By Ricardo Costa
In 2013, Brazil will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and it’s not too early to consider what the country has to offer.
With 220 million people and $2.5 billion in book sales for 2009, Brazil, has a book industry that is booming, one producing more titles –- with more efficiency –- and every day, not to mention discovering great new writers.
As the Brazilian economy grows, the government continues to invest more money in education and in the book industry. The start of this support was the creation of Câmara Brasileira do Livro (CBL -– Portuguese letters for Brazilian Book Chamber), almost 65 years ago.
In September, 20th 1946, at a meeting held in São Paulo, a group of publishers and booksellers founded CBL. Mr. Jorge Saraiva, director of Editora e Livraria Saraiva (Publishing House and Bookstore), was chosen as the first president. More than 60 years later, Rosely Boschini was elected the first woman to be the leader of the association.
Since its foundation, CBL has worked to promote literature and to encourage Brazilians to read more. The association, that brings together publishers, booksellers and distributors, also works to improve professionalism and competition in the Brazilian book industry. The first marketing campaign of CBL was: “Book, a gift that a real friend would give.” Today CBL has 630 associated companies.
The CBL is also an association that represents the different components of the book industry to the government, joining forces with the Brazilian Publishers Union (SNEL). Together, and with the support of the National Booksellers Association (ANL) and others Associations related to the book industry, they succeeded in eliminating the taxes on books. In addition, CBL and SNEL promote the two biggest book fairs in Brazil: CBL hosts the São Paulo International Book Fair, considered the second biggest in the world, while SNEL hosts The Rio International Book Fair, which take place on alternate years.
During the last few months, CBL, SNEL and other associations related to the book industry have been working against some modifications that the government is trying to introduce in a new project of copyright laws in Brazil. There was a Forum during the Book Fair in São Paulo last August to discuss that issue, with the presences of Jens Bammel (IPA -– International Publishers Association), Fernando Zapata López, (CERLALC -– Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y Caribe), and Olav Stokkmo, (IFRRO –- International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations).
Digital publishing is another issue that is important to CBL. In March, CBL promoted, in partnership with Frankfurt Book Fair, the First International Congress on Digital Books in Brazil, and last August, two days before the Book Fair, there was a Forum on Digital Books. Brazil now has three e-bookstores, but few e-books.
The Brazilian presence in Frankfurt is planned by CBL always in partnership with the Brazilian Publishers Union (SNEL -– letters in Portuguese for Sindicato Nacional dos Editores de Livros), National Library Foundation (FBN) and the Official Press of São Paulo State (Imprensa Oficial do Estado de São Paulo). In 2008, CBL signed with Apex (Agência Brasileira de Promoção de Exportações e Investimentos), a governmental agency to promote Brazilian products and business outside the country, to created the Brazilian Publishers project. As Dolores Manzano, the manager of the project explains, the goal is “to promote the Brazilian publishing industry worldwide.” This project helped Brazilian publishers to sell and to buy foreign rights last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
This year, the Brazilian booth hosted 46 exhibitors (44 are associated with CBL). Those who stopped by found a variety of work -– from childrens to coffee-table books. In addition to Brazilian publishers wanting to sell rights to their work, there are also buyers looking to find work that would appeal to the Brazilian market.
According to Boschini, the current president of CBL, “The recent partnership established with the Frankfurt Book Fair gives to the Brazilian publish market stronger presence at the Fair.” She is excited about 2013 “This is very important to us. I remember when Brazil was the guest of honour for the first time, in 1994, and that greatly improved our presence at the Fair. Since then, our booth is growing and more and more publishers are coming.”
Ricardo Costa is the editor of PublishNews.com.br, Brazil’s online publishing trade magazine.