South Korean and Italian Publishers Hold a Bilateral Rights Exchange

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Running through Wednesday, this week’s program of online rights meetings bring together 36 South Korean and Italian publishers.

In Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza, June 23. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Prangkul Ruangsri

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Following Bilateral Events with Australia, Spain, and France
In June, a three-day bilateral rights program for the French and Italian markets was organized by the Italian Trade Agency, called “ICE” in Italy, with a goal of “keeping alive a fundamental exchange for the two countries.”

Today (July 5), another of these digital programs has begun, this time for South Korean and Italian publishers. This exchange runs through Wednesday (June 7) and the emphasis this time is on children’s and YA (young adult) literature, with some emphasis on graphic novels.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the comics and graphic novels market is a strong one in Korea and in other parts of Southeast Asia, in part because of the imposing progress made by Naver’s Webtoon platform, which has just merged with Wattpad, the two companies now combining their production studios under Aron Levitz’ leadership. What this could mean for those who are engaged in these networking events this week is that a potentially formidable film and television development element with special capabilities in the content of graphic novels and comics is now in place.

Another thing that Publishing Perspectives readers will realize is happening here is a reflection of the sort of translation exchange work done by the United Arab Emirates publisher Bodour Al Qasimi with her Kalimat Group house for children’s content. Qasimi has arranged to exchange, translate, and sell books with such companies as Bloomsbury, Gallimard, and Quarto, leveraging the sales capability on the ground held by publishers in each partnership.

Following successful bilateral publisher events of this kind with Australia, Spain, and France, this week’s program brings together 21 Italian publishers and 15 of their South Korean counterparts.

The Italian program, created by “ICE” in coordination with the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE), has estimated that 8,586 titles from Italy sold into international languages and markets in 2020, which actually represents a small pandemic-year increase of 0.2 percent over the 2019 performance, even as titles purchased by the hard-hit Italian industry from the international arena fell by 5.5 percent to 9,127.

‘Extraordinary Calls for Translation’

May 20, at Naples’ Bagno Elena, a view from the Via Posillipo. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Luca Mato

Organizers of these bilateral events say they’re convinced that what they call “extraordinary calls for translation” and such initiatives as these direct market-to-market events can produce demonstrable results.

Ricardo Franco Levi

“We present ourselves to our counterparts” in South Korea, says AIE chief Ricardo Franco Levi, “through two particularly lively segments: publishing for children and young people, the flagship of our industry, and comics and graphic novels that are growing a lot in Italy and to which AIE is dedicating particular attention.

“For this reason, we could not fail to involve BolognaFiere, organizer of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and our partner in many initiatives.

“Furthermore,” he says, “this event would not have been possible without ICE and without the support of our Embassy and the Korean Publishers Association (KPA), which we thank.”

During the three-day event, both markets will be presented to each other with information about translation funding support available and details of consumer activity that can be anticipated. Participating publishing companies are using ICE’s “Smart365” platform for their conversations.

Opening addresses feature the Italian ambassador to South Korea, Federico Failla; AIE’s Levi; and the president of the Korean Publishers Association, Youn ChulHo. The moderator is Vincenzo Calì, who directs ICE in Korea.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Italian market is here, more the South Korean market is here, and more on rights and international trading is here. More on industry statistics is here, more on AIE is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

And more from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 and its impact on the industry pandemic is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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