It can be difficult to buy Korean books if you don’t live in Korea. Let’s share where we buy our Korean books (physical, digital, audiobooks) and our experiences ordering from different websites.
These sites aren’t specifically for Korean content, but you can often find new or used books at a reasonable price.
- Amazon (linked on Natively page)
- Google Play (linked on Natively page)
- Better World Books
- Thrift stores / Charity shops
Korean Book Retailers
Note: This is now a wiki, feel free to add your recommendations directly to the list above.
I’ve mostly been using general retailers for buying physical books, and Google Play for ebooks and audiobooks.
I recently ordered from YULSHOP on Now in Seoul, so we’ll see how that goes.
Have you tried Ridibooks for ebooks? Seems very popular among Korean learners:
I will definitely be adding more auto links in the future.
I haven’t, but I’ll give it a try!
Most of the Korean retailers I’ve tried to use before have had lots of hoops that foreign customers have to jump through, even to read their free ebooks. It would be nice to find some more accessible sites, as Google Play is terrible for browsing.
I’m convinced they don’t want people to use it
I’ve fallen into the Ridibooks rabbit hole, send help!
It was pretty easy to sign up, and you only have to go through the verification process if you’re buying 19+ products. They have their own reader software / app, installing and using it has been pretty smooth so far (with one caveat: not all products can be viewed on all devices - webtoons can only be read on your phone or tablet). I’ve downloaded some freebies, and also purchased a couple of books without any issues.
This has opened up a
can of worms whole new world!
If you’re a fast reader, and like ebooks, you should definitely check out ridi’s subscription service ‘ridiselect’. I recently got it and I’m in love. The book browsing feature is tedious, but It’s a really nice app
Sounds interesting! I’ll definitely take a look.
Now in Seoul sells a variety of Korean goods from a small selection of businesses. The site is entirely in English, and easy to navigate.
Prices: On the expensive side. The manhwa I bought cost about 60% more than Korean retailer listings, plus shipping.
Ordering: Simple, straightforward, exactly what you’d expect. Email confirmation as soon as your order is placed.
Payment methods: Paypal, credit card, or bank transfer.
Processing: Shipped within 2 working days, email update including tracking information.
Tracking: FedEx, delivered within 3 days (UK).
Packaging: Each individual manhwa was shrink wrapped and wrapped in bubble wrap, then the bundle was wrapped in more bubble wrap and boxed up. So the products arrived in excellent condition, but all that plastic… Not exactly eco-friendly.
Items: Genuine items in perfect condition, and included a small gift.
- Easy to use
- Worldwide shipping
- Offers a wide range of products, such as cosmetics and Kpop merchandise
- Orders accrue points that can be used on future purchases
- Excessive packaging
- Limited selection of books and manhwa
- When browsing books, you can’t filter out magazines, Kpop merch, or items that are out of stock (which together make up the majority of the listings)
Overall: I’m happy with my experience, as the books arrived quickly and in excellent condition. I wouldn’t shop there often due to the price, but if there were books or manhwa I wanted to own physically (not available cheaper elsewhere), I’d feel confident ordering from the site again.
I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but I recently discovered Bandi Books US, which is a Korean bookseller based in California. I haven’t ordered from them yet, but they have a decent selection of books and manhwa (search by ISBN and not the title though!!) and reasonable prices (~$15 USD for a volume of manhwa or a novel).
Crucially, they offer domestic shipping to the US and Canada, which is much more reasonable than international shipping from Korea. It’s ~$8-$10 USD when under ~$75 USD and I think free shipping once you go over that. While it’s still nowhere near as cheap as buying Japanese books, it’s much better than ordering from abroad.
If anyone’s ordered from them before, feel free to add onto this!
@bibliothecary @pieonakr I just got my first ridibook (이상한 과자 가게 전천당 1 | L20) and it seems like I can’t text select in my mac os app… is that correct? You can highlight some text and search the dictionary, but even then you can’t copy paste out of the app
Yeah. It would be nice if anti-piracy measures weren’t so detrimental to the user experience - I feel like I’m reading secret documents needing high-level clearance.
