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Koreans spend on reading habits

Many Koreans are willing to spend money to achieve their New Year’s goal to read more books.

Around 12.25 percent of Koreans said that their top New Year’s goal is to achieve personal development, mainly through reading books, according to online survey platform Now N Survey. Buying a house, at 17 percent, topped the list of responses in the survey conducted among 1,420 people from Dec. 10 to Jan. 7.

 
Book club Trevari (Trevari)
Book club Trevari (Trevari)


Setting up a goal is the easy part; good habits are hard to form. In market research firm Embrain’s survey of 1,000 Koreans aged 19-59 last year, 92.7 percent said they had goals for 2019, but only 28.8 percent of them answered that they had achieved their goals.

Having experienced prior failure, more people are now willing to spend hard-earned money on programs to help them achieve the New Year’s goal to read more.

Trevari, a popular book club startup, is witnessing rapid growth. The startup on Jan. 18 will open a new 11-story book club center in Gangnam, Seoul.

“We have decided to open new centers for our members as we see a clear trend of more and more people willing to join in reading in the new year,” a Trevari spokesperson told The Korea Herald. “Although we do not disclose the exact number of clubs we opened this year, around 95 percent of our first-season clubs for the January to April period were full.”

Trevari members pay around 190,000 won to 290,000 won ($162-$248) in fees to join the four-month book club program.

“Being a member of Trevari was like buying a force that can encourage me to read more,” Jo Eun-byul, a former member of Trevari, told The Korea Herald.

“I always include reading more books on my New Year’s resolution list. Last year I tried to form a book club with a few of my friends, but it was really hard to be consistent. So I considered joining a book club like Trevari for the new year,” said Yun Yeong-mi, a 30-year-old office worker.

Local startup White Cube’s app Challengers shows that people are willing to engage in a bet to establish a reading habit. On the app, reading books is ranked as one of the top 10 goals for the New Year.

The app is designed to assist people to form different habits by obligating users to update their progress regularly. For instance, one book challenge asks users to post pictures of their short reviews of the pages that they read each day.

Users can choose the amount, ranging from 10,000 won to 200,000 won, that they want to wager at the beginning. The amount they receive back after the program ends depends on how much of the target goal they have completed.

“Although there are risks, the number of members increased,” White Cube CEO Choi Hyeok-jun said. “We see that this is because betting some money is effective. More than 96 percent of the people on average succeeded in their challenges.”

While many Koreans are eager to achieve their goal, this is not the only reason they are using these services.

“I participate in Challenger’s program to read books out loud to my children to form a better relationship with my son. As I was doing this challenge I got closer to him,” Jang Yong-jae, an office worker in his 30s, commented on Challengers.

“I joined Trevari around five years ago when they first started the business. At the time, their program was mainly focused on reading books. But I recently found out that they now have different one-day classes for its members, which was interesting,” Han So-young, a former Trevari member, said, adding she is thinking of rejoining.

According to Trevari, there are now more than 10 one-day spot classes, including classes in yoga, wine and color therapy that allow members to socialize more freely.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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