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Review of Seoul International Book Fair 2017

Small and Clear Taste, Permeates Our Life Again

 

2017.6.30

 

The International Book Fair 2017 was held for five days from June 14th to 18th in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. The event was a lively scene, celebrating new trends in the Korean publishing industry with enthusiastic industry insiders and book-lovers.

 

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Beyond Huge Online Bookstores

 

Online bookstores are sweeping around the world, following the trend started by Amazon. Due to this tremendous change, local independent bookstores in our town are closing one after another. People quickly get used to the convenience of online bookstores, left behind the memories of sitting down to read books in bookstores and returning to discover the rest of the stories. People pick up either recommendations or bestsellers from website as the trendy topics fill the streets, so our taste becomes more common place. After discovering that books can be trendy, the Korean book market faced a new challenge. Reading publics who were tired of boring books, started to seek out small bookstores and the diversity of independent magazines.

 

Prevalence of Online Bookstores

∆ Prevalence of Online Bookstores

 

World Literature Series by “Changbi Publishers”

∆ World Literature Series by “Changbi Publishers”

 

The Age of Bookstores Returns

 

The most notable programs from the Seoul International Book Fair 2017 are the “Era of Bookstores” and the “Exhibition of Book Discovery”, which were influenced by the current market situation. Two groups are necessary for writers and readers to meet each other, publishers and bookstores. These programs featured unique places to visit. The “Era of Bookstores” lists 20 independent local bookstores that receive popular word of mouth and have strong social media. We see that the owners have diverse taste: Dong-A Bookstore, operating for 61 years at the same location over three generations, Mystery Union, selling more than 1,600 detective novels selected by the owner, Deer Bookstore, which promotes visual design books such as picture books, art books, and graphic novels. In addition, Your Mind, which has been a prominent promoter of independent publications supporting small local publishers and artists and ‘Schrödinger’, which sells and collects only books related to cats.
Not only do these bookstores have distinct tastes, but also there are publishers with great perseverance. The “Exhibition of Book Discovery”, invited 40 independent publishers to produce books based on their clear philosophy. Their books cover various topics such as the link between science and the humanities, and domestic creative picture books.

 

Borim Press publishes primarily picture books

∆ Borim Press publishes primarily picture books'

 

Sajeokin Bookshop recommends books after consultation

∆ Sajeokin Bookshop recommends books after consultation

 

Discovering Books from Abroad

 

The International Exhibition allows you to discover books from other countries; this is the program you cannot skip at the Seoul International Book Fair. This year’s host country is Turkey. The Turkish booths promoted books selected by local publishers and distributed a large number of books as a giveaway to visitors. Furthermore, it offered a good opportunity to experience foreign books, which are difficult to find in Korea, as it included participation from diverse countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), Japan, and France. The Japan Foundation booth promoted original novels about popular Japanese dramas or movies and books that have been in high demand.
The booth from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea was another spot to stop by. They support Korean classic literature by translating pieces into e-books and attracted attention by displaying their translated work using visual images and a digital device that could read the actual work. Additionally, the international conference included lectures by foreign publishing experts to promote interaction with oversea markets.

 

 e-Book Published by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea

∆e-Book Published by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea

 

Visitors at International Exhibition

∆ Visitors at International Exhibition

 

Promote Fun in Reading

 

Free and various ways of enhancing the reading experience were promoted all over the space with bookstores and publishers sharing lots of books. In particular, the “Literature Vending Machine” attracted the crowd. It prints phrases on the receipt to attract people who feel pressure to spend time selecting and reading books. The interesting part is that it has a short button to receive a short phrase and long button for a long phrase, corresponding to two to three passages. The “Book Reading Bus”, which provided seats and storytelling for children, was popular as well. Moreover, the Literature Translation Institute of Korea provided a “Braille Bookmark Corner” to support its production of braille books, and it gained a lot of attraction with its unique experience. At the same time, the change to more e-books and its development was discussed by all ages.

 

Button for Phrases of “Literature Vending Machine”

∆ Button for Phrases of “Literature Vending Machine”

 

In the middle of Storytelling at “Book Reading Bus”

∆ In the middle of Storytelling at “Book Reading Bus”

 

Enjoy Five Days Traveling with Books

 

The Seoul International Book Fair 2017 hosted 276 Korean publishers and 80 international publishers from around the world in the exhibition; these participants provided twice as many events when compared to last year. As a result, 200,000 visitors gathered the event, and publishers believe that the Korean publishing industry will be revitalized again. The Korean publishing industry maintains a high potential with publishers of new works and special bookstores of attracting repeat customers and new readers who follow their own taste.

 

 


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