Audio-books & Chinese Literature?

One thing’s missing in my life

One thing in Chinese that seems to be missing, really
One thing that for the English lingua the British and the Yankees do equally so well
As indeed they should
Good, quality, audio-books
That’s what’s missing
Books that you can listen to, too
To enjoy literature by much loved Chinese writers
And this, I’d say, for all sorts of incongruous and private reasons
Like, suppose, if you’re an acoustic gourmet like me, or a blind person or old-age pensioner,
Or one of these bizarre foreigners, possibly an illiterate brat,
Or just a keen student of Mandarin
Or simply too busy really to waste precious looking time
Just reading complicated words you know nothing about
Audio-books in Chinese, I say, some at least would be most welcome
There’s a market, I suspect, but maybe there isn’t!

So, what’s the problem?

Any native thought on that?


There’s a bit of that
But nothing on a grand scale
That you could make a buck with


The best Mandarin textbook + CD in terms of standard pronunciation and quality recording I have found in Japan (NHK something, traditional funny stories). A few non-standard sounds and structures I would put down to the Beijing birthplace of the author.

In Paris, the best you could find is a four-volume 2001 WanLi textbook. Made in HK for Cantonese speakers, presumably those who still want to have a career after 1997. Reasonably good pronunciation but the recording could be better. The text is the best I have found. Real-life and no messing about it.

Also one from the Chinese University in HK (2002?). Excellent but boring text for business people already proficient in Mandarin Chinese. But there’s quite a few non-standard sounds here and there. Probably to help HK people make inroads into the new big market next door.


I expect Beijing to come up to
speed within one or two years in
terms of material for learning
Mandarin Chinese. All there is
available in France coming from
there is poor quality, but
it shouldn’t last. There are
already good quality poetry tapes
(only the classics, that I know of).


The Big Market

In fact, soon there’s going to be a pretty
big market for audio-books in Mandarin.

Wait, no, it’s already there!
There is a big market. Audio-books are mostly
for fluent Mandarin speakers, right? Well, that’s Chinese people, mostly, and there’s a lot of them too.

Mainland Chinese Middle-class :

   200 million (so I'm told)

Business sense anybody?


I’ve thought about that too, in fact I was going to have a look for some when I’m in Beijing in August. But it sounds like I shouldn’t bother. Are there really no audio books available - I mean, novels rather than textbooks?

By the way, I’ve got a copy of Chun (Ba Jin) published by Sinlingua which comes with tapes. It’s a cut down student version with some English vocab and I think they do other abridged version of classics. Don’t know if that is any help to you.


I think that’s Qiu (Autumn) I’ve got, by Sinalingua too (obviously), but the sound is no good at all and that’s a pity because the guy who does the voice is really good.

Chinese friends over there haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for (nor in Taiwan). Never been to Beijing myself and I don’t know what you can expect. Things are moving so fast at the moment you won’t know till you’re there.
Shanghai may be slightly ahead here.

Please tell me if you find something.

Look out for plays, too. It doesn’t export too well but if in Beijing you should be able to find some. I have Jia (family) and again I think the acting voice is really good (poor recording again and the story is grating on my unfortunate brain).

I think “current affair” stories should be in order now, let bygones be bygones, it’s not for lack of good books.


Why would anyone expect to find loads of Chnese literarture in an audio-tape. Half the time people don’t understand what modern rock songs mean unless they read the Chinese lyrics. Chinese has many homonyms, and a popular literary tool is to use these as literary devices. Thus, one of your audio books might possess someone say shi, shi, shi, shi and you won’t have any clue what they mean unless you could read the characters. This might be the real reason why there are no audio books. You’d still need to refer to a book to have them make any sense.

~ Ah, and a good thing it is! ~

As far as I know, you have always the book. And there’s nothing wrong with having the book as well.

If you have a good book, you can appreciate
the listening and the reading at the same time.
That’s what I like to do with all English books.
It’s a different kind of pleasure. The reading
give substance to the listening. You get closer
to the literary value of the writing,
slightly away from the story line.

And if the Chinese themselves need the book,
that will make it cheaper, sort of. :wink:


good point