Since its creation, Open Books has been focusing almost entirely on foreign literature. Within a few years, it earned a strong reputation with its Korean readers for the diversity of its catalogue and the quality of its translations.
In its early years, Open Books specialized in Russian literature and poetry and then slowly began to broaden its catalogue to European fiction in the early 1990s with very successful novels by Bernard Werber, Patrick Süskind and of course Umberto Eco whose landmark novel The Name of the Rose was first published by Open Books in 1986.
Open Books has translated and published over 1400 titles of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art books. Besides publishing all or most of the works of household names such as Paul Auster, Julian Barnes, Luis Sepúlveda and Umberto Eco, Open Books also included in its catalogue many other big names in contemporary fiction such as Sebastian Faulks, Amos Oz, Italo Calvino, John Fowles, John le Carré, Sarah Waters, Ali Smith, Martin Amis and Colm Tóibín.
Contemporary French literature is also quite well represented with major works by Amélie Nothomb, Michel Houellebecq, Catherine Millet, Marie Darrieussecq, Emmanuel Carrère, Jean Echenoz, Erik Orsenna, Pierre Lemaitre, Maylis de Kerangal and many others.
In addition to the works of Iain M. Banks, Open Books has published several other novels of science fiction, fantasy and other works that in Korea are filed under ‘Border Fiction’ because they cross the borders between genres.
To Say Nothing of the Dog and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis were published in 2001 and 2005 respectively. The award-winning SF classic epic Hyperion by Dan Simmons went out in 2009 and The Fall of Hyperion was published in 2011. Other ‘Border’ releases include novels by Jeffrey Ford (The Girl in the Glass), Robert Holdstock (Mythago Wood), Mike Resnick (Kirinyaga), David Brin (Startide Rising), Isaac Asimov (Azasel) and a collection of stories by Roger Zelazny.
The translators who work with Open Books on these projects are genre fiction buffs themselves and, as specialized translators, also take an active part in the selection of new titles.
Open Books has a few, carefully selected titles for the horror fiction fans out there, including Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula and The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.
In 2006, Open Books published Dead Until Dark, the first volume of Charlaine Harris’ bestselling Southern Vampire Mystery series, followed by 11 more Sookie Stackhouse novels.
The Korean translation of Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall was published in 2019.
Georges Simenon, one of the greatest and most prolific writers of the 20th Century, was still virtually unknown in Korea as very few of his works had been translated when Open Books decided to take up the challenge of reintroducing this master of crime fiction to the Korean readers through the adventures of Simenon’s larger-than-life character Commissaire Maigret.
The first 19 Maigret novels were published in 2011, and two additional classic Maigret titles in 2017.