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The 2019 Taipei Rights Workshop: Women Shifting the Market (I)
By Alice (Readmoo) ∥ Translated by Roddy Flagg
Jan 14, 2020

The 7th Taipei Rights Workshop welcomed publishing industry workers from around the world: agents who have sold international rights to Asian books; the overseas editors who have snapped up those books; and even book scouts on the lookout for compelling plots to tempt movie-makers with. Our theme this year - “from literature, to the world” – saw us discuss our views on the book market in different countries. 

 

The Story Behind Kim Ji-young, Born 1982

The film adaptation of Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, now in cinemas starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi, has sent the global bestseller back to the top of the charts in Korea. Michelle Nam, executive director of the book’s publisher, Minumsa, spoke at the workshop about the state of the book market in Korea and the story behind Kim Ji-young, Born 1982.

And when she spoke about acquiring readers – “Youtube is a huge challenge for publishers, young people even treat it as a search engine,” – the publishers in the audience smiled in recognition. But Minumsa is now marketing its books via Youtube:  it launched a channel on the video-sharing platform in May, featuring editors talking about their books. A video for Kim Ji-young, Born 1982, answers readers’ questions and talks about the publishing process and how the movie adaptation came about.

“And I was first to look at the submission!”, head of Minumsa’s Korean literature division, Seo Hyo-in, said. The author, Cho Nam-joo, already an award-winner, made a special request in her cover letter: “I do hope you reply, whether you want the book or not. It’s so saddening to get no response…” On reading the manuscript the entire editor’s office agreed: this had potential. But sales figures for this tale of one Korean woman amazed even them. “Initially I wanted to say it’d sell 10,000 copies,” laughs Seo, before recalling a colleague quietly advising less ambition. In the end a sales target of 8,000 copies was set. And actual sales so far? 150 times that target – 1.2 million.