Giving more visibility to a well-kept secret from Kyobo Bookstore: yes, you can buy Korean ebooks as a foreigner living outside of Korea on Kyobo Bookstore’s website! And no, it’s not complicated! As their website is all in Korean, the only challenge is signing up but once you’ve done that, you’re golden and a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you. Korean textbooks! Korean novels or non-fiction!
Before we start:
- You will need a PayPal account (you can pay with any foreign card that allows foreign transaction but the form used by Kyobo is not secured at all so I would advise against it…)
- You can only read ebooks on a Windows computer, Android phone/tablet, iOS phone/tablet. You cannot read ebooks on a Mac computer.
1. Signing up for a Kyobo account
This is fairly straightforward and you can Google translate the pages if using Chrome if there’s anything you’re unsure about at some point.
a) Go to the Kyobo website homepage then click 회원가입 in the top navigation bar:
b) Fill in your email on the left side and click 중복획인 to check your email is valid.
c) Then scroll down to accept all terms and conditions by checking the first box, and click the big blue button.
d) After this you will receive a confirmation email. Click the link in that email and it should take you to a page where you have to press a button that says 확인 before you’re taken to a page to fill in your account details.
You need to fill in your name, sex, date of birth and phone number. To input your phone number click on 해외주소로수정 and input it in the field that appears. A bit down below, choose a login ID and click 중복획인 to check if it’s available. A popup will appear: if there’s just a 확인 button you’re good, press it, if not there will be a field letting you type another ID. Then choose a password.
When all that is done, scroll and press the big blue 확인 button and you’re set! You can now log in to your account via the top navigation bar 로그인 button.
2. Topping up your Kyobo ecash wallet
The way ebooks purchasing works on Kyobo is through a digital wallet that you can top up anytime with a chosen amount of money. You then spend that money on ebooks.
a) Once you’re logged in, click ebooks in the Kyobo menu bar. You should arrive on the Kyobo ebooks site which looks a bit different from the main Kyobo site.
b) You should still be logged in. Hover over the ‘on’ person icon and click on 교보e캐시.
c) This is the page where you will be able to see your balance. Click on 충전 to top up.
d) Choose the amount you want to add to your account. I recommend checking the price of book(s) you want to buy before to estimate how much you need and not add too much or too few! As you can see, there’s always a top up bonus granted for each amount, the +xx% on the right. Once you’ve chosen the amount, select either PayPal or foreign card (again, highly advise PayPal as the foreign card form is NOT secured). Then tick the box on the right-hand side and click the big blue button. You will be taken to payment and receive confirmation of your top-up! Congratulations!
3. Purchasing an e-book
Now that you’ve done all that, it’s super easy to spend your money. Just browse the Kyobo ebook website and pick a book you want to buy. The nice thing with Korean e-commerce websites is that there is oftentimes coupons! I might make a separate post on Kyobo coupons because I’ve found so many coupon events going on since signing up yesterday (for one you just need to log in for 30 days straight to get a 2,000 won coupon!)
Let’s see with an example.
a) Say I want to buy this TOPIK book. The ebook price is 10,500 won but the orange number is the price I can get by just clicking the tiny 쿠폰 button: I will automatically receive a coupon and the price will now be 9,450 won! You might need to reload the page to make sure the coupon is taken into account. To buy the book, just press 구매하기 and it should be fairly straightforward from then on.
Another tip: you can usually see a preview of the first couple pages of the book by clicking 미리보기 under the book cover image. Good to help you decide if it’s what you want or not.
b) If you have a Windows laptop it should prompt you to download their viewer afterwards. I don’t have one so I can’t test that out for you, sorry! Otherwise, once the ebook is purchased it goes into your Kyobo account and you can access it from any other device. What I personally did was download the Kyobo ebook app (here for iOS) on my iPad and iPhone. You can then login with your ID and password by tapping the hamburger menu in the top left and clicking 로그인. You will then see your purchased ebooks in the 서재 section. This app is only a reader: you can download free ebooks on it in the 무료 section (but you can’t check out their summary) or access your already purchased books.
The viewer is fairly easy to use: you can press on a word to highlight it, add a memo note, look it up in the dictionary or wikipedia within the app, change the display font, etc.
I have personally started to read 고양이 학교 which is like Harry Potter but with cats as protagonists. It’s aimed at kids around 10 years old so the grammar is easy but there’s still tons of vocabulary I don’t know to make it challenging enough. Apparently this series won a French children’s literature award and got translated into French? But I didn’t know this before writing this article, I only knew of it because it came highly rated in the children’s novels section and I had seen another Korean learner recommend it.
If you have any questions on this, let me know and I will try to help! Happy reading 🙂