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Korean Publishers

 

Moksu Publishing Company

Knowledge that Saves the World, Just Like Trees and Water

 

2022.08.01

 

Carpenters use wood to create furniture, tools, and other daily necessities. Likewise, Moksu Publishing Company (Moksu has two different meanings in Chinese characters: 木水 (moksu, trees and water in Korean); 木手 (moksu, a carpenter in Korean)) or Moksu Chaekbang (literally “a bookstore of trees and water” in Korean), which marks its 9th anniversary this year, has been publishing books necessary for everyday lives, as its name implies. Driven by the commitment and passion toward ecology and the environment, the company has been actively bringing out books in those fields. At a time that requires even more attention to the environment, the publisher strives to convey to readers that all living things are symbiotic and connected. We had a chance to interview Jeon Eun-Jeong, CEO of Moksu Publishing Company, who explores ways to help people take action for environmental protection.

 

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The logos of Moksu Publishing Company

 

 

The name of the company, Moksu Chaekbang (Moksu Publishing Company), is impressive. Please briefly introduce your company and the meaning of its name to the readers of K-Book Trends.

 

I came up with the words “tree” and “water” to contain the value of ecology, environment, and life, since life without water and humanity without trees are both unimaginable. That was also reflected in the company slogan, which is, “Knowledge that Saves the World, Just Like Trees and Water.” The company name demonstrates my commitment to publishing books that deliver knowledge, which is much needed in a time when diversity and sustainability of life matter for our survival. I put “Chaekbang” at the end as I also wanted to open a bookstore with the same name.

 

You were a magazine journalist and editor before running the company. I bet you read a wide range of books during those years in the publishing industry. Of all the fields, why did you choose ecology and nature? And what do you think is fascinating about ecology books?

 

When I decided to start the company, I tried to choose fields that interest me because I took the risk of starting a business, hoping that what I do for a living excites and entertains me. It didn’t take long for me to turn to ecology and nature since I was highly interested in plants and organic farming, and loved trips in nature. Above all, I believed that more readers would develop an interest in ecology and environment as they are no longer a minor field to which only a handful of people pay attention but a direct link to our survival. Although they are not fashionable, they are not transient or sensitive to trends either. Therefore, I chose this path, believing that public awareness of these fields would eventually be raised over time.
Covering everything from practical horticulture to heavier topics such as ecology philosophy, ecology publications have, in fact, been much diversified for a few years. In particular, books on plants and gardening have become more popular than ever. City dwellers are increasingly separated from nature, and these severed or weakened ties might have caused the environmental crisis of today. In this regard, ecology books can help bring us closer to nature. I hope more people find and read books that deliver the core message that contains the ecological knowledge that all creatures, including humans, are connected and “thrive on one another.”

 

 

I think ecology books are much needed as they cover all matters related to human survival.

 

 

What is the driving force behind the steady growth of your company?

 

I would say my company was “holding up” rather than growing. I realized after founding the company that I barely understood ecology, although I was interested in it. That is when I started to thoroughly study the field, earning the Certificate of Forest Interpreter and transferring to the Agricultural Science Department at Korea National Open University.
I went through a lot of trial and error until I published around 10 books because I began my study after launching the business. When managers and editors know little about the field of books they publish, they might not be able to come up with good plans and choose quality books. At that time, I didn’t know any experts or potential authors in ecology either. So, I just continued to study and started to join gatherings of people interested in ecology, building up my relationships. The experts and industry insiders that I met during the times became a great support.

 

You have been running the company for nine years, which is not a short period at all. Please tell us what it was like to run a one-person publishing company.

 

My goal still remains the same: To continue generating enough profit to at least publish the next book and stay afloat. Of the nine years, I lost track for four years, but I find them meaningful as they helped me develop a greater interest in ecology and the environment. Even now, when I edit and publish new books, I still feel like I am exploring a new field. Above all, I am glad that I chose this field whenever my readers say, “You publish good books.”

 

What defines good books and necessary books? What standards do you apply when publishing books?

