Boycotted by Brazil’s Mainstream Media Book on Opposition’s Corruption Becomes Instant Bestseller

Privataria Tucana Amaury Ribeiro Junior’s A Privataria Tucana (Private is a neologism combining Privatization and Piracy. Tucano is a common name given to members of the PSDB party) is a controversial book written by a no less controversial journalist, but certainly competent at what he does. Former special reporter of weekly magazine Isto É and daily newspaper O Globo, Amaury has won several Esso awards, which were praised by his colleagues and bosses.

During the 2010 presidential campaign, Amaury was out of favor, after being accused of trying to purchase information from family members of presidential candidate José Serra, which were protected by fiscal secrecy.

Now, the journalist is living his personal redemption. He is the author of the biggest Brazilian publishing phenomenon in recent years. A book which, although boycotted by Brazil’s mainstream media, sold 15,000 copies in one day (the whole first edition becoming a best seller by Brazil’s editorial standards), being disputed in bookstores like hotcake.

Behind this success there is the hand of a no less controversial and also very competent publisher and editor. It is the journalist Luiz Fernando Emediato, owner of Geração Editorial, who has reached out to reporters willing to tell good stories.

He recently scored major successes of a political nature, such as Memória das Trevas (Darkness Memory) on late Bahia’s politician Antonio Carlos Magalhães, aka Toninho Malvadeza (Little Tony, the Wicked) and Honoráveis Bandidos (Honorable Bandits) on the family of former president and senator José Sarney.

In this interview Emediato talks about the commercial performance of A Privataria Tucana. He also reveals that José Serra, the former São Paulo governor tried, to prevent the book’s publication.

Were you expecting this kind of performance from a book on privatizations that happened so long ago?

I’ve never seen anything like it. 15 000 books were sold in a single day. It’s a phenomenon.

How was the marketing strategy?

We were afraid a court order might prevent the book’s distribution. And we didn’t send it to any newsroom. Only the author sent a copy to the weekly magazine Carta Capital, but all the noise was made on the Internet. The success proves that there is a great change in Brazilian society and reveals the strength of the blogosphere.

Has Geração Editorial ordered the printing of a new edition?

We are printing an extra 15,000. We underestimated the demand, but the mistake wasn’t ours alone. Some bookstores were not confident. But within a week the book will be again at all commercial outlets.

Did you suffer any pressure to not publish the book?

I wouldn’t say pressure, but a few days ago I was approached by someone who suggested I had a conversation with former governor José Serra.

Who was it?

It was Antônio Ramalho, a union member from the PSDB who is the vice president of Força Sindical (Union Force).

Did you feel intimidated?

It wasn’t exactly an intimidation, because the approach of Ramalho, who is a friend of mine, was very graceful. We sat, we had a coffee, he told me that Serra wanted to talk to me, I said no and we paid the check. In a democratic country, whoever feels uncomfortable has the right to sue me. Some time ago Guilherme Afif (vice-governor of São Paulo)  attacked me screaming, but I didn’t pay too much attention.

Do you expect many lawsuits?

That’s possible, but our lawyers say that the chance of us losing is very small. The book is very well documented. And there’s no personal attacks. These are concrete facts.

Serra is known as a vindictive person.

They say Serra has no opponents, but enemies. I even believe I’ve already been his victim in an article of Veja magazine called “The Force’s dark side”, where they mentioned me without my having anything to do with it. But that was not what led me to publish the book. And I, who felt offended by Veja, sued the magazine. I think I’ll win.

With these sales figures, the book will go into the bestseller list. Do you think Veja will include it in their weekly bestseller ranking?

They have to, otherwise it won’t look good for them. The speed of sales of Privataria Tucana is superior to what happened to Honoráveis Bandidos, which started in fourth place, climbed to third, second and then spent several weeks in the first. If Veja ignores it it won’t look good, because the book will surely enter the list of Folha, Estadão, Época…

How was 2011 for the Geração Editorial?

It was our best year. We were a small publisher that grossed 3 million reais (US$ 1.67 million) a year. We are still small, but we’ll reach about 7 million reais (US$ 3.91 million) a year.

What is the role of this book vis-à-vis the current “ethical clean-up”?

It may be a medicine against hypocrisy.

This article appeared originally at the digital newspaper Brasil 247.

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