There are some great sites in English that facilitate foreigners purchasing Korean-language books. TTMIK is one; GMarket’s global site is another. But the shipping costs for these books can be prohibitively high. Fortunately, there is a legal way to purchase Korean ebooks to read on any device that can download the 교보eBook app.
Thus far I’ve been able to easily download this and read on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop (Windows 10). Kyobo has its own e-reader device just like Amazon has Kindle, but you don’t need to purchase the device to use the services or read your ebooks.
All you really need is Paypal (a debit or credit card works, too) and an email address.
And now? Now I’m going to take you through how to get that Korean book that you’ve been longing to read, even if you barely know how to read Korean. Step by step.
Part I: Create an account with Kyobo Bookstore
You should do this via a laptop or computer. This is Part I; for how to add money, or Kyobo ecash, to your account, please see Part II.
1. Go to the Kyobo Bookstore main page and input your information.
Click on 회원가입 in the top right menu bar. This takes you to Step 1: 인증하기 | Verification. On the left-hand side, you’ll see an option to input your email. This is for foreign customers; if you have an active Korean phone number, then your phone number works, too. Note that the part of your email preceding the @ sign should go in the leftmost box. The box following the @ sign should have your email provider (if your email is email@example.com then name should go in the left box and gmail.com should go in the right. If you try to type the @ sign, it will reject it).
2. Click 중복확인.
Did you double check for any typos? Now click the gray box (it has a question mark to the right of it) that says 중복확인.
3. Accept the terms and conditions.
After clicking the gray button, you’ll see it has updated to show blue text right below it, which basically tells you that the email address you input will be used for registration and that you need to scroll down and accept the terms and conditions before you’ll be emailed a link to complete registration.
It’s easiest to click the checkbox next to the bold text, 전체동의 (Agree to all) at the top. This auto-checks the other boxes for you. Then click the big blue button that says 약관동의하고 회원가입 (Accept terms and conditions and register).
If you’re anxious that you might sell your soul or liver due to hidden loops, then only check the boxes with a red “required” (필수) in parentheses.
The options in blue are, well, optional. At the time of writing this, the additional options include allowing the newly-acquired Hottracks to receive your registration info as well. Kyobo bought Hottracks, so really, it’s just the parent company letting you more easily access its newest member. Then the last one is their life insurance company, which may send you ads about its services.
4. Await your registration email and link.
Once you’ve accepted at least the red options and clicked the big blue button, the page will reload and give you a message telling you to go to the email account that you used for registering. Within about 30 minutes, you should receive an email with a link from Kyobo. Like any other account registration, you must click on this link to complete registration. Be patient in waiting for this email — it could take a while, but once it arrives, you must click on the link within three hours. Otherwise, it will expire, and you’ll have to start over.
You now have a Kyobo account!
Note: You cannot purchase ebooks directly; you must first load your account with money using a platform like Paypal or simply your debit/credit card, and then you can purchase a book with the Kyobo e-cash on your account.
Next up, you’ll need to put some “Kyobo e-cash” in your Kyobo account, which means it’s time to move to Part II. In Part II, I will tell you how to add Kyobo e-cash to your account and start reading your first Korean ebook!