion of Women, and several other books by Pearl Buck, has been republished by Open Road Media, which specialises in bringing out ebooks from the backlists of popular authors. The company was set up by former Harper Collins CEO Jane Friedman four years ago.

It has widened its reach from general literary fiction into genres such as mystery, romance and science fiction. It offers a 50-50 revenue split with authors and claims to run continuing marketing campaigns for its books. A recent deal saw Open Road raise $11 million in funding from investors to help with further expansion.

Open Road is publishing a new book by Pearl Buck in October. Buck wrote The Eternal Wonder just before she died in 1973 but the book was lost and never published. It was discovered after an auction sale and will now be coming out as an ebook and print book.