Posted : 2009-01-30 17:25
Updated : 2009-01-30 17:25

Publications Faltering Amid Downturn

The economic downturn hits the publishing industry hard. The number of books published by the local industry decreased by some 20 percent from the previous year. / Korea Times file photo

Paulo Coelho, Kaori Ekuni, Best-selling Authors for Five Years

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

The economic downturn is hitting the publishing industry hard. According to publishing statistics for 2008 recently released by the Korean Publishers Association (KPA), the number of books published by the local industry decreased by some 20 percent from the previous year.

Meanwhile, as readers prefer literature to other genres in the economic recession, the works of Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, Japanese writer Kaori Ekuni and celebrated Korean author Gong Ji-young have been on top of the 50 bestsellers list for the last five years.

Staggering Publishing Industry

According to the KPA, the number of copies of books published last year was 106.51 million.

The number of types of publication rose by 4.9 percent from 2007 but the number of copies declined by 19.6 percent.

The association said the economic slump has affected the local publishing industry.

``It's the result of many publishers suffering from soaring production costs while readers are reducing their spending on cultural activities,'' the association said.

Among the publications, children's books represented 23.76 percent or 26.88 million copies. However, the number of children's books decreased by 58.98 percent from the previous year, the genre hardest hit by the economic slump.

However, the number of the books related to religion shot up by 185.4 percent from 2007, reflecting the readers' mindset in seeking solace through religion during tough times.

Best-selling Literature

According to the Kyobo Bookstore, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and Japanese writer Kaori Ekuni are the most powerful authors reigning over the bestsellers list in the Korean publishing market.

The bookstore released the bestsellers lists from 2004 to 2008 in literature ― including essays ― showing the two authors' works have continuously been listed in the top 50 bestsellers.

Coelho's representative works, ``The Alchemist,'' ``Veronika Decides to Die'' and ``Eleven Minutes'' were on the bestsellers list in 2004, making follow-up works such as ``The Zahir,'' ``Like the Flowing River'' and ``The Witch of Portobello'' also major hits.

``Between Calm and Passion-Rosso,'' ``Tokyo Tower'' and ``Twinkle Twinkle'' by Ekuni also stole the hearts of readers.

Ekuni is the daughter of Shigeru Ekuni, a famous essayist known for his lucid and flowing style. She began her writing career in 1987 with a work that won a children's literature prize. In 1991 ``Twinkle Twinkle'' became a bestseller, and Ekuni began to turn her hand to adult fiction. Her essays and love stories, containing delicate portrayals of the suffering of young women, have gained overwhelming support among female readers. Her works are particularly bestsellers in Korea.

Among Korean authors Gong Ji-young, Park Wan-seo and Ryu Si-hwa were included in the top 50 bestsellers.

Gong, who was a student activist in the 1980s, was a best-selling author in the 1990s through her candid and sensible writing style in such novels as ``Go It Alone Like the Rhinoceros Horn,'' and ``Mackerel.''

Her recent notable works such as ``Our Happy Time,'' ``Things After Love'' and ``Home, Sweet Home'' were among the top 50 bestsellers over the past five years.

Park's ``Kind Bokhee'' and ``His House'' have stayed firmly as top sellers. The well-established writer is famous for stunningly delivered descriptions and expressions, witty and humorous stories that realistically portray heart-warming experiences, and the wisdom of age that deeply penetrates each and every sentence.

Ryu's ``Love As If You Were Never Hurt'' was also a bestseller.
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