Jul 8 2021·
4 min read
Today, I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite ways of obtaining access to Korean books: 밀리의 서재 (Millie).
To cut to the chase, you can think of it as a subscription to Kindle Unlimited and Audible for a monthly price of ~10 USD. I think that it's a pretty good deal and is the perfect subscription for an intermediate or advanced Korean learner.
Burning to know how it works? Let's get started!
It's a subscription service where you pay 9,900 KRW (~10 USD) to access their library of books and audiobooks. They have applications on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac, making it very accessible to everyone.
In my search for accessible Korean reading and listening materials, I was disappointed to find that there were relatively few services similar to Kindle Unlimited in which you pay a fixed monthly fee to gain access to a library of books. Other than 밀리의 서재, there are a few other options like Kyobo's SAM, but they tend to have a worse selection of books (I read from a Korean blog somewhere which concluded that Millie had the widest range of books).
On top of access to their books, you also gain access to their audiobooks. One thing to take note for their audiobooks is that they are not readings of the full text. They only read the main parts of the book, which typically runs about 30-40 minutes per book. Depending on your preferences, you may think this is great (being able to listen to more books in less time) or bad (no full reading of the entire book). The readers vary from professional audiobook readers to celebrities to the actual authors of the books. In my opinion, this is one of their defining features - no other service that I know of has this.
The audiobook feature is also great for learners because the words that are being read are highlighted as the audio goes on, so you will not lose track of where you are.
Korean books aren't very accessible. I live in Singapore, and no major bookstore sells Korean books. As such, I obtain all my physical Korean books by importing them directly from GMarket Korea. It's not cheap, and the wait times are long.
As for e-books, they are not really that accessible to foreigners. Also, most e-book vendors have heavy DRM on their e-books, making it accessible only on their application (which if they were good would be no problem, but that's not the case). The only exception that I know whose DRM can be easily removed would be Google Play books, but their selection of Korean books is quite limited. e-Books are also not much cheaper as compared to their physical counterparts for the most part.
As such, having a subscription service is ideal. Even though it's not perfect, it's good enough for finding new books to read without having to fork out too much money.
I have an Onyx Boox Nova 3 which I do much of my reading on, and it's perfect for Millie! Unfortunately, you will not be able to install Millie onto the more mainstream e-readers like the Kindle or the Nook because they are not running Android.
If you try to subscribe to the service via their web portal instead of using the application, you'll notice that no matter how hard you try, your payment just won't go through. This is because Millie only accepts credit cards that are issued in Korea. This is quite a bummer and I initially gave up on Millie because of this, balking at the 30% cut that the Play Store would make on my recurring subscription.
However, after reading some discussions online, I was alerted to the fact that you could bypass this restriction by paying for the subscription either via the Play Store (for Android), or via the App Store (for Apple). This does come at the Google/Apple tax of 30% though, so you'd have to pay that much more each month for the subscription service. However, with no other viable alternative, I think it's a reasonable price to pay for what you are getting.
To do this, you have to start the subscription on your mobile device instead of doing it online.
Yay, your world of learning materials just increased by a lot! I hope that you'll gain as much from this service as I did.
We will send you at most 1 email (or two, if something special happens) a week when new posts are posted.