Marketing in Korean Bookstores:
Faster and unlike anyone else
“Faster and unlike anyone else” - this is a phrase from a popular Korean song. No item is exempt from this rule, but it is a hot topic in the Korean publishing and distribution market. Because of the fixed book price system, price competition among retailers is impossible in Korea. Shipping competition, which was fierce in the early days of online bookstores, has also faded. This is because there is not much difference in the delivery speed between bookstores. Competition for merchandise is still fierce but less so than before for various reasons, including readers’ fatigue with merchandise and rising production costs. So, how can bookstores promote their books “faster and unlike anyone else”?
First, let’s talk about recovers. Publishers have been changing book covers for a long time for reasons such as revisions. Yet, recovers at bookstores are not only done by publishers, but also by bookstores. Examples include Yes24’s “Yes Recover,” Aladin’s “Another Cover,” and Kyobo Book Centre’s “Recover:K.” The names are different, but the workflow is similar. Since limited edition marketing is the essence of recovers, there has to be a demand for the limited edition. Books that are already loved are a priority. Recovered books are created at the request of a bookstore and are a one-time supply. Due to the inventory burden on the bookseller’s end, they are produced in quantities that can be sold out in 2-3 months at most. The number of copies a publisher produces at a time varies, but it is usually between 1,000 and 2,000, meaning the book must be in high demand to sell that many copies in two to three months.
Recovers of Use of History and If We Cannot Move at the Speed of Light published as a part of the “Yes Recover” project, marking 200,000 copies sold
The rest of what you need, along with a good reason, is the “physicality.” This is the characteristic of recover marketing, which is to create a sense of ownership in readers by changing the physical appearance of the book with the same content. It would be great if the fanbase of an existing book would purchase it for the mere fact that it is a limited edition with a different cover, but not many books have such a fanbase. Inevitably, you also need to try to stimulate the desire of non-fans to buy the book. It is obviously better to have a new cover that looks better than the old one. A beautiful cover is also a great way to create merchandise for the book. However, this is easier said than done. Covers are a matter of personal preference, and the quality of cover design in Korean publications is high - so it is not always easy to make a cover better than the existing one. Therefore, other methods are used to stimulate the desire to collect the recovered book. A typical example is hardcover books that add a sense of luxury. However, due to the overall increase in production costs, hardcover covers are becoming increasingly difficult to produce unless the book has a large production run. Adding a personalized message or signature from the writer could increase the value of the cover.
Books with new covers from the “Yes Recover” project of Yes24
Next is funding. Book funding, which used to be mainly conducted by crowdfunding platforms such as Tumblbug and Wadiz, is also being actively carried out by bookstores. For example, Yes24 introduces books under the name of “Grae Bindery” and Aladin presents books under the name of “Book Fund.” Funding is a way to introduce meaningful books for the first time. As a reader, you can get the book with your name written on it, as well as limited edition merchandise. The difference between funding on a crowdfunding platform and a bookstore is membership. Whereas the average user of a crowdfunding platform is a casual reader (who reads an average of 4-5 books a year), members of a bookstore are book lovers. While the books that perform well on crowdfunding platforms tend to be those with high-end physical properties, in bookstores, even ordinary paperbacks can raise a lot of funds. As such, many readers are interested in funding in bookstores if the book itself has excellent value, even if its physical properties are not fancy, such as poetry, fiction, non-fiction, humanities, history, and so on.
Daily Liberal Arts and Toemarok, funded by Grae Bindery, run by Yes24
For these reasons, recovers and funding run by bookstores will continue for the foreseeable future. However, as not all covers and funding are successful, the hunt for the jade stone will continue. Recovers will be a collaboration between publishers and bookstores focusing on improving the physical properties of the book, including the cover. Since funding is centered on books that are being introduced for the first time, publishers and booksellers are expected to come up with ideas for promotional materials such as card news and copies that can intuitively convey the appeals of the book to readers.
Written by Son Min-Gyu (In charge of humanities and society books at Yes24)
Son Min-Gyu (In charge of humanities and society books at Yes24)#Bookstore#Recover#Book funding#Fixed book price system