Igor Utsumi

Igor Utsumi

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


The Brazilian Book Market

Igor Utsumi

Igor Utsumi

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


The number of readers in Brazil is growing, and so is the Brazilian book market. In this article, we will give an overview of the current situation and point out some of the possibilities for this sector, including the real potential of e-books.

Brazil’s book market has been growing year after year. According to estimates made by the research company IBOPE, or Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística, Brazilian consumers in 2013 spent nearly BRL 8.8 billion in books. This represents a growth of 7% in comparison to 2012.

IBOPE states that almost 55% of the consumer potential are located in the southeast region of the country, mainly pushed by the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. Also, the class B of the population is responsible for almost 50% of the said amount.

Current situation of e-books in Brazil

The e-book is still widely unknown for a considerable part of the Brazilian population, especially among the poorer portion. There are several factors that can explain this situation, such as:

  • E-readers are relatively expensive in the country, costing at least BRL 299
  • Some of the main companies in this market, like Amazon and Kobo, were launched in the late 2012
  • Publishers are still investing in the digitalization of titles, even though the number of e-books is growing fast.

On one hand, the cheaper price of e-books and the convenience of not having to carry several books around have captivated readers across the country. The Federação Nacional das Escolas Particulares or Fenep, the entity that represents the Brazilian private schools, believes that 30% of the institutions are already using tablets in classrooms. Fenep states that the substitution of the digital versions in place of the printed ones might become a trend. However, the disappearance of the traditional paper books is not seen as plausible.

On the other hand, companies and publishers do not believe in a complete replacement any time soon. A research by the Brazilian Book Chamber, known as Câmara Brasileira do Livro or CBL, showed that almost 32% of the publishers have not entered the digital market yet. Additionally, 25% of them believe that e-books will never be a substitute for the printed ones. Around 50% think that this change will not happen in the next five years.

Potential of e-books

Companies and entities are betting on a big development over the next years. The selling of e-books had a share of less than 1% by the end of 2012, according to CBL. Some of the Brazilian main publishers have already attributed up to 4% of their market share in 2013 to e-books. These same publishers believe that this share can go up to almost 10% in 2014.

This segment is still very recent, and there are not a lot of studies about the real size of the market. Entities specialized in the Brazilian book market have not published a ranking of the best selling e-books yet.

Most popular books and genres

The most popular genres between Brazilian readers are school textbooks, instructional titles, foreign literature, and religious titles, as shown by some publications of Instituto Pró-Livro.

However, looking at the list of the best selling books in the country, some genres appear to have a bigger commercial appeal in Brazil. A market research published by GfK in 2013 indicates, that the genres with the largest market share are:

  1. Foreign Literature: 21.6%
  2. Infant and Child: 17.3%
  3. Religious: 7.2%
  4. Humanities: 6.3%
  5. Biographies: 4.3%

A ranking publicized by the specialized website Publishnews.com.br, listed the best selling titles in 2013. According to the sales of 12 of the biggest Brazilian bookstores, the Top Ten are:

  1. A Culpa é das Estrelas (The Fault in Our Stars), John Green
  2. Nada a Perder vol. 2, Edir Macedo
  3. Destrua este Diário (Wreck This Journal), Keri Smith
  4. Kairós, Padre Marcelo
  5. Ansiedade: Como Enfrentar o Mal do Século, Augusto Cury
  6. Assassinato de Reputações, Romeu Tuma Júnior
  7. A Menina que Roubava Livros (The Book Thief), Markus Zusak
  8. Cidades de Papel (Paper Towns), John Green
  9. O Teorema Katherine (An Abundance of Katherines), John Green
  10. Fim, Fernanda Torres

Reading Habits in Brazil

Even though the book market is growing quickly, the size of the non-reading population in Brazil is still big when compared to the United States or other European nations. There are approximately 13.2 million illiterates in the country, according to the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, known as IBGE. This corresponds to nearly 8.7% of the whole population.

Besides that, the latest research by Instituto Pró-Livro pointed out that a Brazilian reads an average of 2.1 whole books per year. For the surveyed, the biggest explanation for not reading more were their lack of available time, lack of interest or the preference for other activities. Watching television is the most popular among them.