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Ministry to push data management for publishers

Feb 17,2017
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced ways to help the embattled publishing industry, with the focus on enhancing the transparency of books’ distribution and sales.

This comes after Song-In Books, the country’s No. 2 wholesale company, went bankrupt, leaving publishers with damages worth 40 billion won ($33.6 million), and bookstores with damages of about 20 billion won.

A “wholesale company” in the Korean publishing industry helps small- and mid-sized publishers - who often lack the resources for sales and marketing - get their books in bookstores across the country.

Song-In’s clients include 2,000 publishers and about 500 are small- and mid-sized companies.

Announcing its plans to promote the publishing industry for the next five years, the ministry said it plans to merge the three data management systems for book sales at bookstores that are currently in use.

“Although the publishing industry has been the source of secondary content like broadcast programs, film and animation, investment in the fund for publishing industry has been inactive and that was largely because of unclear information about distribution and sales,” said Lee Woo-sung, the deputy head of the ministry’s cultural content industry office.

“By creating a comprehensive data management system, publishers, writers, readers and investors will be able to see [everything,]” he said referring to data on how many books were sold in each distribution stages, among others.

Lack of transparency and the outdated business customs in the publishing industry have long been seen as the culprits for the industry’s long recession.

Besides the merging of data management systems, the ministry said it will come up with measures to revise the so-called “fixed price system for books” in which the government placed a cap on the discount rate for books in 2014.

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]