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Korean Publishers


Next Wave

Reading the Flow in the Publishing Industry by Absorbing
the Newest Trend While Staying Close to the Basics




When we see people or businesses sticking to their basic principles amidst the rapidly changing trend and environment, we can’t hold back complimenting them. One of the publishing companies, Next Wave, has been pioneering its path as a publisher, following various trends while holding onto its motto of “We Make Books that Support Your Life” in the drastically changing society. As a mid-sized publishing house, Next Wave has been strengthening its reputation in the publishing industry, publishing books of various genres. It has always been in thirst for content production and new knowledge, and at the center of all, there’s CEO You Jeong-Yeon, who contemplates publishing books that can respond to the generational spirit in the future. Following is an interview with her, who is vigorously sailing through the waves into the future with a clear goal of making books that readers can rely on in life.



Logo of Next Wave



Please introduce publishing house Next Wave to the people in the international publishing industry. Also, could you please tell us what meaning is embedded in the company mission “Wave”?


Next Wave is in its 19th year now, has gone through puberty and entered adulthood. It is comprised of the following teams: Editing (Team 1 – in charge of cultural sciences, Team 2 – in charge of business), Marketing, Design, and Management Support. At the infancy stage, Next Wave grew by focusing on business books, and 10 years on, we have expanded the scope to non-fiction, humanities, and fiction. This was a natural expansion of New Wave’s view as we followed the interests of our readers.
The mission “Wave” came from the phrase “Look at the flow, not the phenomenon.” The first meaning of “Wave” is “essentials,” and the second is “trend.” It contains the belief that we should be flexible in responding to the generational changes while staying close to our essentials. Hence, our English name is Next Wave. This is another expression of the company philosophy, which aims to suggest to our readers what to think of and prepare by ceaselessly mulling over the generational spirit in the future.


Next Wave has consolidated its position in the industry as a publisher specializing in books of humanities that breathe with social trends and non-fiction of famous figures. What was the reason behind Next Wave’s decision to focus on these areas?


It might have been just a coincidence or the sound of my heart, but five years before I started publishing humanities books, I devoted myself to studying and attending lectures every early morning. Then, I also put 7 years into studying science. I could not resist my inner curiosity. Perhaps this came from the instinct to satisfy the “mental anomie” left by the once-prevalent neoliberalism. Anyway, the studies gave me the eyes to discover authors with new knowledge, as well as the wisdom to guess the level of readers.



I believe that publishing is an honest field as you reap what you sow.



It is obvious that you learn the wisdom of life through books, but as Next Wave has a motto of “We Make Books that Support Your Life,” Next Wave must be particularly devoted to publishing more books for that goal. Therefore, it is assumed that there will be a more strict and prudent standard when choosing books for publication. What kind of yardstick do you have when choosing books?


The motto “We Make Books that Support Life” is derived from my own experience. In my 20s, which were especially tough, books were like a support for me, clearing my mind and soul, while my body was exhausted. So, Next Wave makes books hoping that they give such a power to others.
When we have to choose a book for publication, it is our rule that we gather opinions from many of our members. If the translation of a book was deemed poor, we went through multiple modifications or even put it through a whole new translation. I have this rather obsessional principle in mind that books filled with difficult to understand sentences should not be given life. So, even though a book has a good concept but a poor manuscript, we gave up publishing it, no matter how much loss it might be, considering the already-paid minimum guarantee and translation fees. We believe that our readers, who send us support and love, recognize our beliefs and efforts to keep them.


Next Wave has been actively engaged in communicating through books. You seem to be contemplating things that publishing houses in this era should do. Any comments on this?


