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Korean Publishers


Bombom Publishing Co.

Unique Picture Books Made with Love




Picture books were often regarded as “books only for children.” Driven by the growing interest of adult readers in picture books, however, a number of “picture books for adults” have been published lately. “What are picture books for adults?” In search of the answer to the question, Bombom Publishing Co. is dedicated to redefining them as “books that both adults and children can enjoy” from “books that adults can merely read,” and to publishing picture books covering all genres. We had the opportunity to feel the publisher’s commitment to its readers, along with a passion for picture books.



The logo of Bombom Publishing Co.



It is our pleasure to have Bombom Publishing Co. in K-Book Trends’ interview. Please introduce the company and its mission to our global readers.


“Bombom” of “Bombom Publishing Co.” means “seeing spring (“bom” is the noun of “boda” in Korean, which means “to see”).” Bombom Publishing Co. was established in 2003 with a commitment to giving hopes and dreams to children, who are like a sprout in spring, and has been publishing delicate and beautiful picture books for them ever since. However, we still have a lot more things to try and dreams to reach.


What does Bombom think, as a picture book publisher, are the traits and competitive edges of picture books?


Until recently, picture books were often associated with “books for children.” However, publishers have created the trend of “picture books for adults” by incorporating various features into the books and started to launch their own picture book brands. I think the true power of picture books lies in creating a culture that all generations can enjoy. “An art museum that resides in a book,” “emotions that change whenever reading,” and “resounding messages that are conveyed not only by words but by pictures” are some of the exemplary explanations that well depict the distinctive traits of picture books.



One of the unique traits of picture books is
that they are enjoyed by all generations.



Bombom publishes picture books not only for children but for elementary schoolers, teenagers, and even adults. What do you consider when publishing books for children and for adults?


As I mentioned above, more and more publishers are releasing “picture books for adults.” They are launching their own brands or series to set them apart from the existing trend in publishing. We have also seen the need to keep up with the trend that changes over time.
However, we did not have to create such series or brands. That is because we have realized that the books that we have been and will be publishing can already be enjoyed by children and adults alike. People often say picture books are “hard to sell” since they show the beauty of the world rather than give a lesson, and provide food for thought rather than focus on a specific subject. We are publishing books that are open to interpretation and that trigger different feelings by generation.
Our books transcend generations. They are for readers across all age brackets. Although none of our books are children- or adults-only, books with exotic stories are generally more popular among children, while books that give a deep and resonating message are more loved by adult readers.


I can see that Bombom also joined overseas book fairs as well as those in Korea. Which book of Bombom grabbed the attention of foreign readers?


I have been joining the “Bologna Children’s Books Fair” every year in Italy, although I missed it in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have also participated in the “Visiting Books Fair” in Tokyo, Japan. Among other books, Midnight’s Gift, I Hate My Dad!, I Hate My Mom!, and Where is Baby Planula’s Home? have been well received in book fairs overseas, joined by different people around the world.
I first read Midnight’s Gift at the Bologna Children’s Books Fair 2014. The book is the 1st work of Hong Soon-mi, and she published it after five years of preparation and dedication. Pictures inserted in the book are drawn with “Hanji,” Korea’s traditional paper, which triggers the curiosity of global readers. The book was exported to Brazil, France, Spain, and China before and after it was published in Korea.
On the covers of I Hate My Dad! and I Hate My Mom! are a father and mother leaving home and a child with a grumpy face. The literal translation of the Korean titles would be I Throw Away My Dad and I Throw Away My Mom, but we chose to use the word “hate” instead of “throw-away” in the English titles. The child comes to hate her father for not picking up a fried chicken on his way home and her mother for nagging her so badly. I thought the book would be relevant only in Korea. Surprisingly, however, it drew readers’ attention in France and Japan for its relevance and was later exported to Indonesia.
Contrary to the adorable title and cover, Where is Baby Planula’s Home? in fact, warns of serious environmental pollution. The book features a narrative of baby Planula (the name of a cell before growing into coral) in which a community of colorful and beautiful coral disappears after suffering from bleaching caused by rising water temperatures. In fact, more picture books on the environment have been published since climate change became an urgent global issue. The book was introduced at many book fairs, became popular among global readers highly concerned about environmental challenges, and was exported to Taiwan recently.






Midnight’s Gift, I Hate My Dad!, I Hate My Mom!, and Where is Baby Planula’s Home?



Bombom has been giving lectures on picture books and working extensively to nurture picture book writers. Of course, it is by no means easy for Bombom, a publisher, to work beyond publishing. Still, the company cares about fostering writers. Why? What is the motivation?


The first thing you can see on my company’s Instagram and Twitter accounts are the phrases “We work to spread the practice of reading picture books” and “Picture books make the world beautiful.” We believe that the more people enjoy and care about picture books, the more likely they are to buy and own them, which will eventually support the growth of the “picture book industry.”
In line with such belief, the Picture Book Association has recently launched a campaign to add a “picture book writer” to the list of professions on Naver’s “Myprofile.” As a result, picture books must be valued even more greatly in Korea, which will help the writers to come up with better works and publishers to introduce quality books to the public. This virtuous cycle will ensure readers continue enjoying decent picture books.
Meanwhile, such a virtuous cycle requires a wider adoption of the “practice of reading picture books.” Our representative director and I are working relentlessly to give the impression that “a picture book amounts to an art museum” to those unfamiliar with picture books and to help more readers become a fan of picture books. The three employees, along with the representative director of Bombom Publishing Co., truly enjoy reading picture books and hope the readers can feel Bombom’s energy and joyfulness.