Books on Korea is the English website for the Korean retailer Kong & Park.
Prices: Items are around 15% more expensive than the Korean retail price, plus shipping. All prices are in USD.
Browsing: Before exploring, you may want to disable your adblocker for the site; no books would show up in the search results while my adblocker was on. Other than that, it’s an easy site to use - you can search for specific titles (titles and descriptions are in Korean) or browse the categories.
There are many more books available than other sites catering to international customers: for example, “Book for introducing to Korea” > “Learning Korean” returns 2k+ results. Larger categories, such as “Teenagers” and “Korean Novels” return 9.9k results (the search result limit).
Ordering: Easy and straightforward. One small problem I had was that I couldn’t enter my full post (zip) code in the designated box, so I included it in full in another box in the address section. Immediate order confirmation email on completion of purchase.
It looks like customers in the US have the choice to have their items shipped domestically if they’re in stock at the US branch.
Payment method: Stripe
Processing: Shipped within 5 working days. No notification was sent from the website, but I did receive updates from DHL. “Delivery tracking” (it just provides the DHL tracking number) is available on the Books on Korea website, but only works after order has been shipped.
Tracking: DHL, delivered within 2 working days (UK).
Packaging: Bubble-lined plastic envelope (for a small order of 2 books).
Items: Arrived in excellent condition.
- English interface
- Worldwide shipping
- Huge selection of books
- Shipping can be pricey
- Can’t see order status / no shipment notification
- Can only save 8 items to wishlist
Overall: Excellent in terms of choice, as it’s basically an online Korean bookstore that caters to foreign customers (a rarity, sadly). Whether you want more advanced learning materials or you’re interested in books aimed at native Korean speakers, you’ll find a huge selection of books that meet your needs. However, while the books themselves are affordable, the shipping can drive up the price of purchases significantly.
Aprende coreano hoy is great for Europe, but it has a pretty limited selection of books
@bibliothecary , I’ve noticed that you’ve added a lot of books as owned. Where do you buy your webtoons? I’ve been trying to buy some, but prices are truly outrageous.
For example, for the first three books of 나나이랑 그루’s one fine day, I’ve only managed to find them on Amazon for over $90 for the bundle, or on some other websites that ship from Korea, where it’s cheaper (~$40) but then you have to double that for shipping, plus potential customs costs.
Mostly it’s ebooks from Ridibooks and Google Play, although I do use Books on Korea occasionally for (new) physical books (but as you say, shipping costs…). For webtoons specifically, I think Ridi is probably the best as it’s the most accessible for those outside Korea, and it’s relatively inexpensive, but it only offers ebooks.
I have a few hundred physical books, but the vast majority are second-hand from charity shops, ebay, and so on (I have been collecting them for several years). I’ve also found some recently via Mandarake, Surugaya, and From Japan, which is a proxy service. Obviously used books are much more affordable, but you can’t be sure what will turn up for sale or when.
I haven’t tried any Korean proxy services, but they could potentially be an affordable option. Unfortunately, pricing isn’t very clear, at least on the sites I’ve looked at.
I am thinking about (slowly) starting with learning/refreshing korean again, but I think most of the books I already own are too difficult for me (yeah, don’t ask…I lived in Korea for a year and just bought whatever interested me regardless whether I could really read it or not )
That’s why I need to buy easier ones.
So my question now is: is there an ebook shop you can recommend, where I can pay with PayPal? (Similar to e.g. bookwalker for japanese books)
Google Play has a lot of Korean books and accepts paypal, as does Bomtoon if you’re interested in webcomics or webnovels.
Thank you! I will check them out!
I haven’t used this site yet. But I saw another language learner use it to buy Korean books. There’s free shipping if it’s over $100. If anyone is in the US, you can try it out? https://kbookstore.com/