Current status of each field in the Korean publishing market
⑧ Publication of practical books for social activities
Among practical books that provide knowledge and information useful for daily life, those excluding “practical books for home” including areas such as child nurturing, cooking, healthcare, and hobbies were categorized as “practical books for social activities.” From the broader perspective, this category can include several publication genres such as economy & business administration (K-Book Trends Vol. 22), self-development (K-Book Trends Vol. 24), and others useful for carrying out social activities. This month, we would like to take a deeper look at foreign language and travel books, concentrating on the narrow spectrum of “practical books for social activities.”
According to the sales statistics of Kyobo Bookstore, a representative bookstore both online and offline in Korea, foreign language books accounted for about 6.1% of its total sales, while travel books covered 1.4%. Also, 12 titles of language books were included among the top 200 bestsellers in the first half of this year, showing a high demand for English books. While the sales of foreign language books began to make an upcurve from 2018, that of travel books has been losing steam from 2018. However, the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak this year has shaken the publication market for foreign language and travel books. As exams for TOEIC or TOEFL that are deemed a must for getting a job or studying overseas were canceled or postponed, relevant markets were greatly hit as well. Also, the sales of travel books almost halved year on year as traveling overseas was largely banned worldwide. This helped books for domestic trips see an upward curve, where previously they had been relatively unnoticed by consumers. In particular, as the relationship between Korea and Japan greatly deteriorated last year due to a conflict over historical affairs, demand for Japanese books and travel books dropped significantly.
The market for foreign language books is largely divided into English and other languages. English accounts for an overwhelmingly large portion of total sales. English books are then subdivided into TOEIC/TOEFL books for college students and “easy English” books for people in their 30s and 40s. Books such as Hackers TOEIC Vocabulary (Hackers Education Group) published by the Hackers Education Group take the majority of the TOEIC/TOEFL books market in Korea, followed by YBM, etc. For other languages, Chinese and Japanese – languages of the neighboring countries, German, French and Spanish – traditionally learned second foreign languages, and Arabian – a highly selected subject for the college admission exam account for a huge proportion in sum.
English Conversation, The Miracle of 100 Days,
The educational curriculum for elementary, middle, and high schools focuses on raising grades for school and college admission based on sub-materials, exercise books, EBS materials, academies, and online lectures. Therefore, these form a very big educational market. Yet, compared to this, the language-related market for adults, including publications is relatively small. Believe it or not, but language books for adults tend to have titles that try to boost up their morale for learning English again, frequently using the word “miracle.” Examples are English Conversation, The Miracle of 100 Days (NEXUS), HackersTalk The 10-Minute Miracle for English Conversation: Speak Using Basic Sentence Patterns (Hackers Education Group), Miraculous 1000 Words for Basic English Speaking (SiWonSchool), HackersTalk The 10-Minute Miracle for English Conversation: Travel English (Hackers Education Group), and 100 Days of Miracle for Traveling: English (NEXUS). Even though learning a language solely depends on the efforts of the learner, these books have put “miracle” in their titles wishing for one to happen, encouraging people that they can really do it.
Chinjeolhan Daehak’s English Class, 100 Basic Daily English: Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs, Hanging On! English Vocabulary for Elementary Schoolers
In the field of English vocabulary, VOCA Bible 4.0 (Step Up) written by Heo Min is popular, which is based on the analysis of the past 30 years’ English exams and has published its 4th revised edition. Meanwhile, for English grammar, Hackers Grammar Gateway Basic (Hackers Education Group) written by David Cho,that puts up the slogan “mastering basic English grammar in a month,” American English Grammar 1: Nouns (Saramin) and American English Grammar 2: Verbs & Tenses (Saramin) by Kim Ah-Young that come with an MP3 file, 100 Basic Daily English: Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs (Tomato4u) written by Seo Jang-Hyuk were bestsellers. Also, Hackers New TEPS Reading (Hackers Education Group) and Hackers New TEPS Listening (Hackers Education Group) written by David Cho, English expression Power-Up Dictionary (Darakwon) written by Lee Chang-Soo, and Hackers Easy Reading 100 (Hackers Education Group) are high in demand.
As the coronavirus restricted people from moving across borders, the sales of books about overseas traveling dropped sharply. However, instead, guide books for domestic traveling and travel essays have clearly taken their place. For books about overseas traveling, regions such as Danang have outpaced Europe, the US, and Japan.
I walked and walked in search of unfamiliar life, Traveling Korea Today,Bucket List 101 for Traveling Korea
In terms of travel guides for domestic trips, Traveling Korea Today (RH Korea) written by Ok Mi-Hye, Guide for Traveling Around Korea (Sangsang) written by Yoo Cheol-Sang, and Bucket List 101 for Traveling Korea written by Choi Mi-Seon topped the sales list. Among these, Traveling Korea Today is a compact guide book that introduces 738 hot places in 32 preferred cities of travelers, along with nice restaurants and cafes. It is unique that it recommends 22 themed trips.
Almighty Home-Meal Journey of Le Grand Chef Heo Young-Man, Tasty Guys, Oh! My Guam
For books about traveling overseas, Spain Day and Italia Day of the Terra’s Day series written by Jeon Hye-Jin and published by TERRA, 5 European Countries (Kakao Friends Special Edition) of Sigongsa’s Just go series written by Choi Cheol-Ho, Spain, Portugal by Kang Hye-Won, one of the Easy series of Trust Books, Hawai: Traveling Alone (Sangsang) by Jung Kkotnarae, Western America, Canada, and Eastern America of the Friends series of Joongang Books written by Lee Ju-Eun, Spain and Portugal and Eastern Europe by Park Hyeon-Sook, Singapore by Park Jin-Ju, and New Zealand and Danang of Hanbit Publishing Network’s Real series have been hot among readers. Meanwhile, If You Have to Choose, Portland (Mojosa) written by Lee Young-Lae, Slowly, Alone: Eastern Europe (Sangsang) by Kim Hyeon-Gil, and Oh! My Guam (2 Human Beings) by Samdori and Yang Seul-Ah that introduce the genuine charm of certain regions have been popular as well. When the persisting pandemic ends, and we can once again cross borders at ease, the markets for traveling and language books will be reinvigorated again.
Written by Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)
Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)