Over the past few years, the publishing and bookstore markets have gradually been shrinking due to the Internet becoming the-go-to source for information. Fewer and fewer are going to books as a resource for knowledge. In this day and age, where fewer people read books, how can we explain the growth of independent book publishers, and the fact that independent publishing is starting to be considered an official profession
Independent book publishing (or self-publishing) is where an individual or a group publishes their own book. As with traditional publishing, books are planned, written, produced, and displayed for the public. What is significantly different between traditional and independent book publishing is the purpose for publication. Traditional publishers are revenue and profit-based. Independent book publishers on the other hand, rather than having an aim of gaining profit, welcome those authors who merely want their stories and ideas to be distributed to a smaller community. As the authors themselves are responsible for the complete process, the content of the book is produced exactly as the author wants it.
Independent book publishing first started in the year 2000, and has become more generally accepted over the past years. Currently there are approximately 90 independent book publishers and stores in South Korea, such as ZimFree, Your Mind, ThanksBooks, and LikeIt. Over 200 people are groups regularly contribute to these publishers.
Independent book publishing professionals examine and put their own interpretation onto why this unique publishing system continues to grow significantly year after year. ‘Bookstores Never Die’ is the title of a book which discusses this phenomenon. Te author, Ishibashi Dakihumi states: “Books are not just a type of media for delivering content to the public. The bound pages, the words, the cover design, the textile features, and the weight of the book, all have their own beauty. A published book should be introduced as an assemblage of art.” The significance of book publishing itself is portrayed as an art from product for all people in the society. On the other hand, the founder of ZimFree, Lee Jin-gon says, “Most Koreans in this day and age are educated enough and have their own thoughts and knowledge. This has enabled an era of writing one’s own unique content, and, in the expectation that this will continue or in fact be improved upon, independent publishers are likely to grow for another few years.”
We all may have once dreamed of or thought of writing a book, either about our interesting lives or some other passion. Books that have been independently published, such as ‘Brother’s Journal’ (a series of journal entries and photos of a 20-year old man collected by his younger sister after is sudden death), a black-and-white photo album of the Big Apple titled ‘Frames of New York’, and a compilation of written work, such as ‘Jigirls: Women who Write in Jirisan’ are published worked that contain very unique content that would not be found in any traditional bookstore. Any kind of content - no matter how unusual - is accepted for publication, which can never limit the author’s creativity. In order to sustain the growing productivity of self-publishing, services such as the ‘Independent Book Publishing School’ and ‘Self-Publishing Workshop’ are available, especially for beginning authors who are attempting to publish their first book.
Annual events are hosted for the development and promotion of independent publishers. Last year, 15,000 people participated in the independent publishing festival, ‘Unlimited Edition: Seoul Art Book Fair’ (started in 2009) and interest in independent publishing continues its exceptional growth. This fall, on October 1st and 2nd, another book festival called the ‘Seoul Zine Festival’ debuted and was hosted by two independent publishers, ZimFree and Ihubooks. The festival promoted a huge variety of creative unique content and was an opportunity for readers and authors to come together.
Sources: Lee, Jin-gon. “Independent Publisher’s Heyday.” E-mail interview. 02 Sept. 2016.
Grace Jiyoung Lim
Branksome Hall Asia
Grace Jiyoung Lim firstname.lastname@example.org
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