As paperbacks move over to make room for e-books, what’s become popular to readers in Korea is the serialized romance novels published online.
Last year’s hit TV drama “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds” was first a weekly web novel before it was made into a TV show.
Celebrity actor Park Bo-gum aside, it was clear to industry insiders from the beginning the show would be a success, based on the staggering 50 million accumulated views the original novel had garnered.
An illustration for the original "Moonlight Drawn by Clouds" web novel. (Image credits to artist 'kk')
During the time the drama aired, the novel raked in 500 million won ($418,000) in profits through a pay-per-read deal.
Accessible on platforms such as Naver, KakaoPage, Joara, Munpia, Bookpal and more, online romance novels are raking in as much as 50 million won a day for their respective online platforms in Korea.
This means some 500,000 readers for each platform every day fork over 100 won to read the day’s two- to three-page chapter.
Web novels are increasingly seen as a source for TV dramas, films and game contents, spawning further copyright profits.
The market size of web novels has been doubling year over year. In 2013, when the boom started to take shape, the yearly revenue for web novels was 10 billion won. Three years later in 2016 the figure had shot up to 100 billion won.
By industry estimates there are over 100 authors earning yearly incomes of over 100 million won through web novels. Some ink deals with platforms in advance for their next three books, even before having the first inkling of what they will write.
This heat for online novels is pushing the conventional paperback market to eye an entrance to the digital field. Kyobo Book Center has opened a new web novel platform called TocSoda. Writers are also taking up classes that specialize in tactics to pen romance stories that will appeal to the online readers’ tastes.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)