Kyowon, founded in 1985, is one of the biggest publishing companies in Korea. They have a high reputation for educational books, especially for prenatal, baby, toddler, and pre-school topics.
Almost all of its titles are series- or program-based and focus on child development and educational needs. In total, Kyowan's catalogue has some 50 series, of which half are translations from Japan (older series), the U.K. and France.
Kyowon has built a sales force of 30,000 who work with roughly 13,000 teachers to provide home study materials to children.
Recently, Kyowon has added non-publishing activities to its portfolio, such as Kyowon L&C, which develops lifesyle products, and Kyowon Travel, which produces educational travel programs.
According to a company statement, Kyowon is seeking to reach the level of excellence they are known for as a publisher with new ventures into life, health, leisure, and hotel industries.
Kyowon’s founder, Chang Pyung-soon, started his business career as an insurance salesman and later sold books door-to-door.
Key company developments in 2011 & 1st half year 2012
Kyowon's vision for 2015 is to grow the customer base to 10 million, with revenues to 3 trillion KRW (or $1.2 billion USD) including all non-publishing activities. For the educational business alone, the company has set a 2015 goal for revenues at 650 billion KRW with 1.6 m customers.
Ownership, mergers & acquisition, internal organization:
In 2011, the Korean government declared that all textbooks and educational materials be digitized by 2015.
Bestselling authors & titles:
New program Math Master launched.
The related series Kids Math is a new concept math program with interesting stories, and it deals with 8 different aspects of math such as Space, Shape, Measurement, Comparison, Order, Rule, Classification, and Statistics. Other programs such as Storybook and Pop-up Book help kids understand two or three aspects of math, and Activity Book leads them to learn the aspects of math through body, music, art, and language activities.
Key points for analysis & conclusions:
“Publishing giant Kyowon, which has 2,500 regular staff, an army of 40,000 salespersons and more than 200 sales offices countrywide, debunks the myth that door-to-door sales in Korea is on the slide. In terms of turnover, this is the biggest publisher in town, as well as the biggest in terms of door-to-door sales" (Publishers Weekly, 2003).
“As for export, Kyowon sold one series of 24 picture books and a series called Musical Stories to Taiwan. Musical Stories—a 10-volume series that turns hard-to-understand operas/ballets into fun-to-read pictorial pages—was published early this year, and within three days of its launch, its first 10,000-set run was sold out. This September, Kyowon will release a 22-volume series on Art and Music Masters from Italy … Kyowon is also well known for its study program, Kumon Study, in which the company has 8,000 participating teachers and over 1.5 million students under 11 years old. Development is ongoing to create a community for its members as well as a platform for online study, games and supplementary exercises” (Publishers Weekly, 2001)
International co-operations have been set up with World Book, Harcourt Brace and Creative Teaching Press from the U.S., as well as with DeAgostini and DK, to translate various series.
Note: Figures are based on sales generated in calendar 2011 or—for corporations with a fiscal year—from fiscal 2011. Data are from publicly available sources and include sales of books, journals, and digital products. Because publishing data were unavailable, Pannini and Disney/Hyperion are excluded from the rankings. The listing and publisher profiles were compiled by international publishing consultant Rudiger Wischenbart under the aegis of Livres Hebdo.