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Decline in bookstore continues in South Korea, data shows

All News 16:26 March 09, 2016

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- The number of independent bookstores is on a steady decline in South Korea, the latest data showed.

According to data released biennially by the Korea Federation of Bookstore Associations on Wednesday, the number is down by 4.1 percent to 1,559 in 2015 from 1,625 in 2013.

The number has fallen each year of the report: 2,247 in 2003, 2,103 in 2005, 2,042 in 2007, 1,825 in 2009 and 1,752 in 2011.

A ray of light amid the gloom, however, is that the rate of closings has slowed during the 2013-2015 period.

The government's policies of supporting small bookstores and the expectation within the industry that the fixed-price book measure would boost sales attributed to the slowdown in recent years, the association said.

The total number of "hybrid" bookstores, including those that have a cafe with the bookshop, stood at 2,116 in 2015, down by 9.2 percent from 2013.

By region, more than half of the bookstores are located in the six biggest cities at 1,178 bookstores or 55.7 percent. Six counties, including Ongjin-gun in Incheon and Sinan in South Jeolla Province, have none.

On average, there is one bookstore for every 24,869 people and for every 10.4 schools.

"Since the number peaked in 1996 with 5,378, it has shrunk by more than 70 percent and the decrease is set to continue," said the association. "The government should put more concrete measures in place (to buck the trend.)"


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