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Export Case

 

K-BOOK Import Case in Germany

The start of a new story

 

2022.04.04

 

In 2017, when a colleague at our publishing house came across the title The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down (Suo Books) by Haemin Sunim and suggested we buy the German rights, no one thought that this would be the beginning of a new era. Of course, we assumed that the book would sell well – why else would we want to publish it? Nevertheless, we were surprised how quickly the first edition sold out. In the meantime, over 40,000 copies have crossed the counter and the 7th edition has just been printed. One reason for the great success in Germany was certainly Haemin Sunim's reading tour, which we organised in 2018, as well as his activity on social media, where he has millions of followers. Another is that Korean culture has become increasingly visible in Europe in recent years and interest in Korean literature has also grown in this country.

 

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Laacher Forum - Haemin Sunim

 

 

Since we house three imprints under the Europa Verlage umbrella, we are able to meet this trend in terms of a wide range of genres. The Scorpio imprint, with its books on spirituality, health, and better living, publishes two of Korea's most successful spiritual authors, Haemin Sunim (four titles by now) and Shiva Ryu (the third title will be released in autumn 2022). The imprint Europa, which specialises in up-market fiction, also has some high-profile bestselling authors under contract. Kim Un-su won several literary awards and his first thriller The Plotters (Munhakdongne) became an instant bestseller and sold in 20 countries. The most prestigious of our Korean authors is certainly Hwang Sok-yong. Winner of numerous national and international literary prizes, he is considered South Korea's most promising and worthy candidate for the Nobel Prize. The imprint Golkonda publishes science fiction and fantasy novels by, among others, Lee Mi-ye and Cheon Seon-ran, two high-flyers on the Korean literary scene, as well as Eo Danbi and Kim Ho-yeon, whose latest book is currently being made into a film.

 

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German edition of Haemin Sunim's books

 

 

All this would not be possible without the excellent cooperation with Korean agencies and publishers as well as institutions such as the KPIPA (Publication Industry Promotion Agency of Korea) and the LTI (Literature Translation Institute of Korea), which offer numerous useful services for foreign licensees – including the possibility to apply for funding for selected projects. Communication (in English) with our Korean partners is always effortless, efficient and fast. Questions, requests for information, etc. are answered promptly; negotiations are uncomplicated. Thanks to the rights catalogues from agencies sent to us regularly, we are always up to date on new releases on the Korean book market. If a title arouses our interest, we have an external employee who is a Korean native speaker read the entire manuscript before we make the final decision on whether to make an offer for the German rights or not.
The only bottleneck in publishing Korean literature is that there are (still) too few good translators from Korean into German, which means that it is not always possible to meet the original target publication dates. In addition, translations from Korean are significantly more expensive than from, for example, European languages. We have therefore had some titles translated from the English or French version, but the risk of losing content is of course greater than with a direct translation from the original language.

 

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From the left, German edition of Kim Un-su, Shiva Ryu, Hwang Sok-yong's books

 

 

Apart from that, the Corona pandemic has of course greatly restricted marketing. Reading tours, visits to the Frankfurt Book Fair (the most important book fair in the German-speaking world) have not been possible in the last two years. To make up for these lost opportunities we have greatly expanded our in-house activities on social media and recently started an online sequel novel on our Golkonda website (golkonda-verlag.com/buecher/). In addition, we rely on regular campaigns with one of the largest German-language social book networks. There, people interested in literature can read books together, exchange views on them, write reviews, take part in competitions and pass on and receive recommendations.
Naturally, not all titles can go through the roof when it comes to sales figures. There are too many new books on the market every year and the competition is becoming bigger and bigger. For that reason like every publishing house, we also make a mixed calculation. In this way, successful titles like those by Haemin Sunim and Shiva Ryu with about 75,000 sold copies in total co-finance less successful (but still good and important) ones like for example Kim Un-su with about 6,000 sold copies.
The fact is: the number of readers who appreciate the fresh, imaginative and always profound content of Korean books is increasing. So far, we have not regretted occupying this niche and hope for further good cooperation with our Korean partners.

 

 


Written by Desirée Schön (Europa Verlage GmbH, Germany)

 

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Desirée Schön (Europa Verlage GmbH, Germany)

#Germany#Haemin Sunim#Europa Verlage#Scorpio#German
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