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TV shows boost book sales

Jan. 18, 2021 - 15:13 By Lim Jang-won
“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson is pictured with a label that says it was featured on KBS2 show “The Book U Love.” (Kyobo Book Center)

Books that have been shown on TV entertainment shows are sweeping bestselling charts, reaching bestsellers lists in travel, poetry and cooking categories in the second week of January, according to the country‘s largest bookstore chain Kyobo Book Center.

“A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, for example, became the bestselling travel book after screenwriter Kim Eun-hee introduced the book on KBS2’s “The Book U Love.” After the episode with a 2.3 percent viewership rating was broadcast, sales of the book increased by 101 times.

“The Book U Love” visits celebrities at their homes to discuss their most treasured books, which are then donated toward building a library in underserved areas. The books introduced each week have all shot up in sales, with Kyobo Book Center creating an event page on the website that shows books featured in each episode.

Authors appearing on talk shows are influencing bestsellers charts as well.

When poet Won Tae-yeon appeared on tvN’s “You Quiz on the Block” on Jan. 6, his “No One Else” reached the top of the poetry chart. After the two authors of “Cooking is Feeling,” who had learned Korean just to write the book, appeared on the same episode as Won, sales of the book increased 661 times, becoming the bestselling cookbook last week.

Many “mediasellers” -- a portmanteau of media and bestsellers -- are clearly labeled with the programs in which they were featured in order to attract more readers. For the TV entertainment sellers, 73.8 percent of the buyers were women, 31.9 percent of them were in their 40s and 25.3 percent were in their 30s.

Such a trend is nothing new. When K-pop band BTS read Sohn Won-pyung’s “Almond” on the BTS reality show in September last year, sales of the popular novel skyrocketed. It became the most checked-out book at public libraries in Korea last year, proving to be especially popular among women in their 40s.

By Lim Jang-won (