With the Brazilian publishing headlines dominated by the on-going woes of the country’s big bookstore chains it’s all too easy to fall for the faux narrative that Brazilians and books are mutually exclusive.
The same of course could be said in the US and the UK where the near collapse of the UK’s Waterstone’s and the deeply worrying finances of the USA’s Barnes & Noble painted a bleak picture for the future of the book industry.
The reality of course is that these are high street retail issues related to rising trade costs, online competition and, yes, poor management.
What comes across in any objective look at events is that interest in books is not waning, and that cyclical fluctuations in trade are not harbingers of doom for the industry.
And so it is in Brazil where, the on-going judicial reviews of the fates of the big chain stores (Saraiva and Cultura) notwithstanding, Brazil’s booklovers are still keen to buy books.
Yes, we saw 10,000 fewer people at this year’s Festa do Livro da USP (University of São Paulo Book Party) compared to last year, but sales from those fewer visitors rose by some 15% compared to 2018.
Brazil’s publishing industry journal PublishNews tells us that some 460,000 books were sold, to the value of BRL $19 million ($4.5 million).
The lower footfall has been put down to poor weather conditions on the first two days of the event.
Some exhibitors found they simply couldn’t meet demand.
PublishNews quotes Cynthia Müller, commercial coordinator for Planeta, as saying,
One thing this year has taught us is that we have to be bigger, next year we will have many more tables, the space was insufficient to display everything we carry.
Daniela Kfouri, commercial and marketing director for HarperCollins Brazil, said,
The USP Party has already entered the HarperCollins calendar as one of the big events of the year, a party where we can get closer and closer to our readers. We had strong growth in sales this year.
Read more about the USP Book Party over at PublishNews (in Portuguese).