Korea Telecom Qooks ebooks

mot-bile 2010 - In spite of a long literary tradition, Koreans are not big readers. Worse : in 2009, 90% of Korean publishers didn't print any new book.

Through the Korea Electronic Publishing Association, the Ministry of Culture is betting on ebooks to revive the habit (target : 100,000 ebooks per year). Kyobo Book estimates the Korean market at about KRW 1 tn (over USD 900) EOY 2010 and KRW 2.4 tn EOY 2012.

The Ministries of Knowledge Economy and Education are joining this national effort, which will also benefit local manufacturers : those guys didn't wait for the local market to do something (ie Samsung Papyrus, iRiver Story), but the issue became sensible after the launch of the iPhone, and the iPad buzz.

Harmonizing the 40 or so existing distribution platforms is a key factor of success, and the association recently held an "e-publication standardization forum" at the Korean Education & Research Information Service (KERIS).

Education is key in a country where families spend fortunes to help their kids survive one of the most competitive education systems in the world.

Precisely, for its first ebook distribution partners, Korea Telecom picked Woongjin Thinkbig, Inc., which holds a strong position in private tutoring text books, and Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd., which also has a specialization in educational contents.

The funny thing about the service is the brand : we've already mentioned Qook, KT's umbrella brand for home services. "eBook cafe / Book Cafe" makes sense because book cafes are getting popular in Korea. But "QOOK Book Cafe"
bookcafe.qook.co.kr) sounds like the Java hub for rogue accountants.

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