Market snapshot: Brazil

<p>In 2008 Brazil produced nearly three and half million books, making it responsible for 50% of the books produced in Latin America and the eighth biggest book market in the world. Despite this figure, a dearth of well-known authors (Paulo Coelho being the only Brazilian author to become a household name) has resulted in the country long residing under the radar of the Western markets.<br />
<br />
Literacy levels in Brazil are incredibly low with only 55% of the population of 190 million receiving a school education and only a third describing themselves as regular readers. These poor levels of education ensure that reading, especially in the north and mid-west areas, is restricted primarily to textbooks and the Bible. As J&eacute;zio Hernani Bomfim Gutierre, executive publisher of Editora Unesp, an academic publisher linked to the University of S&atilde;o Paulo, says: &ldquo;The problem in Brazil isn&rsquo;t just that there is a concentration of wealth, but that there is also a concentration of information. The Brazilian middle class is growing, but their reading habits aren&rsquo;t.&rdquo;<br />
<br />
The Brazilian government is the biggest buyer of books in the world, buying 57.5% of the 211,542,458 copies sold in the country in 2008. Fifty-two percent of the books produced in Brazil are textbooks, bought by the state from publishers under three schemes buying for primary education, secondary schools and school libraries. Despite this high percentage of sales, however, an average discount rate of 85% means that the state&rsquo;s purchases only actually provide 28% of the country&rsquo;s total books income: book sales in Brazil in 2008 were worth nearly $1.7bn&nbsp; (&pound;1.1bn) with the government&rsquo;s contribution reaching just $434m (&pound;270m).<br />
<br />
At various times throughout the year, every publisher can submit 20 titles to the state in the hope of having them picked up by one of schemes. Although a discount rate of 85% might seem excessive to an outsider, selling books to the state is still incredibly worthwhile for Brazilian publishers, some of whom rely on government sales to remain afloat. As the reading market in Brazil is so low the average print run for books is small, around two to three thousand for the majority of books, but print runs for books commissioned by the state are much larger in size, reaching figures of around 40,000 to 50,000. <br />
For Erivan Gomes, director of Editora Cortez, a publishing house based in S&atilde;o Paulo, government sales have proved tremendously beneficial: &ldquo;Last year the state government of Fortaleza bought 230,000 copies of our children&rsquo;s book on Fortaleza, from our City series, for every child in the state. That was amazing for us financially and we&rsquo;re hoping that other state governments follow suit.&rdquo;<br />
<br />
Door to door<br />
It is the sheer size of Brazil that dictates the high discount rate of state purchases, efficient distribution is a real issue and getting books out to the poorest and most rural areas is an expensive and time-consuming business. So, while door to door selling may have become unfashionable in Britain in the 1960s, in Brazil, porta a porta selling results in 13.66% of the country's total sales. The majority of books sold through this method are religious texts, an area that made up just over 10% of the titles produced in 2008 and 37% of the copies produced.<br />
<br />
Can&ccedil;&atilde;o Nova, a Catholic publishing house based in S&atilde;o Paulo, has 22,000 porta a porta sellers and produces a new catalogue for this purpose every three months. Although its books are not often picked up by bookstores, it is flourishing without much retailer support, and its titles consistently demand higher than average print runs (around 10,000 copies). Cristiana Maria Negr&atilde;o, editor of Can&ccedil;&atilde;o Nova, attributes their success to the price of the books: &quot;Our books are cheaper than the average book found in bookshops. Brazil is split into five social classes and we cater for the last two, the D and E classes. Our books are smaller in size, use simpler language and follow a central theme of religion: they appeal to customers not usually reached by the fancy bookshops in Rio de Janeiro and S&atilde;o Paulo.&quot;<br />
<br />
Fair dealings<br />
There are 2,676 bookshops in Brazil, 53% of which are located in the south-east of the country. The north of the country, the largest area geographically, has only 5% of the bookshops. This discrepancy, combined with the high cost of books in Brazil, makes the Bienal do Livro, Brazil's annual book fair, especially important when it comes to selling books to the public. Primarily a promotional activity by Brazil's two publishing associations to encourage younger audiences to become avid readers, the fair alternates location each year between S&atilde;o Paulo, where it is organised by the CBL (C&acirc;mara Brasileira do Livro), and Rio de Janeiro, where it is organised by SNEL (Sindicato Nacional dos Editores de Libros). Despite its size, it covers more than 55,000sq m, the fair lacks a commercial international presence with Brazilian companies making up about 95% of the exhibitors.<br />
<br />
A third of the 600,000 visitors at this year's fair in Rio were children and there were 84 events created especially for them. Both the CBL and SNEL see changing the attitudes of the young, and creating future generations who are regular readers, as the only real way to transform Brazil and create a reading culture. It is for this reason that each year 500 reais (&pound;172) is given away to every public school to facilitate a trip to the fair and five reais (&pound;1.72) is given to every child, so that they can buy books for themselves. The scheme is hugely successful and the fair acts, in essence, as a giant bookshop. The popular Brazilian retail chain Livraria da Travessa has a stand at the fair every year, and reported sales of 3,000 books in its first three days this year.<br />
<br />
According to the CBL there are 530 &quot;active book companies&quot; operating in Brazil but even with this high number the publishing industry remains close-knit. With few international links it has remained virtually untouched by the global recession: stable but static. Cosac Naify publishes high-end art, literature and children's books and is one of several publishers in Brazil that do look outward to the international market. It has produced several titles in conjunction with international art galleries. Cassiano Elek Machado, editor at Cosac Naify, explains: &quot;We see ourselves as more of a cultural project rather than a publisher. We're so keen for Brazilian artists, poets and writers to be picked up by the international market and vice versa. We do all we can to work with international publishers to connect with people globally, from Facebook pages to Twitter feeds.&quot;<br />
<br />
As Rosely Boschini, president of the CBL, says: &quot;The Brazilian publishing market is a very mature one, but it is also a family-owned market that needs help to develop on an international scale. We have developed several initiatives with Apex (The Brazilian Trade &amp; Investment Promotion Agency), to help the industry promote itself to the international market and we are starting to see positive affects.&quot; One such initiative is a tax exemption that has been in place since 2004: it gives publishers and booksellers between 3.5% and 9% off their taxes (depending on their size) and has resulted in a 20% drop in prices. This positive drop has helped grow the market by 15% year on year, and has helped the average number of books read by Brazilian's each year rise from 1.8 in 2003 to 4.7 in 2008. <br />
<br />
Another key factor in Brazilian publishing is the translation market; with nearly 12% of titles produced in 2008 translated from a foreign language (6,226 titles out of 51,129); an increase of nearly 5% from 2007. In contrast the business of translating Brazilian works into foreign languages is relatively small. To counteract this discrepancy CBL and Apex have been providing publishers with foreign rights training to get them ready for this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. Although many publishers have been to the fair before the aim of this year's visit, more than ever before, is to build international relations and secure the all-important rights deals that will bring Brazilian authors, illustrators and publishers into the limelight.</p>