Past Program / 2020 Program / Bo-Ram Min
|Established in 1991, Gilbut Publishing continued to grow having a No. 1 bestseller , and expanded its publishing fields into economics/business, humanities, hobby and travel as well. We are publishing about 300 titles a year. The travel guide book series which I am editing has positioned at TOP 3 guide books in Korea only after 1 year of its launching, and also 10 titles from the series entered the list of top 20 travel guide books in the major bookstore, Kyobo Book Center. The motto of our company is ‘the sincerity to save the reader’s 1 second.’ It means we make a book like a very well-aged wine. A book made with deep consideration and preparation saves the valuable time of readers and delivers more accurate information and knowledge, we believe.|
Many things have changed due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, also in the publishing industry. As life styles got changed into non-face-to-face, the sales of large bookstore chains decreased, and smaller and independent bookstores are closing their businesses. Meanwhile, the online / mobile book market made a huge increase with a significant buying rate.
According to the reported by Kyobo Book Center, from Jan. to May this year, online book sales share recorded 56.3% in total (through mobile apps 33.4 %, web sites 22.9%) and offline books sales 43.7%. The number of titles from online sales increased by 23.3% compared to the same period last year, while that from offline sales decreased by 7.4%. The total number of titles sold increased by 8.6%. In addition, as the opening of elementary, middle and high schools as well as kindergartens continued to be postponed due to the “social distancing,” sales for home study books increased by 36.2% and children books by 22.5% compared to the same period last year. And also book sales in the field of science increased by 46% and sales of books on home and family-related increased by 16.2% as adults also had more time to stay at home.
More people are gaining weight after having stayed at home without much activities these days, sales of books on diet increased by 48.3% and books on fitness by 38.5% compared to the same period last year. And sales of books on stock /securities and financial investment increased significantly by 101.8% and 72.4% respectively.
Every day retail investors are breaking the record of net buying, with the effect of expecting for a golden opportunity of buying at the lowest point. This movement is called “Donghak Ants Uprising,” which earned its name after the Donghak uprising led by peasants against foreign powers in the past, as it looks like individual investors are keeping the capital market against foreign investors.
The fields, mentioned above, have enjoyed exceptional privileges from the COVID-19, but there are some other fields have experienced an unprecedented downward curve. For travel books, once-booming field for years, sales decreased by 54.1% as overseas travel became difficult, and sales of books on foreign languages decreased by 10.1% / books on preparation for employment decreased by 1.8% as new recruitment by companies decreased and most qualification tests incl. TOEIC were postponed.
Then, what kind of changes have happened in e-books? According to the data of product sales from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 reported by 11th Street, an online shopping mall, sales of e-book readers increased by 117% compared to the same period last year. For the same period, also the sales of e-book readers sold at Gmarket, another shopping mall, increased by 60% compared to the same period last year.
Borrowing e-books through libraries have increased threefold. Gwangju metropolitan office of education said on Sept. 22 that “as libraries were closed and opened repeatedly due to the COVID-19, the rate of borrowing paper books was cut in half and that of borrowing e-books increased more than three times.” The number of borrowing e-books at the Metropolitan City Library was 3,582 until last month, that is 3.6 times higher than 974 in the same period of last year. The number of new members for using e-books was 2,176, that is 2.8 times higher than 762 in the same period last year.
The metropolitan office of education explained that “as social distancing has been strengthened to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the amount of borrowing paper books has dropped to less than half due to the continued closure of libraries. Instead, e-books which can be read regardless time or space received much attention.”
Like this, the demand for books has increased, but to be more precise, it can be said that the consumption of contents has increased. The demand for paper books had been decreasing even before the COVID-19 and publishers seem to need various research and development of books as an e-book format as well as a platform with high subscription efficiency.
The publishing industry needs to analyze the changed lifestyle carefully too. It is worth paying attention to the sharply rising demand for OTT such as Netflex. There is a joke from a netizen, ‘In Korea, people are divided into those who have seen Kingdom Season 2 and those who have not seen that’, ‘Kingdom’ is a Korean zombie drama series that can only be seen in the global OTT service, ‘Netflix’. Netflex, with 167 milion paid subscribers in the world (as of Jan. 2020), became the largest beneficiary of the COVID-19 outbreak. Netflix’s estimated number of average users for the first week of Jan. (for Android app.) was about 800,000, but that of the first week of March increased to 970,000 having 1.26 million daily visits on March 14. Other OTT Services – Wavve, TVING and Watcha also increased rapidly in MAU (Monthly Active Users) from 20 % to almost 100% in the first quarter of this year compared to same period last year.
Publishing is also one of the various mass media, and beyond the format of book, it need to be developed to the platform that people want and can be familiar with in the time of No-contact. In case of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, once a book is registered online, any publishers from all over the world can ask for the business meetings if they are interested in.
In this time, when overseas travel is not as easy as before, if we in Korea make various research and attempts for creating online platform environment where contents from the world can be exchanged with ease and rapid , then publishing will continue to be a high value added business.
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