Sunday, May 6, 2012

Not the Common Vision of a Book Publisher

Although few publishers will  bother to print a book that has little chance of making money, that has not been the concern of the Bundo (Benedictine) Publishing Company of Korea. They may not have many best sellers, but they have steady sellers, books the president of Bundo Publishing believes will continue to sell a hundred years from now. This year is their 50th year of their formal registration as a publisher, but they go back to 1909 as publishers. The Peace Weekly recently interviewed the president, Fr. Seon.

Each year for the past 12 years Fr. Seon has attended the International Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany to see what is being published in the world of books and to decide what books not known in Korea would be good to introduce here.

When it comes to books on theology, spirituality or the arts, there is little competition among the publishers to gain the copyrights for most of these books. He has no desire to enter that contest; books that are easily read, brilliantly written, and give consolation he knows are popular but that is not the Bundo publishing's vision.  The intention from the beginning, and continues today, is to publish books that the Church and society needs.

He mentioned that occasionally they have published books critical of Church teaching, and have been criticized for doing so. However, Fr. Seon feels that it is the duty of a publisher to make their readers aware of issues and diversity within the Church so that they will be able to have a healthy discussion of these issues.

In order not to be left behind it's necessary to keep up with the different developments in the publishing world. The number of those searching for E-books  is increasing and the Bundo publishers are preparing for this eventuality. But for the most part the books published by Bundo, Fr. Seon said, are the kind you put on your desk, underline and write in the margins, so this new technology will take time to introduce.

Many publishers have had to close their doors in recent years, and others are becoming smaller but Bundo is still operating, thanks, he said, to all their readers.  He thanks them for their love and concern; even thanking those who have on occasion scolded them. He asks us not to turn quickly away from difficult books that Bundo publishes, wanting us to go deeper into the teachings of Jesus, and into all books that can help us change the way we live. Books that will lead us to the good life will continue, he said, to be the intent of Bundo in the future.

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