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Bookstores that Create Books and Culture

Places matured by books, for books, and with books

 

2021.03.08

 

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Publishers and bookstores might be different in that publishers “make books” while bookstores “sell books,” but the common attribute of the two is that they give joy and helpful knowledge to people through books. This is the medium that connects publishers and bookstores, while it is a gift for readers. Meanwhile, the solidarity between independent publications and bookstores is notably stronger than any other. They contribute greatly to the spread of the cultural trend that respects individuals’ preferences, and unique characteristics as independent publications set the stage for their stories to be heard, and independent bookstores mature with their own unique color.
As such, as the two pursue a common goal, more bookstores are carrying out publishing at the same time. Some of them publish books or magazines that embody the bookstore’s unique color. Some others even turn into a publisher and take care of the entire publishing process from content planning, selection, production, printing, and sales. Indeed, some bookstores do not publish books themselves, but put effort into making books shine brighter, and those that explore and study books and share their genuine value with visitors. Such beautiful works of bookstores are spreading the reading culture in various ways. Let’s look into some of the distinct bookstores that never stop taking on challenges for books, by books, and with books.

 

Younji Bookstore: Where little dreams come true

 

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Views of Younji Bookstore

 

 

Younji Bookstore is an unmanned bookstore located in Gwangju, Jeollanam-do Province. Running a membership system, this bookstore covers independent and minor publications. The eye-catching characteristic of Younji Bookstore is that you won’t be able to find the bookkeeper operating the bookstore. As it is open all year round from 9 am to 11 pm, anyone from students to office workers can visit the bookstore at will. Also, the “Slow Post Office” in one corner of the bookstore is another signature characteristic of Younji Bookstore. If you write a letter and put it inside the “Slow Post Office,” it will be sent a year later. People can recall what they had been thinking a year before, and sometimes see how things went so differently from that moment. Thanks to Younji Bookstore in the village, residents can meet various books and cultures more conveniently. Meanwhile, Younji Bookstore is running Younji Publishing Company as well. This company publishes poems, essays, and socially-valuable manuscripts, and has produced more than 60 titles to date.

 

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This is not the end. Younji Bookstore also owns “Indiepub,” a platform for independent publications and a distribution support program. Indiepub was established to improve the inconvenient aspects that the bookkeeper experienced while running the bookstore and publishing company. With this in operation, the bookkeeper is developing independent publishing to be sustainable and healthy. The bookkeeper says, “As indie music is recognized as a separate genre, independent publishing has become a genre of itself.” Indeed, independent publications are settling down as a culture that can be enjoyed by the public, growing from a “minor culture that only a few fanatics know.” The bookkeeper is devoted to developing independent publishing and bookstores because she believes that by helping them break free from capital limitations, the diversity of the publishing culture can be preserved for the distant future. Also, she hopes that many of the residents meet various independent publications in Younji Bookstore and gain energy for their life. It is a hope that such efforts of Younji Bookstore come to fruition one day.

 

Alice’s Variety Space: A quiet place for you to look back on your life

 

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Views of Alice’s Variety Space

 

 

Located in Cheongju, Alice’s Variety Space is a psychology-specialized bookstore run by a clinical counselor. The bookkeeper says that as beds are not only for sleeping but also for dreaming, Alice’s Variety Space is not just a bookstore that sells books, but a place where “people gather around and find reasons to continue their life together.” Indeed, many Cheongju residents visit Alice’s Variety Space and get a warm pat on their backs. This place is also famous for running various programs. For example, “I am a writer, too,” “Alice’s Book Docent,” “Defense Mechanism Explorers,” “Byeolbyeol Bangtam,” “Voice-king Online Book-reading Salon” are programs planned and led by the bookkeeper. She writes books with the participants and hosts lectures on “bibliopsychology,” helping people to discover their true selves. These programs have been revitalizing the exhausted lives of people. The bookkeeper also hosted numerous other programs such as a guitar class, jogging club, and hiking club, but now they are halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, Alice’s Variety Space has been an intermediary that strengthens residents' solidarity through such programs.

 

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Alice’s Variety Space has also published an independent, local literary journal named Byeolbyeolsai. This was a project launched by the bookkeeper who wanted to record trivial but glittering stories of people that come to the bookstore. Her little courage has published the first volume of Byeolbyeolsai, which is filled with simple but compact stories. The budget for the production was funded by people through Tumblbug. This represents how the village and the bookstore are closely linked, as not many succeed in reaching their goal through the crowdfunding platform. A second volume of Byeolbyeolsai has been published to date, but further publication is paused due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the bookkeeper says that the bookstore doing independent publishing is like having psychological counseling in the bookstore. In other words, bookstores that had a unified color in the past transforming into various forms seeking their own color is similar to how we desire to find the undiscovered self in ourselves. Indeed, the journey of finding your true self is quite similar to the independent publishing of bookstores. Such efforts of Alice’s Variety Space are widening the viewpoint of Cheongju residents towards their life, and it is becoming a place that helps people get a hold of “being their true self,” offering the space for relaxation and sharing values amidst the tough daily life. If you want to get a break to ease your life and mind, how about visiting Alice’s Variety Space?

 

Bookstore Kafka: A space complete with the touch of books

 

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Views of Bookstore Kafka

 

 

Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do Province. Once you walk down from the Jeonju Hanok Village for about 5 minutes, you will be able to find Bookstore Kafka, a cozy and quiet bookstore. Bookstore Kafka mainly covers literary works, and sometimes finds and introduces authors that are not yet famous among readers. Even though big bookstores and online bookstores are growing day by day, the property of paper books that can only be experienced by touching and flipping over the pages with your fingers still attract people to find bookstores offline. There is another reason why people find Bookstore Kafka. It is the “Studying Reading Club” run by the bookkeeper. Just as its name goes, it is a club where people read books and study them in-depth. Hence, if you are not particularly fond of studying, it might be difficult for you to maintain interest in participating in it. However, many people are exploring and studying books together in the club today. The bookkeeper says that it is contributing to the spread of reading culture and writing literature.

 

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The era where only big publishers and bookstores survive is like the dark period for individuals’ unique preferences. In this aspect, Bookstore Kafka is the only bookstore in the world, in that it resembles the bookkeeper. As every person in this world is unique in their own way, independent bookstores run and organized by the bookkeeper are distinct in their own way. In other words, to borrow the bookkeeper’s words, as various personalities should be respected, bookstores with different characteristics should exist as well, and this is where freshness comes from. From this perspective, the book curations of Bookstore Kafka prioritize the competitiveness and identity of the bookstore. The bookkeeper's philosophy is that when the identity of the bookstore is set straight, visitors can feel its unique color. Also, he says that even though the bookkeeper is setting the direction of the identity, it is ultimately the visitors who complete it. In other words, the identity of Bookstore Kafka is made together by the bookkeeper and the visitors. If you are looking for a bookstore that promotes books where you can study and read books together with others, Bookstore Kafka will be the right choice.

 


Written by Kang Chan-Hwi

kbbok

Kang Chan-Hwi

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