Brazil's publishers seek UK partners

Brazil's publishers seek UK partners

More partnerships between English-language trade publishers and Brazilian houses are on the cards following Penguin's partial buy of Companhia das Letras, according to a leading figure in Brazil's book trade.

The Penguin Group acquired a 45% stake in the São Paulo-based publisher earlier this month, saying it was keen to develop growth opportunities in Brazil, a key emerging market. Speaking ahead of a presentation made to the Publishers Association's International Conference today (16th December), Carlo Carrenho, m.d. of printer and distributor Singular Digital, said other publishers in Brazil were now keen to take up the opportunities arising from new levels of interest from overseas.

"Now that Companhia has Penguin, its competitors are looking around," he said. "It is the first time that an English-language trade publisher has shown an interest in Brazil. The main opportunity is to be there yourself, either acquiring a company or with your own set-up. You don't have to just sell rights, and you can make a lot more money by being there. Now that Penguin has broken the ice, I think others will follow."

He added: "Penguin found a way of publishing in Portuguese [through its long-standing joint venture Penguin Companhia, which published Portuguese classics]. I think the main opportunity is actually to bring the English-language content into Brazil in Portuguese."

The Brazilian book market was worth R$4.506bn (£1.6bn) in 2010. The middle-class now make up 55% of the population, which has stimulated the book market, said Carrenho. Meanwhile, the number of college institutions in Brazil went from 1,117 to 2,284 between 2000 and 2009, with the number of college students almost doubling between 2001 and 2009—from 3.04 million to 5.95 million—according to research conducted by the Brazilian ministry of education.

Carrenho added that though e-books currently only make up an estimated 0.3% of total sales in Brazil, with fewer than 10,000 titles in the market, the market may reach 1% of sales by the end of next year. He added this could be another area of opportunity for UK publishers: "In South America, we are way ahead of the others. We have local bookstore chains that are already distributing digital. In digital, English publishers can play around and publish in Portuguese if you have the right people. You don't need a company [in Brazil]."

Both books and e-books are tax-free in Brazil, with the government currently discussing whether e-readers will also be made tax-free, as a book equivalent. Another stimulus to the digital market in Brazil is expected when technology group Foxconn begins to manufacture iPads in Brazil in the first quarter of 2012, giving the country more access to the device.