중앙데일리

Late monk’s will prompts rush to buy last copies of his books

품절 … 품절 … 식지 않는 법정 스님 책 ‘소유 열기’

Mar 17,2010
Readers look for copies of books by the late Venerable Beopjeong at Kyobo Book Centre’s main branch in Gwanghwamun yesterday, behind a signboard that reads, “We have no more copies of ‘Non-possession,’ and the book will no longer be published.” [YONHAP]

The death of Venerable Beopjeong, one of the nation’s respected spiritual leaders, has provoked an unusual response: Mourners are stampeding to bookstores, desperate to grab up the last copies of the monk’s books before they go out of stock - forever.

The monk and prolific author died of lung cancer at age 77 on Thursday, and when it was revealed that his will called upon his publishers to stop printing his books after his death, sales leapt dramatically. His works now top the best-seller lists at major stores across the country, including Kyobo Book Centre and Youngpoong Bookstore. Most branches have now set up special booths for the Venerable Beopjeong’s books, with some already sold out.

The Buddhist leader was widely known for his best-selling books including “Non-possession,” and some of his works are included on recommended reading lists for middle and high school students preparing for the College Scholastic Ability Test.

Non-possession is already sold out at major online book stores. It’s listed as “out of print” at Kyobo Book Centre’s online bookstore, and as “sold out” at YES 24.

Kyobo said 1,000 copies of the Venerable Beopjeong’s books were sold at its Gwanghwamun headquarters alone on Monday. The shop set out its stock of 30 works by Beopjeong upon his death, but now it said it has copies of only three left. Youngpoong Bookstore’s Gangnam branch managed to put out 300 copies of the late Buddhist’s books on Monday, but they were sold out two hours later.

“We get calls from people who ask about the Venerable Beopjeong’s books every five to 10 minutes,” said Kim Su-jeong, an official at Youngpoong Bookstore’s Jongno branch.

“I traveled all the way here by express bus from Cheongju in North Chungcheong to get the Venerable Beopjeong’s writing,” said Kim Yeong-hui, a 47-year-old homemaker, shopping at Youngpoong in downtown Seoul.

Yoon Hyung-doo, president of Bumwoosa, the company that published the Venerable Beopjeong’s widely read Non-possession, said the book won’t be reprinted.

“I need to follow his will,” Yoon said. “To reprint the book, we need the approval of the writer, but he passed away. If the Buddhist leadership makes a different decision later, I will follow their decision.”

More than 3 million copies of Non-possession have been sold since it was first published in 1976.

Officials in charge at publishing companies that publish other books written by the late Buddhist holy man said they would make their decisions on whether to continue publication of the books once the monk’s wishes had been confirmed.

Asked whether publishers would be obligated to respect Beopjeong’s wishes, Kim Young-chul, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property, said that in a legal sense, they were under no obligation to do so, because the contracts to publish books were still valid.

“Rather than solving this matter from a legal standpoint, aides of the Venerable Beopjeong who know the book contracts and his dying wishes well need to decide about the matter after discussing it with the publishing companies,” Kim suggested.


By Lee Eun-joo, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

길상사, 절판 여부 곧 발표



11일 입적한 법정 스님의 책 구하기가 ‘하늘의 별 따기’다. 온·오프라인 서점에서 품절이 이어지고 있다. 교보·영풍문고 등 서울 시내의 대형 서점에는 진열대에 놓이는 즉시 팔려 나가고, 인터넷 중고서점에는 ‘책을 구한다’는 글이 속속 올라오고 있다. 일부 네티즌이 웃돈을 얹어 2만~3만원을 요구하자 이를 비판하는 댓글도 쏟아지고 있다. 법정 스님의 책이 곧 절판될 것이라고 전해지자 독자들이 앞다퉈 도서 구입에 나섰기 때문이다.

16일 오후 교보문고 광화문점에는 『아름다운 마무리』 등 3종의 책 몇 권만 남아 있었다. 스님의 입적 다음 날만 해도 30여 종이 있었다. 교보문고 문학팀의 김은옥 과장은 “15일 하루에만 1000부가 넘게 판매됐다”며 “16일에도 책이 들어오는 대로 팔리는 실정”이라고 말했다. 다른 서점도 사정은 비슷하다. 16일 영풍문고 강남점에는 법정 스님 책이 300권 정도 입고됐다가 2시간 만에 품절됐다. 영풍문고 종로점 문학팀 김수정씨는 “스님의 책을 찾는 전화가 5~10분에 한 통씩 걸려오고 있다”고 밝혔다. 영풍문고 종로점에서 만난 주부 김영희(47)씨는 “스님 책을 직접 사기 위해 충북 충주에서 고속버스를 타고 올라왔다”고 말했다.
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