게시물 상세

Publishing Industry

 

Korean Book Publishers Eye Webnovels and Webtoons

Why is Dasan Books starting an entertainment business?

 

2022.04.04

 

With the global mega-hit of “Squid Game” on Netflix in 2021, the world began to take a greater interest in Korean content. Other webtoon-based dramas, including “Hellbound” and “We Are All Dead,” are seeing good records as well, and Korean webtoon platforms such as Piccoma, Line Manga, and Tapas are rapidly growing in the global market. Now webtoons are rising as the next driver of Korean content, or K-content, which has been represented by K-pop.
Korean book publishers are also greatly interested in webtoons and webnovels. General publishers such as Woongjin Thinkbig, Dasan Books, and Wisdom House have shown a clear movement in this regard. It also seems that those that have not yet started a relevant business are paying heed to the webnovel and webtoon business, the newly emerging field in the content industry.

 

Current status of book publishers’ digital content business

 

The digital content business of Korean book publishers has been focused on e-books until today. Korea’s e-book market has been steadily growing, particularly since 2008, and has been paying much attention to the audiobook market from 2-3 years ago. Audiobook-specialized platforms such as Welaaa and Millie have received focused investment, and more audiobooks have entered the market. Storytel, a global audiobook platform, joined the Korean market as well. If e-books and audiobooks shifted publishers’ content into digital format to diversify sales strategies, webnovels and webtoons are more suited to mobile devices.
The traditional way of publishing books was to take paper books as the basic sales item, then write, edit, produce, distribute, and market them. However, the emergence of a new market gave the publishing industry the important task of reengineering the way of producing, distributing, and selling content.

 

?

?

Covers of The Story of Yeonhwa webnovel version (left) and webtoon version (right)

 

 

Dasan Books have been experimenting with adapting to the digital content business. Digital-only content such as Living as a BJ (Broadcasting Jockey), published in 2014, was the first attempt. It was an e-book about online BJs such as popular Twitch streamers and Youtubers in Korea. The experiment we did was rapidly making content with a short runtime and selling it to the fandoms at a low price. The e-book became a bestseller and went viral among fans of the influencers mentioned in the book, but it was hard to go beyond that. So, Dasan Books re-established the direction of the digital content business with “story content.” We focused on publishing webnovels that had a strong genre, such as romance and fantasy. At the same time, we continued to make attempts to expand the webnovels’ category. We tried to “webnovel-ize” detective, mystery, and thriller fiction by collaborating with Kakaopage and CJ E&M through “Mobile Novel Contest” and “Chumith (combination of ‘churi’ meaning detective, ‘mi’ from mystery, and ‘th’ from thriller),” respectively. Dasan Books published a number of titles, but I particularly remember the webnovel The Story of Yeonhwa the best. We also did PR for this title at the Asia Content & Film Market held at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). As a result, Living as a BJ was made into a webtoon to be published in Korea and abroad, and is scheduled to be produced as a drama as well.
Dasan Books have published more than 500 webnovels by setting up labels for digital content only - “Blossom” for feminine fiction, “Monster” for masculine fiction, and “Labien” for BL (Boy’s Love) fiction. And we launched a webtoon business in 2019, creating a comics label called “Dasan Comics.” Dasan Comics’ role is to turn original novels into webtoons to “present the impressive wonders of the original story once again,” and service them in the global market. It is currently serializing 6 webtoons and is planning to produce more than 15 titles in the future. Webtoons serialized by Dasan Comics – The Stairway of Time, Sentence of Love, Wanna Live Sweet, It Was All a Mistake, I Wasn’t the Cinderalla, and This Wolf Won’t Bite recorded more than 50 export cases in 9 countries, signing contracts for overseas serialization. Also, they have been receiving good feedback from the global market, as can be seen from the record of ranking 1st on webtoon platforms such as Piccoma (Japan) and Tapas (US).

 

?

?

?

Webnovels published on “Blossom,” “Monster,” and “Labien” (from left)

 

 

Woongjin Thinkbig also launched a webnovel label named “Fennec Fox,” and Wisdom House set up a webnovel & webtoon platform called “Justoon” (Justoon later merged with Comico, NHN’s webtoon platform). And Golden Bough has developed and is operating “Brit G,” an online novel platform.

