The c.e.o of Penguin Random House-owned Companhia das Letras in Brazil has issued a heartfelt plea for people to buy and give books as presents this Christmas in a blog post that has gone viral.
In the post, ’Love Letter to Books’, Luiz Schwarcz also calls on publishing partners to prop up Brazil’s book industry amid a major crisis which last month saw two of the nation’s most prominent bookstore chains, Saravia and Livraria Cultura, file for bankruptcy protection.
Brazil has also seen book sales fall roughly 40% in the past few years, according to Publishers Weekly.
In his open letter, Schwarcz called for book lovers to “spread the desire to buy books at the end of the year” and to help “rebuild” struggling bookstores plus a rallying cry to publishers to help booksellers weather the crisis.
He wrote: "The larger publishing houses are naturally the bookstores' major creditors, they carry the heaviest financial weight. However, we have the means to survive this crisis: the partners of the leading publishers have the financial personal capacity to invest in [the bookstores], and many of us not only want to save our enterprises, but are idealistic at heart, and extremely protective of our authors and readers."
Looking to this year’s presidential election in Brazil which saw populist Jair Bolsonaro elected to office in the wake of social media marketing campaigns, Schwarcz urged publishers to learn a lesson.
He wrote: "The solidarity networks that formed during the electoral campaign are perhaps a good example of what could be done for the book today. Letters, Whatsapp messages, emails, social media posts and videos, produced with sincerity and an open heart, rallying around fellow bookworld stakeholders, especially its more fragile players, are more than just welcome now: they are indispensable. What we need at this juncture, among other things, are love letters to books."
Marcos da Veiga Pereira, president of SNEL - the National Union of Book Publishers - has echoed Schwarcz’s call and has launched a Twitter campaign under the hashtags #desafiodaslivrarias and #comprelivros calling on readers to buy a book from a bookstore, challenge friends to do the same thing and then post on social media.