Here are some things you might wanna know about Korea's book market.
1. Korea is the 10th largest book market in the world.
2. E-book market is growing fast.
3. Web novel market is growing fast.
4. Genre fiction market is growing with the increase of mobile devices.
In 2012, the total value of Korean book market at consumer prices marked 3,117 in USD, which was the 10th largest in the world. The other nine countries were USA, China, Germany, Japan, France, UK, Italy, Spain and Brazil.
In 2013, Annual sales of E-book contents was 120 billion KRW (appx. 120 million USD), which had been 45 billion (appx. 45 million USD) in 2011. Nearly 83% people in South Korea own a smartphone, making it the country with the fourth-highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, according to the data compiled by Digieco, a research center run by South Korea's mobile carrier KT Corp.
Romances and other genre fictions once were very popular in Korea but have lost their glory with the decline of book rental market. However, the increase of mobile display devices (smart-phones and tablets) brought life back to genre fictions. Mobile devices help people read whatever they want on subways or buses, without letting others know what they’re reading.
5. 3040 women are the majority among genre fiction readers.
3040 women are the ones who like book-reading the most and, therefore, they are leading the dominance of romance. No one would disagree with the fact that romance is the absolute first. S/F, martial arts, and suspense are other popular genre in Korea.
6. No. 1 best-seller web novel has been earning more than 100 thousand dollars a month in 2016.
NAVER (the biggest portal site) started web novel services in 2013, and the accumulated number of views have reached 9.5 billion in the past three years. The number of regular readers is estimated to be five million. In 2016, Honey Honey Wedding recorded 100-thousand-dollar sale a month first time ever. Web novels are uploaded bit by bit (or episode by episode) regularly and readers can read them for free, but if you want to read the rest in advance, it’s called ‘preview’ and this is when you have to pay. By January 2016, 64 novels have already been published physically; 230 novels have been contracted for publication; 11 novels have been contracted for TV drama and film making.
7. Bernard Werber was first found by Korean readers.
Bernard Werber is a French science fiction writer who is chiefly recognized for having written the trilogy Les Fourmis. Initially, his works were much more popular and welcomed in Korea than in France. It was the popularity in Korea that led French readers to recognize his novels. His book titled “Bernard Werber’s Science Graphic Novel.”, consisting of 21 volumes in all, was debuting not in Werber’s home country of France, but in South Korea. So far, his works have been translated into 35 languages and 15 millions books have been sold worldwide. He is one of the most renowned contemporary French novelist.
Annual sales of web novels was estimated to be 17 billion KRW (appx. 17 million USD) in 2014 and is expected to grow up to 69 billion (appx. 69 million USD) in 2016. This trend will be accelerated due to the fact that South Korea is the world leader in Internet Connectivity, having the world's fastest average internet connection speed. About 45 million people or 92.4% of the population are Internet users in South Korea.