Brazilians will be reading this

Variety will be the main ingredient of the recipe to sell books in Brazil this year.
There will be food for all tastes, from the pulp-fiction bestseller authors to obscure
foreign essayists. Publishers are very optimistic and for the first time in a long time, thanks
to a stable economy, are being able to present long-term plans.

Divya Shukla

Variety will be the main ingredient of the recipe to sell books in Brazil this year.
There will be food for all tastes, from the pulp-fiction bestseller authors to obscure
foreign essayists. Publishers are very optimistic and for the first time in a long time, thanks
to a stable economy, are being able to present long-term plans.

Divya Shukla

Brazil and the world are getting ready for the 14th
Bienal Internacional do Livro de São Paulo (São Paulo’s Internacional
Book Fair), in which publishers introduce their readers and
distributors to new editions. The book festival, the largest of Latin
America, usually is held at Parque Ibirapuera’s Bienal Pavilion, but
this time it will take place in the Expo Center Norte from August 13 to
25.

The move was prompted by the need to accommodate larger audiences and provide them with better facilities
and parking accommodations, this according to Altair Brasil, president of CBL, the company that will promote the event.
The book festival’s purpose remains unchanged, to serve as meeting grounds between publishers and the public. The focus
has never been on actual book sales but on the promotion of books, very similar to fashion shows.

The book industry continues to be lucrative in Brazil. Altair Brazil, president of Câmara Brasileira do Livro
(Brazilian Chamber of Books) projected a 35% increase in profit in 1995 over 1994. The projected profit surpasses the increase
in the number of actual publications. There was an increase of 24% in publications in ’95 over ’94 compared with 4.3%
over the previous year.

Nevertheless, Paulo Rocco (of Rocco
publishers) doesn’t believe in the projections, he says that this
increase is only in the number of editions and it is not a proportional
increase in the demand.

Brazilian publishers expect 1996 to be a
good year for book sales. This optimism is mainly due to the economic
stability provided by President Cardoso’s Plano Real which helped
control runaway inflation to manageable one digit figures in ’95.

Publisher Ática will focus on travel guides in competition with
Folha de São Paulo‘s division called Publifolha.
Ática, in partnership with British publishers Dorling Kindersley, published two travel guides (New York and Paris) in the
past, and this year they will release travel guides for those planing to visit Roma and London.

 

Publifolha’s director, Ricardo Gandour, says that his company’s travel guides are popular because they also
contain beautiful images. The same applies to Ática’s children’s book division, which represents 10% of total revenues for
that company. Ática will also be investing in “instant books” as it did in 1995 with titles like
A Nova Guerra do Vietnã (The New Vietnam War) by Jayme Spitzcovsky and
Racismo Cordial (Cordial Racism). Both were originally special
news stories for Folha.

Very popular with Brazilian readers are the reference-type books. Many of these works will be available in
CD-ROM and videos this year. During Frankfurt’s Book Fair, which took place October of 1995, there was an overwhelming
demand for dictionaries, illustrated works, manuals and guides.

Will CD-ROM eventually make books extinct in Brazil? No, says Ática’s editor José Bantim Duarte. He believes
that works available in the electronic media format modifies the content of written material similar to translation into
a different language. Therefore, it is not a replacement but merely an expansion to the variety of material available to
the reader.

Even though publishers are branching out and releasing a variety of topics and formats, publishers believe that
the Brazilian book buyer will continue to purchase best sellers, books on mysticism and biographies. Therefore
publishing houses will continue to devote the majority of their resources to books
belonging to these subjects.

But there are exception to this like publisher Record which is aiming to please its alternative readers with its
Contraluz (Against the Light) series which publishes books focusing on homosexuality. The company, however, doesn’t intend
to abandon the publication of best-sellers, its biggest source of revenue.

Brazilian readers’ preferences have historically leaned towards biographies and reference books, but this year
there is an overwhelming volume of translations from classic and philosophical works. Some essays have been waiting
for translation for decades.

Brazilians will finally be able to read in Portuguese Elzbieta Ettinger’s biography on German philosopher
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976, who is well-known for his initial adherence to the Nazi movement). Ettinger caused a
scandal when her book was released in the ’95 Frankfurt Book Fair because of its intimate intellectual and sexual content,
which discusses the relationship between Ettinger and the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s (1905-1980) Being and Nothingness
will also be translated. Another classic to be available
is Monsieur Teste from French poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945) in which the author composes an autobiography under
an assumed identity.

 

Brazilian author, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, whose books have been out of circulation for a while, will release
several new editions this year. And post-modernism will have a chance of gaining popularity though releases from authors
Fredric
Jameson, Paul Virilio and Peter Sloterduk. Sloterduk, in his book, theorizes about the long term effects of the
European Unification and its effects on the politics of the continent.

American author Gore Vidal tells of his friendship with Jackie and John Kennedy in
Palimpsest. Another American, author Norman Mailer, details Lee Oswald’s life prior to John Kennedy’s assassination in
A História de Lee Oswald.

Many illustrated works will also be released. Peter Kindersley, chairman of DK Publishers, in interview to
newspaper Folha de São Paulo said that the concept of illustration isn’t new in Brazil, but that the demand for such works is.
Words and pictures are complementary and very much recognized especially after the invasion of multimedia in Brazil. In
fact, there are those who believe that because of Internet and electronic mail, printed-on-paper material will have to put a
tough fight to survive in the country.


Coming this year
(a sample)

Fiction & Poetry

Obra Reunida — Fernando Sabino (Nova Aguilar)

Perfeição — Vladimir Nabokov (Cia de Letras)

Ossos de Borboleta — Régis Bonvicino (Iluminuras)

Poemas — e.e. cummings (Francisco Alves)

Antes o Verão — Carlos Heitor Cony (Cia. de Letras)

O Bestiário ou Cortejo de Orfeu — Guillaume Apollinaire (Iluminuras)

 

Biographies

Palimpsest — Gore Vidal (Rocco)

A História de Lee Oswald — Norman Mailer (Record)

Galileu Galilei — Ludovico Geymonat (Nova Fronteira)

Toulouse-Lautrec – Uma Vida — Julia Frey (Paz e Terra)

 

Classic Essays

 

O Ser e o Nada — Jean-Paul Sartre (Vozes)

O Imaginário — Jean-Paul Sartre (Ática)

Monsieur Teste — Paul Valéry (Ática)

Breviário de Estética — Benedetto Croce (Ática)

A Dignidade da Poesia — Lezama Lima (Ática)

Prefácio a Shakespeare — Samuel Johnson (Iluminuras)

Fragmentos para a História da
Filosofia
— Arthur Schopenhauer (Iluminuras)

Os Alemães — Norbert Elias (Jorge Zahar)

 

Philosophy

 

O Fim da Modernidade — Gianni Vattimo (Martins Fontes)

Jacques Derrida — Derrida and Geoffrey Bennington (Zahar)

 

Art

 

O Mágico de Oz — Salman Rushdie (Rocco)

Imagens — Ingmar Bergman (Martins Fontes)

Retratos de Obras e Artistas — Giulio Carlo Argan (Martins Fontes)

A Poética Musical — Igor Stravinski (Zahar)

Beethoven: Um Compêndio — Barry Cooper (Zahar)

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