Bombom is actively engaging in communication with readers through social media or book events. How does such communication contribute to publishing books?


People normally buy books from a bookstore or online. Therefore, manufacturers (publishers) of goods (books) do not often have the opportunity to meet their consumers (readers). However, in Korea, publishers are lucky enough to participate directly in different events.
We first tried hard to take part in many events to promote Bombom, such as local reading festivals, the Seoul International Book Fair, childhood education exhibitions, or baby fairs of private companies. There are still a number of readers who get to know Bombom Publishing Co. on those occasions. In addition, readers we meet at those events or those who communicate via social media provide a lot of “support.” This helps us believe that we, though we pursue a unique path, are on the right track, and that we should publish more books unique to Bombom with more confidence.



As a manufacturer needs feedback on their products,
the feedback of readers is valuable to a publisher



Bombom is planning to host various events for the readers, such as a book signing event and a picture book exhibition. What was the most meaningful event that Bombom has ever held?


We, of course, try to publish quality books for those who love our books, but I myself am also a great fan of picture books. Thus, I went to many meetings with authors arranged by other publishing companies. Bombom once hosted an event that tried to improve upon the shortcomings of other author meetings from the standpoint of a reader who goes to such meetings to meet the author in person. The event was titled “Dinner with a Picture Book Author.” We invited 6-8 readers to a dinner, where they can eat and talk with the author and the editor at the same table.
While it is a good idea to invite the author to give a speech in an auditorium in front of a crowd, readers are much happier when they directly interact with the author. I once had dinner with one of our representative authors, Britta Teckentrup. I was very excited, and the memory of the dinner is so invaluable that it cannot be replaced with anything else. That is why I arranged a similar event, to share such memories with our readers. Unfortunately, it has not been arranged for a few years due to COVID-19, but we plan to resume the event if possible.
First, a curator walks the readers through the illustrations of a picture book, and they share their opinions on the illustrations as well as the book. Then, they have dinner together and engage in friendly discussions with the author, get a signed book, and take photos together, which are special activities they can only experience at the event. I couldn’t be prouder than when the readers leave with their faces beaming after the event is over. I hope to see those faces again after COVID-19 subsides.


It must have been refreshing to meet the readers in person, rather than through books. What was the reaction of the readers, and how did you feel?


When publishing books, we hope that a certain message is delivered to the readers, though the intent is not clearly visible. There are some readers who come to the book events and say that they received that message. That is when I feel satisfied that the intended message was well delivered and gain more confidence in publishing Bombom’s books.
An editor delivers the author’s message to the readers by using a book as the medium. The message may or may not be explicitly stated in the book. The role of the editor and the publisher is to help the message become more noticeable. This is one of the goals of Bombom Publishing Co., a publisher that sees the world with picture books, and through picture books.





How to Eat an Apple, How Many Butterflies?, and A Gut Day in My Village



What books do you want to recommend to foreign readers, among those that have not been published overseas (including new releases)?


This January, Bombom published the 100th picture book titled How to Eat an Apple. The poem was written by Jeon Byeong-ho and illustrated by Song Seon-ok. The book got a facelift thanks to the illustrations. The narrator of the poem and the illustrations are completely distinguished, and the narrator of the poem is revealed through the book cover. Readers must find the chemistry between the poem and the illustrations reflected in the front and back covers, and in the book itself, to enjoy the book to the fullest.
Bombom Publishing highly prioritizes Korean culture. For example, we published a series on the gods of Korea, feeling sorry for the children who only remember the Greek Gods. We even published a picture book on children’s songs that are at least 30 years old, and a picture book reflecting the traditional culture of Korea. How Many Butterflies? is a counting book that contains folk paintings. It is in the form of an accordion book, to emphasize the characteristic of folk paintings that are drawn on a folding screen. The painting is derived from “Munjado,” a traditional painting of letters. Although the book does not use any numbers, children can study numbers by counting the different number of butterflies on each page. This book fully embraces the beauty of Korea’s traditional art.
A Gut Day in My Village is a story on “Pungeoje”, a traditional ritual performed in old times to pray for a big catch. Some told Bombom that we need to be bold to publish a book about “gut”, as most Koreans are prejudiced on the subject. However, gut is clearly also a form of art performed by our ancestors. The “Dano-gut” festival of Gangneung, which prays for good harvest, a big catch, and peace in families, was registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. When prejudices are put aside, the gut is a festival where people can bond with others and have fun through art. The author used to watch gut in her village with her grandmother during her childhood, and hopes to tell the story of gut in a picture book to today’s children.


We look forward to the future steps of Bombom Publishing Co. Please share with us some plans or goals of the company going forward.


We, Bombom Publishing Co., still want to try a lot of things. The Representative Director always says, “I want to try everything that can be done with a picture book,” and I also want to publish more books that are unique to Bombom, a bias-free publisher. We will continue to make picture books in more diverse forms and textures, books that overwhelm readers with feelings after reading, and books that are worth buying. Bombom is not a fast mover, but we will take time to publish quality books and be entirely committed to each and every book. We hope to make picture books that can thoroughly deliver a message. We will work hard to impress our readers, so that people think, “Bombom does great even with these types of books, as expected,” rather than “It is unusual for Bombom to publish these types of books.”




#Bombom Publishing Co.#Picture Book#Bologna Children’s Books Fair#Picture book publisher
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