Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Catholic Publishing in Korea

Koreans are not known as great lovers of leisure time reading. Because of their work ethic, leisure time is not readily available and if it were, they would prefer climbing mountains rather than reading books. This poses a problem for the book publishing business and for the Catholic Publishing Corp., the oldest of the Catholic publishers now working in Korea and celebrating this year 125 years of publishing. The editorial in the Catholic Times reminds the Catholic Publishing Corp. that its history of publishing in the Catholic Church of Korea began in 1859 when the fourth Vicar Apostolic of Korea St. Simeon Francois Berneux began printing books in Korea with  a wood block printing press. This makes it their 152th anniversary and not 125th.

Interviewed recently by the Catholic Times, the priest-president laments that although the cultural advances in Korea are breathtaking, Catholics have not kept up by reading and buying books. Which means the more they publish the more they go into debt. However, this will not diminish, he says, their efforts to get Catholics to read. If we look only at the publishing end of the business we are in the red, he says. But when we look at the evangelizing aspects of the work, it is all profit. It is impossible  to evaluate this aspect of the work by the expenditure of money. When someone has a closer relationship to God by reading a book, that can't be quantified with money.

The present concern of the company, he said, is to hire more qualified  editors, find new  publishing projects, and make the infrastructure stronger, which requires bringing in specialists and significantly increasing the payroll. He will begin addressing these needs by sending a good  number of representatives to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Another concern he hopes to address is the lack of books for young people. This lack is especially worrisome to him because in a society where God is missing, books for the young are crucially important. He hopes to publish more in this area with a more focused sensitivity to the needs of the young. He  also wants to uncover new writers, and begin to invest in the burgeoning e-book market. 

Both Catholic papers praised the ambitious goals of the company, and looked forward  to seeing the company take a leading position in the publishing world. It would be, it said, an important step toward  cultivating a Catholic culture among our Christians.

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