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Current status of each field in the Korean publishing market

⑦ Publication of practical books for home






There is a wide variety of practical books that provide tips for diverse fields necessary in our daily life. So, this part divides the section into two: practical books for making homes and living a good social life. The former type mainly includes areas important at home such as raising children, cooking, keeping fit, and hobbies, while the latter type includes language books and traveling guides that are needed in living a social life. Books that feature tips for maintaining a good social relationship and those for expanding financial property can belong to the latter part as economics and business administration books. Today, we would like to first touch upon the publication of practical books for home.


The number of titles in the field of family & living is decreasing, but other fields are seeing a rising number of publications.


Publishers that make practical books for homes among the entire publishing industry take about 6.1% for health, entertainment, leisure, sports, and hobbies (pets), 4.6% for educating and nurturing children, and 2.6% for family, cooking, and hair-styling. Also, those specialized in publishing these books were 2.1% for health, entertainment, leisure, sports, and hobbies (pets), 1.3% for children’s education and nurturing, and about 1.1% for family, cooking, and hair-styling (“Survey on the Publication Industry 2019”, Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea).
According to the “KPIPA Publishing Statistics (as of 2018)” released by the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea, the number of published titles was 1,130 for cooking and hobbies, 1,067 for health, sports, and leisure, and 544 for family and living. While the number is on a decline for family and living, other fields are showing an uptrend.
Also, according to the 2019 sales statistics of Kyobo Bookstore, one of the representative on- and off-line bookstores in Korea, about 5% of the entire sales was from practical books for home (1.5% for hobbies and sports, 1.2% for cooking, 1.1% for family and living, and 1.1% for health), where the figure has been quite stable for the past three years.



The “Family Life” field


The sales trend of practical books for home shows that those related to childcare account for a majority of sales. Books such as Encyclopedia: All about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infant Care (Samsung Publishing Co.), Pediatrics 911 (Yuni books), and Mom, I am Growing (Bookfolio) that talks about the brain development of kids took the upper ranks. Among them, Pediatrics 911 written by pediatrician Ha Jung-Hoon was largely popular among parents with guidelines for cold, indigestion, diarrhea, and skin issues that kids commonly experience. Since its first publication in 1997, it has been a steady-seller each year for 20 years, which proves that the book is regarded as a bible among Korean moms.
The attitude and habits of anyone taking care of a child have a critical influence on the child. Therefore, guide books that help parents to be “good parents” were popular including Fruitful Mother-Child Communications (Hanbit Life), Why Did I Say Such Thing to My Kid (Whale Books), and Habits That Don’t Hurt Children’s Feelings (Gilbut). Entering this year, Let Children Play Outside the Box (Force) by Kim Kyung-Hee, a professor at the College of William and Mary who won the E. Paul Torrance Award in 2018, which is regarded as the Nobel Prize for creative education in the world, for the first time as a foreigner. It outpaced Encyclopedia: All about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infant Care and became the top-selling book in the field. As a description and a guide for parents to cultivate their kids’ creativity which is a core talent to survive in the future, it instantly became the hottest seller among parents.


<Pediatrics 911>

<Fruitful Mother-Child Communication>

<Let Children Play Outside the Box>

Pediatrics 911, Fruitful Mother-Child Communication, Let Children Play Outside the Box


As students could not go to school as usual in the first half of this year due to COVID-19, many parents had to help their kids study at home. This led them to study how to educate their kids, which increased sales of Meta-Cognition Education (Book 21) and The Education of Karl Witte (Chai Jungwon). Recently, The Best Interior for Home is Tidying (Gana Publishing) by Jung Hee-Sook, a specialist for organizing space, became a hot issue in the bookstore as a book with a delicate collection of know-how for organizing things at home.



The “Cooking” field


The popularity of a TV program seems to have influenced the publishing market in the cooking field. First of all, Soo Mi's Side Dishes (Vol. 1, 2)(Sungandang) by Kim Soo Mi, a celebrity who successfully showcased her outstanding cooking skills and secret recipes to the audience on a TV show, topped the list last year. Also, cooking books written by Baek Jong-Won, a cook and a so-called godfather of the foodservice industry who has been an enthralling figure today even being mentioned as the next presidential candidate regardless of his will, also ranked high among the bestselling books.
As people are having more interest in a healthy diet, Recipes for an Easier and Tastier High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diet (Wisdom House) and Enjoy Losing Kilos with High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Dietary Recipes (B.able) by Park Ji-Woo were especially highlighted on the shelves. Unique recipes shared by celebrities on TV received public attention in the first half of 2020. In particular, At-Home Restaurant by Lee Jung-Hyeon (Seosawon) ranked first among other cooking bestsellers in the first half of this year, surpassing Soo Mi's Side Dishes and Baek Jong-Won’s Home Dish (Seoul Media Group), which had been strong sellers among cooking books written by popular TV stars.