 

Advancing from digital content to entertainment

 

The role of the content industry is expanding day by day. Publishers have begun to produce content by directly signing contracts with the creators on platforms, taking an interest in webnovels and webtoons. In addition, authentic music producers/entertainment companies starting with Hive started to produce webnovels and webtoons through separate businesses, and game companies are preparing to launch a music business based on “virtual humans.” As such, you can see that various industries have launched IP businesses covering diverse genres and media.
So, it is time for the publishing industry to expand into the entertainment business as well, going beyond the content business. We need to broaden our viewpoint – from books to content, readers to customers, and writers to creators. We should strive to do more than just selling books. We should lay out our content business in various formats and invite more people to enjoy our content.
Meanwhile, the digital business sector at Dasan Books has changed its name to Entertainment Business Division on January 1st this year, restructuring the organization by specializing teams in each business field. If the company has been in the digital content business such as e-books, webnovels, and webtoons so far, the next goal is to expand into a global entertainment business centered on webnovels and webtoon IPs.
Then, why is Dasan Books preparing to leap forward into the entertainment business?
First, we are consolidating the webnovel business that we have been running well. Then, if we focused on the romance and fantasy genre in consideration of “webtoon-ization” last year, we plan to expand to the BL genre this year. Also, in the case of the romance genre, we are focusing on the development of IP that can be expanded into dramas. We are also preparing a project to develop webnovels, webtoons, and dramas at the same time by collaborating with drama production companies from the planning stage.
Second, we are expanding our webtoon business in earnest. We are expanding the team in charge and workforce so that we can serialize more than 50 types of titles within three years. We are also considering opening a webtoon studio so that we can develop higher-quality works. So, if we ran the webtoon business by cooperating with authors before, now we are planning to recruit authors directly and advance the production process to provide more immersive webtoons to readers. Also, we are closely communicating with local platforms in each country by hiring members talented in the overseas webtoon business.

 

?

?

?

?

Dasan Comic’s Sentence of Love, Wanna Live Sweet, I Wasn’t the Cinderalla, and This Wolf Won’t Bite

 

 

Third, we are expanding our new media business. For example, our Youtube channel “Smartmandoo” is a knowledge-oriented entertainment brand that aims for a B-class liberal arts channel. We started it to make various topics that stimulate intellectual curiosity into original character animations and cover them in an easy and fun way. Within only two years of opening the channel, the number of subscribers exceeded 620 thousand, and the cumulative number of views reached 120 million. Smartmandoo currently aims to reach 1 million subscribers, and is preparing to expand the scope of its IP business, including books, merchandise, and webtoons.
Fourth, we are trying out the music business. In 2021, Dasan Books made an attempt to produce webtoon OSTs and distribute them itself; we directly invested in and produced 5 OSTs for the webtoon Staircase of Time. As a result, there were meaningful outcomes, too – the songs “At the End of Time” and “Last Trip,” each produced in collaboration with Eunha of Gfriend and Kim Nam-Joo of Apink, entered the rankings chart of music platforms. Through the songs, we could again convey the touching impression of the original works to the fans in a musical form. There were also good outcomes in the global market as well. We verified that overseas fans of the singers took an interest in the original works through the songs. At the moment, Dasan Books’ songs are serviced on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube Music.
Now, Dasan Books plans to produce various OSTs for webnovels and webtoons, including the song. It was All a Mistake, which is currently under production. We aim to position webtoon OST as a new K-pop genre by merging the fandom of Korean webtoons and music. Also, going beyond simply producing and distributing music, we plan to gradually expand into a music entertainment business based on virtual humans.

 

?

?

Staircase of Time and It was All a Mistake

 

 

Fifth, Dasan Books is diversifying products of webnovels and webtoons. If we focused on selling digital content such as webnovels and webtoons before, we are now planning to launch various products, including books, merchandise, clothes, and food. We have established a team that will be in charge of this, and they are endeavoring to develop fine products today.
Lastly, we will continuously be carrying out research and various experiments on metaverse and NFT. Currently, the whole world is at the beginning of a vast change called the metaverse. Dasan Books is preparing to respond to this change, though it is yet hard to offer details of our plan.

 

With the world’s growing interest in K-content,
Korean publishers should take on challenges for new changes.

 

To sum up, Dasan Books aims to expand the business into the entertainment sector based on content’s IP. We aim to secure IPs that can earn the hearts of global citizens’ hearts and turn into a worldwide content franchise with powerful fandoms by expanding into various media, merchandise, and businesses. We imagine becoming a place where all the people from the world visit by creating stories that make them feel touched, entertained, and relatable, thus restructuring them into an entertainment world based on metaverse. And to realize this imagination, our dream, we are taking steps forward. However, fundamentally, the greatest desire is to create and deliver masterpieces that leave people all over the world with deep emotions, that make people think once again, that make people around the world forget about their tiring daily life for a while, that make the hearts of people pound, and that make people shed tears. Personally, my heart is racing right now as I know that throughout this year, I will be working hard with my colleagues to complete the mission of Dasan Books - “Deliver the joy of story to people all over the world.”
Meanwhile, we hope Korean publishers take more interest and join us in such a move. We should not just watch webnovels and webtoons growing in the global market. The publishing industry should not fear facing changes and take on challenges in search of opportunity. Readers, creators, and the way content is produced are changing. Now it is our turn to change.

 

 


Written by Seo Dae-Jin (Director of the Entertainment Business Division at Dasan Books)

 

kbbok

Seo Dae-Jin (Director of the Entertainment Business Division at Dasan Books)

#Webnovel#Webtoon#Dasan Books#Digital content#IP
If you liked this article, share it with others. 페이스북트위터블로그인쇄

Pre Megazine