Book publishing complex is no best-sellerWhen driving out of Seoul, northwestward along the Jayuro highway, one can notice the tranquil scenery suddenly change, around 17 kilometers (10 miles) from the Haengju bridge, along the Han River.
Along the road is a huge white sign for the Paju publishing complex. Some of the buildings on this lot are completed, while others are still exposed, unfinished masses of steel and wire. There are several excavators digging around the open space.
On the 15.8 hectares (39 acres) of land, 1 trillion won ($830,000) has been invested in the Paju Complex for Publishing, the government’s attempt at creating an exclusive zone for all things related to publishing.
There’s space for publishers, printing houses and distribution companies, all part of the government’s plan to increase efficiency in the publishing industry by establishing a cooperative system among related companies.
The Paju Publishing complex is also known as Paju Book City ― “city” because when the zone was planned, it was supposed to act as more than a simple industrial zone. Officials wanted it to be environmentally friendly.
But for now, Hangilsa and Dongurami Study are the only two publications based at the complex. There are seven printing houses there, and three distributors.
Fourteen years has gone by since the Paju Complex project was launched by Lee Ki-woong, president of Youl Hwa Dang publishing house.
For Book City to flourish, many more publishing companies need to move into the area. But the large numbers that planners envisioned have failed to turn up.
The government certainly offers plenty of benefits to encourage publishers to move to Paju. When moving into the Paju Complex for Publishing, a company is exempted from corporate taxes for five years, and for five years after that, the company only pays 50 percent of its ordinary tax burden.
Despite the tax benefits, companies are still reluctant to come to the economic zone, primarily because transportation links to the area are few and far between. And because the complex lies so far from Seoul, transportation is a major factor.
The promotion committee at the Paju complex is taking steps to get publishers interested in Book City, beginning with luring a couple of big names to prime the pump.
Changbi Publishers and Minumsa will soon be occupants of the Paju complex. Changbi Publishers is expecting to move within this month. The publisher has long been dissatisfied with its current location in the midst of a bar zone in Mapo district, western Seoul. The quiet of Paju is just what the company would looking for.
Minumsa is planning to move to Paju at the end of August or in September. But since most of its writers are Seoul residents, and because the editorial department needs to keep in touch with its writers at all times, the company is not clear on whether the editorial department will also be moving into the complex.
“We are going to move to Paju, but there are a lot of problems we need to sort out,” an employee of Minumsa said.
The employee added that it’s pretty hard to move out of Seoul where the network of people and culture is concentrated. And while the tax breaks are nice, they are somewhat offset by the additional transportation and delivery costs that the Paju location requires.
At the publishing complex, about 45 companies have committed to moving in, but they still have not begun designing their offices.
“Because there’s a low occupancy rate, it’s pretty hard to maintain the basic facilities within the Paju complex and setting up public transportation in the area,” says Lee Geun-bok, in charge of construction.
by Lee Young-ki
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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