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2020 Publication Trends in Korea

 

2020.02.03

 

2020 Publication Trends in Korea

 

Korea has fully entered a low-fertility and aging society. The number of students is rapidly decreasing, and for domestic colleges, some of the majors have been taken off the curriculum or were integrated due to a lack of applicants for 2020. This trend gives birth to new keywords for the generation such as “Millennial Generation”, “Active Senior Generation” or “Senior Generation” in our society, while on the social sensitivity side, keywords from other perspectives that were not highlighted in the society such as feminism, fairness, fragmentation, double-sidedness, and growth are emerging.

 

Young people familiar with media will enjoy and represent the changing times with their sensibilities.

 

Trend Korea 2020 is an annually published book series which launched in 2009 with Trend Korea 2010. The series consists of analysis and predictions about Korean consumption trends. The book suggests intelligent solutions for the crises we face today, and the anxiety and challenges of the future by interpreting the rapid changes in our society.
According to the book, which is published in October every year and is intensively sold until March of the following year, the decrease in Korea's population is expected to have a significant effect on the national economic stimulus in the future. The tough employment market for young adults leads to the contraction of economic activities, which in turn leads to the avoidance of marriage and childbirth later in life; this is changing the household spending propensity. The government’s budget policy that focuses on healthcare and welfare is planing to provide customized support for the vulnerable population. The tech industry is expected to put greater emphasis on the reinforcement of “Digitalized Ecosystems” that connect human beings with technology by innovating for a platform-based business model.
Also, in the culture industry, the line between public broadcasting and cable channels is blurring, and the steady emergence of new media platforms are attracting consumers. Such transforming speed of the media environment is almost too fast to catch up. Lifestyles, where individuals enjoy their leisure life, are being diversified and globalized. Yet, the change in the domestic publication trend that relies on paper books is taking place at the slowest pace compared to other industries.

 

Millennial Generation

It is necessary to understand the readers to interpret Korea's publication trends in 2020. The current reader base is the “Millennial Generation (people born between the early 1980s and 2000s)” that emerged since 2019. The millennial generation is familiar with digital media, build and end relationships depending on their needs; their understanding and approach towards publishing content are also different.

 

Web contents and Youtube-sellers

Young people familiar with media will enjoy and represent the changing times with their sensibilities. “Reading and writing in the digital era” will transform and expand in various forms of the content market based on web novels, webtoons, and web dramas, further spreading online. In particular, the so-called “Youtube-seller” standing at the center of changes in media will continue its growth.

 

Youtube <MK TV>

Youtube “MK TV”

 

Books introduced on Youtube and became bestsellersFrom left “Atomic Habits (Business Books)”, “How Philosophy Becomes a Weapon of Life (Dasan Chodang)“, “Young Rich on Youtube (Dasan Chodang”』

Books introduced on Youtube and became bestsellers
From left Atomic Habits (Business Books), How Philosophy Becomes a Weapon of Life (Dasan Chodang), Young Rich on Youtube (Dasan Chodang)

 

Audiobook

The media that has been the greatest issue in publishing content diversification is “audiobooks.” The Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea (KPIPA) allocated approximately 1.5 billion won of their budget to support audiobooks in 2020; to be specific, the organization established an audiobook support center to provide publishers with a space to record and edit and is also supporting audiobook facilities for private organizations.

 

Naver Audioclip Website

Naver Audioclip Website

 

Studio at Audiobook Center at the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea

Studio at Audiobook Center at the Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea

 

Public Lending Rights

Another trend that has been an issue recently with the growth of such digital media is “public lending rights.” “Lending rights”, emerged with the notion of IP protection means that royalties for books lent by public libraries as a public service need to be provided. This issue requires a review of the protection of the rights of creators and has the task of securing finance.

 

Subscription Economy

In the same context with global trends, discourse on the “subscription economy” seems to continue in the Korean publishing industry. Competition is getting tougher as companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney are aggressively providing services through the Internet and digital platforms, while Millie, RIDI Books, and Yes 24 are launching a monthly subscription plan for unlimited access to their service. This is due to the changing consumption pattern of readers, which the publishing industry that is relying on paper books find it difficult to adapt to.

 

Unique Bookstore

Last is the increase in “unique bookstores.” Since the implementation of the fixed book pricing scheme, bookstores that have been operating for a long time in the region are reborn with remodeling, and new bookstores with a great love for books are emerging that sell books in a certain genre in a tiny space. Their numbers grew from 300 in 2017 to 344 in 2019. Based on the cooperation with stakeholders in regional bookstores, these bookstores sometimes run promotions, negotiating with publishers about books that are only sold in a specific place.

 

A science bookstore “Galdar” opened by science experts

A science bookstore “Galdar” opened by science experts

 

A picture book bookstore “Frederic Books” run by publisher BookGoodCome

A picture book bookstore “Frederic Books” run by publisher BookGoodCome

 

Lifestyles, where individuals enjoy their leisure life, are being diversified and globalized.

 

If the existing publication trend in Korea was mainly large publishers leading the market, in 2020, the reader base will be created by authors’ fandom, and the trend for genres will also center around readers. Also, contents such as science fiction, sub-culture, and web novels that go beyond the scope of pure literature will further expand. On top of this, science-related books are gaining strength as scientists expand their range of activity.
The fixed book pricing scheme will remain, and books supplied to libraries will increase. Unique bookstores with regional characteristics that carry the banner of localism will continue to expand. Reading clubs are increasing nationwide, and reading culture is also active. This could have been influenced by Social Media but is also an indicator that a steady number of readers are willing to obtain in-depth knowledge and information on the top of light knowledge.
The analysis of these trends shows that Korea’s publication trend in 2020 is highly likely to become an issue in terms of institutions, rather than interests in individual books.

 

 


Written by Park Chan-Soo (President of Research Institute for Book Cultural Content/ Adjunct professor at Semyung University)

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Park Chan-Soo (President of Research Institute for Book Cultural Content/ Adjunct professor at Semyung University)

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