Nguyen Hoang Dieu Thuy
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|Nguyen Hoang Dieu Thuy
Officially established in 2005, Nhã Nam is one of the leading private publishing companies in Vietnam. We are publishing books of all genres, but most well-known for literature and children’s book. Besides publishing, we are running a bookstore chain and a printing factory. We have over 200 employees and 45 of them are editors.
A number of statistics: 17 years of publishing books; over 2500 titles were published, 300 new titles per year; 16 bookstores in Hanoi, HCM city and Hai Phong, including 3 books and coffee shops; over 80 events each year, including book launch, workshops, book talks, exhibitions, book festivals.
Publication and Optimizing the Use of Content
I always expect each book published by my company to have many more lives, particularly those that I edited. Therefore, I am so thrilled when any books that I am in charge are made into audio books, plays or movies. Not to mention the revenue, it is a pure joy to see values spreading as literary work is really hard.
Nowadays, optimizing the use of content is among the most important things to do in publishing. It is not something new. However, with the rapid development of technology and consuming life, people working in the publishing industry need to attach more importance to it.
In a way, print book is an original (in most of the cases with some exceptions) and there are derivatives based on this original. Once we have a good content, we can make it into different platforms and types. This is beneficial to all: authors will have more royalty, publishers will have more revenue and consumers will have more choices.
First, the publication of special, luxury and limited editions is a way of “intensive farming” of content. Of course, these books may be for displaying rather than reading. However, the content is still necessary to make them valuable publications.
Luxury and limited books have been really booming in 2021 in Vietnamese publishing industry. Major players in the publishing industry, including Nha Nam, competed with each other in publishing the most beautiful and expensive books. Books were made with high techniques and special materials (goat – leather cover, marbling flyleaf, metallic-printing typo, sophisticated vignette designs, and etc.) The printing of luxury books was often limited to no more than 500 copies each title. And titles that were selected for luxury versions must be classic works of the world or of national culture.
In 2021, A Brief History of Vietnam (Viet Nam su luoc) by scholar Tran Trong Kim was published in a very special edition (Bordeaux-colored and cowhide-leather cover, big size, golden-printing title and author’s name, hand bookbinding, limited to 111 copies) by Nha Nam with the price of up to over 160 USD per copy. They were sold out at the drop of a hat.
Dong A publisher hold book auctions every weekend and they used to sell a very sole copy of the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo, at the price of up to 10 thousand USD in an auction in 2021, the highest price ever for a novel so far in Vietnam.
Smaller players who owned good titles and loved to make their own beautiful books also joined this game. For example, Phuc Minh Books launched a five-volume miniature set of the novel The Little Women by Louisa May Alcott that each one’s size was like a piece of queque cake with marbling silk cover.
Luxury books could be circulated in two ways, publishers retailing on their own distribution channels or working with an exclusive distributor. The trend is slightly going down in the middle of 2022 but remains sustainable because at present it was secured by more powerful publishers, wealthy readers and collectors and much better supporting industries.
Second, publishers are paying more attention to digital books including e-books and audio-books to make use of the content of each title.
Audio-books is a mushrooming trend in the world that Vietnam publishing industry has caught up. While e-book could hardly penetrate the market, audio book saw spectacular growth. Vietnamese companies that developed audio book are very young: Voiz FM was founded in 2019, Fonos 2020 and Mydio 2021. Spotify from Sweden, entering Vietnam in 2018, are also competing in this market. The statistics in the last several years showed astonishing development of audio book: Voiz FM in 2021 increasing by 500% compared with 2020; Fonos reporting hundreds of thousand downloads of their app in 2021.
Readers still like print book because of their long habit. Print book is friendly, beautiful, and useful, not only for reading but for home decoration. The convenience of e-book does not change significantly the way of reading: using eyes and staying still in a place to read. Moreover, there are so many free e-books available online that people do not like to buy e-book. Audio-book, however, changes greatly the way we read. People can do everything and stay anywhere while listening to a book. The market share of audio book is likely to continue increasing.
To adapt to the changes of the publishing life, publishers have been working closely with audio-book companies. The number of titles that are turned into audio books are on the rise. Regarding important titles, publishers manage to launch print version and audio version at the same time to make use of promotion campaigns.
Though e-books at present do not seem to be much likeable, they are still worth consideration. Reading habit may change.
Besides, publishers may also utilize content by making book summaries. This is also a rising trend for readers who do not have much time. Among other trends are: publishing additional editions with illustrations and infographic or making into graphic novels; publishing tailored editions for adults and children; adapting to video clips and podcasts that can be distributed in modern technology platforms.
Lastly, the trading in copyrights of Vietnamese works in foreign markets should receive more attention and investment so that Vietnamese works are more accessible to foreign readers in other countries.
A successful book is the book that has many more lives. A publisher with many successful books will be a strong publisher.
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