 

I thought the core message that I should deliver when publishing ecology and environment books is that “all living things are connected and thrive together.” Thus, before publishing, I carefully review whether a book can contain this message.
Most readers who love and buy our books generally have basic knowledge of plants and ecology. Therefore, I try to find books that provide them with noteworthy trends and information on the field. My focus has been on figuring out what a limited number of avid readers in the field want, instead of the preferences of general readers. Further, specialists around me have helped me a lot in selecting books. I have been lately introducing books that are a bit professional but insightful for the readers. Gardening books that we recently published are the primary example, and they have been met with greater enthusiasm than expected.

 

 

I believe the key mission of ecology books is to convey the message of “thriving together.”

 

 

Publications on nature and ecology are steadily read, but only by a small number of people interested. Therefore, making them accessible to the general public is just as important as delivering useful content and information. What efforts are you making to approach the public?

 

In the early days, I wanted to publish ecology books that sell well, but I have recently started to gravitate towards strong expertise instead of weak popularity, believing it would strengthen the sustainability of one-person publishing companies. To be fair, I also plan to introduce ecology publications that can be easily digested. Similar books on ecology and plants have recently flooded the market, so I focus on adopting a fresh perspective from the planning stage. When books are challenging but novel, readers will pay a fair amount of attention. Further, since the beginning of the company, design has been one of the priorities because it is an important factor that attracts readers to own books.

 

Climate change and the environment have become hotly debated topics around the globe. It has become important not only to read books but act on them. What story do you ultimately want to deliver to readers through the books you publish?

 

As I mentioned previously, every book on ecology and environment must send a message on diversity and sustainability that “A healthy and sustainable ecosystem stems from diversity,” and that “humans, too, must do their part and fulfill their responsibility as one of the species that constitute the entire ecosystem.”
With ever heightened awareness of climate change and environmental issues, people express a sense of urgency in their own way. However, a closer look at them tells me that the environmental issues still remain unattended. We are aware that they must be addressed, but we somehow want to turn a blind eye to them because we know too well that climate action would cause inconvenience across our everyday lives. For instance, it is not at all easy to cut down on plastic waste, even though we know we must, due to instant inconveniences.
That is why environment publications must find ways to nudge the readers to realize that environmental issues are “a direct threat to my family and me” not someone else’s business. Such books must adopt a strategy that makes our concern and action on the environment, even at a basic level, look “cool” instead of “righteous.” For example, it would be more effective in garnering action if carrying a tumbler or a handkerchief is viewed not as the “right” thing but as “cool” and “hip.” In some way, I think publication in the field of ecology and environment needs well-crafted marketing strategies.

 

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The VEKE, Seven Seasons and Nine Gardens, My Mother Is a Forest Interpreter, Slow-beauty, Life Changing Vegan Beauty

 

 

Moksu Publishing Company introduces quality foreign books on nature and ecology to Korean readers. What Korean books, among those you have published, would you recommend to foreign readers?

 

I recommend The VEKE, Seven Seasons, and Nine Gardens. The book mainly covers “VEKE,” Korea’s iconic naturalistic garden on Jeju Island, but it does not merely describe a specific place. Naturalistic gardens that are ecologically healthy and beautiful are an important trend in gardening around the world. “VEKE” is not only in tandem with the trend but also features Jeju Island’s distinct geographic nature. That is the reason I recommend the book to readers overseas. The book would be appealing to garden lovers and plant lovers, as it illustrates how “VEKE” was built, helping readers better understand naturalistic gardens.
My Mother is a Forest Interpreter is a book that introduces very simple ecology games that parents and children can play in nature. Since there are trees and woods everywhere in the world, this book, which helps our children romp around in nature and become part of it, will make good, practical material for teaching ecology.
Slow-beauty, Life Changing Vegan Beauty is a beginner’s book and an environment essay on vegan makeup, which is one of the global beauty trends. The book stresses that using vegan beauty products is “an action that cultivates an environmentally-friendly life and that is in the interest of the entire planet,” that goes beyond “an action that simply uses plant-based cosmetic products.”

 

Lastly, please share the company’s direction going forward, as well as the company’s plans.

 

We focus mainly on ecology and environment publications, although we sometimes publish non-ecology books. We plan to continue focusing on the field, building up our expertise. In particular, we want to find and publish must-have books for those studying gardening.

 

 


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#Moksu Publishing Company#Environment#Ecology#Vegan#Garden
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