Juliana Mello

Juliana Mello

The Brazil Business


The Brazilian Publishing Market

Juliana Mello

Juliana Mello

The Brazil Business


In this article we made an overview of the publishing market in Brazil and its trends for the next years. We also include some information about the Brazilian's reading habits and best-sellers books in the country.

The Brazilian publishing industry is among the ten largest of the world. The market has invoiced BRL 4.8 billion in 2011, according to a survey made by Fundação Instituto de Pesquisas Econômicas (Foundation Institute of Economic Research). Out of the BRL 4.8 billion the publishing market invoiced, BRL 3.4 billion were sales in bookstores and other retail channels and BRL 1.3 billion was sold to the government, in purchases for public education programs.

According to a census made by FIPE (Economic Research Foundation Institute) there are currently 498 publishing companies in Brazil. Even though there’s a great amount of publishers in the country, the market is dominated by a limited number of large companies that are showing tendencies to merger.

Another trend is foreign companies buying Brazilian publishers as a way to get to the Brazilian consumer market, such as what happened with great Brazilian publisher Companhia das Letras that sold half of its shares to the Penguin group. The situation threatens the small and medium publishers that are likely to bankrupt with the internationalization of the Brazilian publishing market.

Above you can check the ranking of the top-seller Brazilian publishers in 2011. The survey was made by PublishNews:

1) Globo

2) Sextante

3) Ediouro

4) Novo Conceito

5) Intrínseca

6) Record

7) Santillana

8) Planeta

9) LeYa

10) Vergara & Riba

E-books in Brazil and the case of Amazon

In Brazil, the sales of e-books are still insignificant, representing 0.02% of the book market in the country, probably because the e-book reader is still quite expensive in here (around BRL 400). Also, there aren't great actions from national publishers to boost this market and sell digital books. Seems like they have a lot of money to lose if the consumers start to enjoy the electronic reading.

Hence the fight between Amazon and nationals publishers. The American retail giant was scheduled to land in Brazil on September, but it could not get into a deal with the largest Brazilian publishers, who consider Amazon’s plans too aggressive.
Publishers fear that, when Amazon starts its operations in Brazil, the price of the books will fall significantly. And this concern has existed for a long time. In the U.S., Amazon has achieved a strong market share with low prices and several bookstores went bankrupt with that.

Amazon has not won the big publishers yet. Meanwhile, the competition progresses. Apple, which already sells books via iTunes, has agreed to sell e-books at the price set by the publishers. And the Kobo, great e-book store, arrives in Brazil this year, including bringing its e-book reader.

By the end of the year, Apple will debut the iBookstore in Brazil soon. The Apple company has already signed a contract with some of the biggest Brazilian publishers, including Sextante, Intrínsica, Objetiva, and Rocco Record.

Amazon faces many obstacles to get to Brazil, also because of the pressure of national bookstores that already sell digital books, especially the retailer Saraiva. It is speculated that Amazon intend to buy Saraiva. Let’s see.

Book stores in Brazil

Even though the e-commerce for books is growing fast, the bookstores are still the place where Brazilians prefer to buy books. The physical stores are responsible for 44% of the units sold. Other numbers come from following distributors (20.5%), door to door sales (4.97%), schools (2.8%), churches and temples (1.74%). Supermarkets, newsstands are other significant sales channels.

Just like what happens with the publisher, a few of the largest bookstores in Brazil dominate the books retail. The sales are concentrated in the Southeast and South of Brazil, regions that have the largest number of bookstores in the country. In the rest of Brazil, large cities have the highest amount of avid book consumers.

The largest book retailers are also largest publishers, such as Saraiva, Nobel and Siciliano. Other e-commerce stores that sell a lot of books are Americanas and Submarino.

Brazilians’ reading habits and book sales

According to FIPE, Brazilians bought 469.5 million books in 2011, about 2.3 books per person, a number considered quite low compared to US or Europe, for example. According to IBGE there are 14 million illiterates in Brazil, and 1 out of 5 Brazilians are functional illiterates.

With these numbers is not difficult to conclude that the low amount of books sold is connected to the Brazilian educational system problems. But there’s also a cultural aspect involved. A research made by the Instituto Pró-Livro pointed that Brazilians read only 1.3 books per year. Most of the interviewees for this survey answered that they consider the act of reading uninteresting, and for that, they prefer to do other things, such as watch television.

Another reason to consider is economic. Books in Brazil are still very expensive compared to the purchasing power of the population. Even though the prices have dropped in the last few years, according to FIPE, a book in Brazil costs on average BRL 12,15. If we think within the logic of the national minimum salary (BRL 622,00), it gets easy to understand that among items of first need, such as food and clothes, books will be immediately scratched from the shopping list.

However, there are a lot of governmental projects that offer books for free and public libraries in Brazil with a good amount of books (around 95% of the Brazilian cities have a public library). The market of used books is also well-stocked, selling books for a third of their original prices.

Also, through internet, one can access several digital books for free. The facts show that there are opportunities for people in Brazil that want to read. The problem of reading in the country seems to have more to do with the bad basic education - according to UNESCO, Brazil ranks the 47th position among 52 countries evaluated - and the lack of a reading culture, social inclusion and interest from the population.

Best-sellers in Brazil

The bestseller list is dominated by foreign books in the fiction category. Below we replicate the bestseller list from Veja, a traditional Brazilian magazine. These lists are updated weekly. The ones down below are from November, 2012.


1) Cinquenta Tons de Liberdade (Fifty Shades Freed), E. L. James

2) Cinquenta Tons de Cinza (Fifty Shades of Grey), E. L. James

3) Cinquenta Tons Mais Escuros (Fifty Shades Darker), E. L. James

4) A Guerra dos Tronos (Game of Thrones), George R. R. Martin

5)A Dança dos Dragões (A Dance with Dragons), George R. R. Martin

6) A Travessia (Cross Roads), William P. Young

7) O Festim dos Corvos (A Feast for Crows), George R. R. Martin

8) A Fúria dos Reis (A Clash of Kings), George R. R. Martin

9) Êxtase (Rapture), Lauren Kate

10) Toda sua (Reflected in You), Sylvia Day


1) Diálogos possíveis, Érico Veríssimo

2) Carcereiros, Dráuzio Varella

3) A Queda, Diogo Mainardi

4) Um Lugar na Janela, Martha Medeiros

5) Marighella, o Guerreiro que iniciou o mundo, Mario Magalhães

6) One Direction, biografia (One Direction, biography), Danny White

7) Nada a Perder, Edir Macedo

8) Corações Descontrolados, Ana Beatriz Barbosa Silva

9) Uma Breve História do Cristianismo (A Short History of Christianity), Geoffrey Blaney

10) O Livro da Psicologia, Nigel Benson

Self-help and Esoteric

1) Eu Não Consigo Emagrecer, Pierre Dukan

2) Quem Pensa Enriquece (Think and Grow Rich), Napoleon Hill

3) Casamento Blindado, Renato e Cristiane Cardoso

4) Viajante Chic, Gloria Kalil

5) Encantadores de Vidas, Eduardo Moreira

6) Desperte o Milionário que há em Você, Carlos Wizard Martins

7) Agapinho, Padre Marcelo Rossi

8) Feridas da Alma, Padre Reginaldo Manzotti

9) Nietzsche para Estressados, Allan Percy

10) O Monge e o Executivo (The Servant), James C. Hunter