Sources describe a new application for backlist serialization

According to people familiar with the situation, the team behind the Korean webtoon is preparing to launch a new serialized fiction app.

In Houten, the Netherlands, on June 9. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Makasana

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

Bringing Backlist to market through serialization

In an unusual case for us here at Publication prospects, today we have the first news of a potentially big publishing app currently in development – and our sources on this exclusive story spoke to us on condition of anonymity, ahead of a public release of the information. In accordance with standard journalistic practice, we have verified the identity of the people speaking to us, as well as their seniority and proximity to the subject.

“The company sees this new revenue opportunity for back catalog content as similar to how streaming has unlocked new revenue for studios.”

They describe to us an application that has the potential to be a bridge between traditional commercial publishers – based in any global publishing market – and the popular framework of serialization as a means of showcasing valuable backlist titles, often overlooked by consumers.

Those working on this new app are characterized by those familiar as teams that “effectively built the category of serialized storytelling,” which, as many of our readers know, has found a large and loyal following, especially on Asian markets.

In providing our audience of publishing executives and rights specialists with this next piece of information, we would like to forestall a potential misconception: our sources tell us that this new app will not be for user-generated content (UGC) , as are many high profile serialization platforms.

Instead, this property will be professionally curated and designed as a marketplace resource for professionally published books.

The creators behind the creators

Our readership will recall that in May 2021, a US$600 million merger was completed between Seoul-based suburban Naver’s Webtoon and Toronto’s Wattpad.

Both Wattpad and Webtoon are platforms for creating and consuming serialized content, and their combined audience at the time of writing is some 179 million users.

Wattpad alone tracks a collective 23 billion minutes spent monthly by approximately 94 million users, and its user-generated storytelling is what the company calls “webnovels,” written by and for huge communities drawn to serialized stories nested by genres and interests.

Webtoon, however, has two serialization tracks for its presentation of comic and graphic storytelling.

  • Webtoon offers user-generated content, but it also has graphic industry staff who work with its user-“creators” to produce a class of content with a professional, finished look and feel.
  • The schedule for these serialized releases is coordinated (rather than released whenever a user wants) and webtoon terminology for these properties is “original”, meaning in this case a work that the platform itself professionally develops and produces.

We are told that the people behind the development of this professional part of webtoon offerings are behind the next app.

And this application is described to us as being:

  • “Completely separate” from Webtoon or Wattpad, and fully professional (again, not user-generated)
  • Available internationally for both consumers and publishers
  • Designed to accommodate content in “a wide variety of genres, aimed at a wider and older audience than Webtoon or Wattpad”
  • Structured to provide publishers with a way to “nominate titles they think would be great for serialization”
  • On track to launch later this year
Discussion

While it’s impossible to share more details at this point, these new product outlines are interesting for several reasons.

Our sources tell us that the company developing this app expects it to welcome new content as well as backlists, “seeing serialized fiction as a major opportunity for publishers to bring new and exclusive content to a rapidly growing storytelling medium while allowing them to unlock the revenue and value of back-catalog content.The company sees this new revenue opportunity for back-catalog content as similar to how the streaming has unlocked new revenue for studios.

Also, the demographic shift from Webtoon and Wattpad is quite significant. At Wattpad, for example, 90% of the platform’s user universe are GenZ and millennials, and Webtoon’s anchor aesthetic in comics and graphic storytelling also keeps it close to a larger readership. young. Professionally created and operated channels for adult literature (as well as non-fiction offerings, for that matter) could provide many publishers with the leverage of serialization, but for a larger consumer base. mature.

Publication prospects understands that the development team behind the app is already “in discussions with traditional publishers and best-selling authors” as the project unfolds. And we’ll have more details on this new development as they come to us.

But finally, it’s worth remembering that strong momentum in backlist sales has been seen in many markets during the deepest periods of coronavirus-related lockdowns around the world. In some markets and demographics, this interest in backlists has persisted well beyond the measures to mitigate the spread of the first pandemic.

If the new app profiled to us can take advantage of this trend, it may arrive with a tailwind as a new and engaging way for readers to consume the list as well as new content.


More information about Publishing Perspectives on Webtoon is here, more about mergers and acquisitions is here, more about us about serialization is here, and more about the list of publishers is here.

To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for CNN.com, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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