The core nature of media is the message. So, a publishing house should not only plan on messages to deliver but also become the drum of the times that resonate in society. There was a time when people said books were the beginning of all content. But now, after the invention of TV, books have lost their reputation – in this era where computers and mobile devices surround us, books have fallen to the extent where they copy the influences of other media. So, it is no surprise that we, as one of the publishers, have many concerns. However, we believe that people still think of books first when searching for things to know (knowledge) or interesting topics or themes (entertainment). So, we should improve the climate in the publishing industry so that talented people join the field and work in a favorable environment where they can have a sense of accomplishment. Also, we must create a connecting link in many different quarters so that media preferred by readers can lead to books.


Next Wave is now looking into its 20th year. What do you think was the power that helped the company grow well as a mid-sized publishing house?


There were largely two driving forces behind the good growth of Next Wave: our staff members and sincerity. I believe that the most important element is the talented staff I worked with, am working with, and will work with in the future. Also, I believe there is no profession that does not betray hard work as much as publishing. If an individual or an organization grows wider and grows beyond one’s limits by always learning and challenging new things, they will not fall behind. It is the world of publishing we are in, where the results come out honestly as much as we put in our efforts.



Next Wave is trying to break the egg, boldly making various attempts.



The publishing environment is also changing a lot amid the great digital transformation in society. So how is Next Wave preparing for this kind of change in the market?


As the publishing environment and market trends change drastically in a short period of time, it sometimes makes us feel sick when we try to look at the big picture. So, we are thinking of fortifying our capacity starting from the essence of publishing. The most important thing for us is properly understanding what we are publishing and introducing to our readers. It is the most basic job for a publisher, but it is also one of the hardest. After you have become firm enough on the inside, you can then go out to make new attempts outside. We think that a publisher should not be confined to traditional publishing. So, Next Wave is trying to break the egg – the existing frame – and make new, bold attempts. Dismantling orders and genres… we think we should look at the platforms. Readers are choosing to read more short cuts, looking for more images, and using different words and phrases. So, we are trying to make changes to our style as well.


Next Wave has published numerous bestselling books of non-fiction and humanities. Among them, what are the books that you can proudly recommend?


Among all, we recommend reading three books: Lessons of Latin, Golden Hour, and Some Death Told Life.
Every language on Earth reflects its own unique way of thinking and culture. Now a dead language, but if we look at science, biology, and earth science, we see Latin breathing alive, which had been the foundation and system of many studies. The book Lessons of Latin encourages its readers living in the modern era to reflect on the meaning of life and oneself through Latin, a language deeply embedded in every part of our world.
Meanwhile, the book Golden Hour is a report of life and death written by Lee Guk-Jong, a surgeon who has been fiercely struggling at a trauma center for the past 17 years with the belief that “I must save every life that has hope for survival.” Even though it is the story of events taking place in a trauma center, the stories of medical personnel and firefighters fighting every day in demanding reality, as well as the stories of patients and their families, reveal the true face of our society, making readers feel sadness, anger, and empathy, and be greatly touched.
The book Some Death Told Life is a story written by oncologist Dr. Kim Bum-Seok at Seoul National University about what attitudes to have toward life and death with the topic of “How can we prepare for inevitable death? How will you fill the rest of your time in life.”





Lessons of Latin, Golden Hour, and Some Death Told Life



Korean publishing houses are becoming more famous with growing influence in the international market. It seems that Next Wave is also interested in overseas markets. What kind of efforts are you making in relation to overseas publishing? Also, if there are any books that have been popular in overseas markets, please introduce them as well.


We are currently building on Korean fiction to increase the room for overseas export. We are also preparing fiction or SF based on Korean myths or folktales. The book that has been popular in the overseas markets is Lessons of Latin. It was exported to Taiwan and Japan (scheduled to be published in August).


As Next Wave has been strengthening its position with a clear identity for a long time, your next moves are highly anticipated. So, what are your future plans? How do you plan to develop further?


We believe we should be decisive in which field to specialize in and concentrate on in the future. Each team member shall clarify their conviction and direction towards publishing and work hard to attract more readers. This would be the first step for our future. If we mess up the first step, we wouldn’t be able to evolve in the direction we want. Next Wave deeply appreciates all of you for your continued support.




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