A few numbers on the Brazilian Book Market

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.


BooksBrazilHere we are, in the last month of 2013. It is a cliché, but it really feels like the year began just yesterday! Looking back, I see that this was a special year for Brazil in the book business. Yes, it’s true that Brazil is on the news now because of the World Cup, Olympics, economic growth and so forth, but also in the book business. Brazil’s presence is growing internationally: authors are being translated and participation in international book fairs has increased. This past year, Brazil was the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest book fair in the world. Over 90 authors were at the fair and also in many cities around Germany and even traveled to a few other countries nearby – and 650 cultural events around the Book Fair. Thanks the support of the National Library Fund for Translation, and the hard work of many publishers, authors and agents around the world published more than 250 titles from Brazilian authors in Germany. So, the vibe of this presence in Frankfurt, I’d like to share some figures about the Brazilian Book Market.

Every year the National Publishers Union (called SNEL in Portuguese) and the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) organize together a survey on the production and sales for the book market in Brazil, and this survey showed us that:

In 2012 Brazilian book industry published 57,473 titles (20,792 first edition), a total of 485,261,331 copies produced. Sales reached about $1.85 billion in revenue and almost a third of it came from the government purchases.

Brazilian publishing industry grew 3.04% in 2012. This percentage means a real decrease of 2.64%, considering 5.84% of inflation (IPCA index) in the same period. It is important to highlight the substantial influence of the government purchases in our book market. Considering exclusively market total sales, the industry grew only 0.49% in relation to 2011. And for the first time in almost a decade, book prices grew 12.46%, interrupting a downward trend that had been going on since 2004.

Another noteworthy information from the research is about the distribution channels: the brick-and-mortar bookstores are the main channel and are increasing their marketshare every year. In 2011, 44.90% book copies were sold through bookstores; in 2012 the number grew to 47.42%. Worth to mention here that the bookstores have strong expansion plans. For example, Livraria Saraiva, the biggest bookstore chain in Brazil opened its first airport store last September at the biggest airport in South America – The São Paulo International Airport – and has plans to open three other new  stores next year, outside airports. Another example is the distributor Bookpartner that just announced a plan to open 10 stores until the end of 2014 and a project to grow on the next years, including a franchising operation.

And, of course, there is the eBook market. Although it is a growing market, it is still small in Brazil. If we look only to the SNEL/CBL research, numbers are even smaller: 7,663 titles available. But this refers to only 197 publishers who reported to this research. According to the blog Revolução eBook, that covers eBook business in Brazil, in 2011 there were only 2,000 to 3,000 titles available. The number increased to 11,000 in the beginning of 2012 and 16,000 by August 2012. Their last counting, in May 2013, showed more than 25,000 titles available.

Because the eBook market in Brazil is so new and small, it is difficult to get reliable figures, but I can share with you some “sound guesstimations”. Carlo Carrenho, director at PublishNews and blogger on eBook issues – his blog, Tipos Digitais – wrote on an article for Publishing Perspectives that the market share for eBooks in 2012 was 0,5%. And that the growth from 2011 to 2012 was of about 343%, but “that doesn’t mean much, since the market in 2011 was so little and research on the digital book world was so new”, says Carlo on his post.

In conversations with publishers in 2013 I’ve heard that some of them are already experiencing 10%, 12% and sometimes 15% of the revenue in some titles coming from the digital version. Of course that has some connection with Amazon, Google and Apple launching their eBook stores in Brazil by the end of 2012 and Kobo partnering with Livraria Cultura by the same time. The predictions for 2013 are something between 2% and 3%. Some more optimists even say 5%. I don’t think so. Yet…

**Book image via Shutterstock

Expert Publishing Blog
Ricardo Costa

About Ricardo Costa

Ricardo Costa is a consultant in book business in Brazil. For six years, he was the Partner-director at PublishNews - the media trade in Brazil (Portuguese version) - and at PublishNews Brazil - the media trade about Brazil’s book market (in English). He graduated as Systems Analyst and has specialization courses in Publishing. Worked for 6 years as Editorial Director and Marketing Director; and before that worked as Product Manager at HBO Brazil. After leaving the job at the Publishing House, worked as a consultant on Publishing Plans and Publishing Houses administration for 3 years, and joined Carlo Carrenho at PublishNews in April 1st, 2007. For the last 6 years Ricardo has being following the happenings and the changes on the book market in Brazil and around the world, specially focused on the digital book market.

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