<Soo Mi's Side Dishes>

<At-Home Restaurant by Lee Jung-Hyeon (Seosawon)>

<Baek Jong-Won’s Home Dish>

Soo Mi's Side Dishes, At-Home Restaurant by Lee Jung-Hyeon, Baek Jong-Won’s Home Dish


Apart from these books, cooking books written by so-called “influencers” on Instagram have been popular as well. Myungrang’s Secret Side Dish Recipes (Recipe Factory) and Post Seoul Cook Book (New Press) are examples. Adding to the megatrend of books for home cooking, those for children and infants have been increasing their share in sales in recent years.



The “Health” field


In this field, books suggesting specific solutions for managing health stood out including You Can Fix Your Brain (Bronstein) and Patient Revolution (Editor). Patient Revolution is a book in which doctor Cho Han-Kyung from California stressed that proactive participation of the patient is a critical element for fast treatment. He tells readers to regain their sovereignty over health from medicine and hospitals. Meanwhile, readers were also interested in books providing tips for the right diet and losing weight such as The Strongest Meal (Angle Books), Your Meals are Wrong (Thenan Contents Group), Innocent Fat (DKJS), and 5-Day Miracle: Sugar Detox (RAONBOOK). The last book is a dietary guide for Korean-style fasting that helps with obesity and metabolic disease.


<Patient Revolution>

<5-Day Miracle: Sugar Detox >

<100-Year Work Out>

Patient Revolution, 5-Day Miracle: Sugar Detox, 100-Year Work Out


As more people are working from home and spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fitness training that is easy to follow at home gained attention. The sales of books related to losing weight, exercise, and fitness training rapidly increased from April this year, where for Kyobo Bookstore, the relevant field saw a whopping sales jump of 48.3% for bodybuilding and 38.5% for exercise and health training in the first half of this year. Meanwhile, books related to skincare, make-up, and nature-oriented health management fell by two digits compared to last year. Invest 3 Minutes For Your Eyes (Sam & Parkers) and War with My Body (Jungwon Books) are steadily beloved titles as well. 100-Year Work Out (Artisan) by professor Jung Seon-Geun at the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, introduces healthy exercise tips for living a 100-year lifespan following his previous works 100 Years for Your Waist (Science Books) and 100 Years for Your Neck (Science Books), where he discussed ways to work out in a safe way that does not hurt spinal joints.



The “Hobbies & Sports” field


In this field, You Must Not Have a Dog (Hyeda Books) and Q&A with My Dog (Hyeda Books) written by Kang Hyung-Wook, a famous dog trainer in Korea have been popular. At the same time, I Wish I Were a Cat (Gimmyoung) by Na Eung-Sik and Myung-Chul’s Meow-ish Clinic (Vita Books) by Kim Myung-Chul have drawn attention with tips for pet owners to better understand their partners. Besides, the growing interest in pet plants has also shed light on books such as For Those That Dry Cactus to Death (Bookisbab) by Song Han-Na, which is an introduction to home gardening for amateurs.


<You Must Not Have a Dog>

<For Those That Dry Cactus to Death>

<The Funniest Origami in The World>

You Must Not Have a Dog, For Those That Dry Cactus to Death, The Funniest Origami in The World


Books on children education, at-home workout, and simple art have been popular due to COVID-19.


Sticker art books have been a hot item as they were helpful in killing time at home as a hobby as people had to spend more time at home due to the pandemic in the first half of 2020. Readers uploaded their finished works of Disney Friends (Book Sense) and Disney Ladies (Book Sense) on Social Media. The Funniest Origami in The World (Slow Rabbit) is a paper folding (origami) book written by Lee Won-Pyo, a Youtuber, for preschoolers to adults. Also, books related to hobbies such as scout reports for professional baseball, how to crochet, how to knit, and how to self-design at home saw a rise in sales as well.



Written by Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)


Baek Won-Keun (President of the Books & Society Research Institute)

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