To help us understand the Brazilian ebook market, we asked newcomer Pablo Araújo (straight from Recife, Brazil) to analyse the situation. Pablo graduated in communication studies, advertising and media, and he did an amazingly thorough job creating nice infographics as well. As always, comments are very welcome.
“If you want to see a rainbow, first enjoy the rain!”, said Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. His book, The Alchemist sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, hitting #1 in 18 countries, and giving him a spot on the Guinness World Records. If we consider a market with hundreds of millions of potential readers a rainbow, and the rain is the risk you take when joining the Brazilian ebook market, the rain is very much welcome.
Brazilian book market overview
Brazil has a population of 210 million people. According to a survey conducted in 2015, 56% of people over the age of 5 – almost 89 million people – consider themselves readers. 77% of these people have declared that they would like to have read more last year.
With the increasing amount of readers, especially among the youth, it’s not a surprise that according to the Book Market Production and Sales Research, 385 million books were sold in 2016, resulting in a total revenue of BRL 5.27 billion (almost 1.65 bn USD).
Educational publishing in Brazil
If you think that the Brazilian ebook market runs solely by the rules of free market, you might be mistaken.
The book market is highly supported by government programs, especially for the educational sector. With the PNBE (National Program for School Library) and PNLD (National Program for Textbook and Materials) running since 1997 and 1937 respectively, educational publishing is blooming. In 2016, R$1.2 bn of total revenue came from the public coffers.
Trade publishing in Brazil
When it comes to trade publishing, both brick and mortar and online stores are popular among readers. Currently there are almost 800 active trade publishers in Brazil. Biggest players include the Globo, Sextante and Ediouro.
Brazilian ebook market: most popular genres
Ebooks accounted for 1.09% of total revenue in 2017. This number might sound little, but this represents almost R$42 million (USD 13 m). And it’s growing! It is already more than double of the R$20.4 million achieved in 2016.
If we do a closer observation, dividing by sector, the numbers change a little. In the categories fiction, non-fiction and self-help, the proportion of ebooks is twice as much as the market average. This can be related to the fact that the best selling genres vary, even if a little, between paperbacks and ebooks.
For paperbacks, the best selling genres are, respectively, fiction, poetry, self-help, non-fiction and social sciences and humanities. For ebooks, the most popular categories are similar, but not the same. This is actually in line with recent PublishDrive data. While our catalogue only contains self-publishers and independently published books, fiction, self-help, and reference are within the best selling categories in Brazil.
And the popularity of digital content is just expected to grow. Brazil is currently on 4th place in terms of active internet users worldwide, with almost 140 million people regularly going online. 80% of these people uses a mobile device to access the internet.
It is no wonder, then, that mobile devices also rule the ebook market. In 2015, 56% of people who have read an ebook did it on a smartphone. Computers or tablets are also prevalent choices for ebook customers. Regarding ereaders, only 4% used a dedicated device such as Kindle, Kobo or Saraiva’s LEV for reading.
According to current PublishDrive data, the main ebook retailers are Google Play, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd and Amazon, in this order.
Self-publishing on the Brazilian market
So far, we only talked about trade publishing. What about self-publishing? Are Brazilian and American trends similar? Is local self-publishing blooming?
Yes and yes.
The digital scenario is also leading to a silent but fast growth of the self-publishing community. Out of Amazon Brazil’s top 100 best sellers in 2017, 30 came from the Kindle Direct Publishing. Livraria Saraiva’s self-publishing platform ‘Publique-se’ had 16,000 titles uploaded in 2016 (a number close to the 19,900 independent print books published the same year). While these numbers still don’t seem a lot, the page itself rocks an amazing average monthly visit count of 12 million.
Although Saraiva’s influence is significant, they are not the only ones aiming to work with independent writers. Minha Biblioteca is focusing specifically on STM publishing. Árvore de Livros has a focus on schools and education. Nuvem de Livros, Clube de Autores and Livros Digitais.org accept all kinds of authors. The oldest, Clube de Autores has a fascinating number of 50k authors and more than 60k titles.
From Amazon textbooks to teen blockbusters fanfics, Brazilians are producing and consuming independent content.
Different business models
Besides aggregators, distributors and retailers, independent authors are also engaging on different kinds of “social media for writers”. Some of these platforms call themselves “online libraries”, offer author services or run apps. These sites and services let authors to share their books for free in order to get feedback and reviews from readers or other authors.
The list includes Wattpad, Livreto, Widbook, Minhateca, Scribe and Movellas. Just an example to see the numbers: the Canadian Wattpad has more than 800k brazilians among their 400m users. Brazil’s own ‘Wattpad’ is Widbook, operating from San Francisco. They have more than 250k members and 8k published books. Not as many as the massive amount of 175m Wattpad titles (5,3m in Portuguese), but still remarkable.
Popular languages: do foreign language books stand a chance?
Some authors might ask: Can I share ebooks in any language on the Brazilian market? Well, of course you can, and of course you should! Even though Brazil has lower rates of English speakers (only 5% of the population, and only 35% of this are advanced or fluent according to the British Council), many other languages are spoken across the country. Look at the map showing the most common first languages spoken in Brazil per state. Languages include international languages like Arabic, Dutch or Italian, and local languages Tupi and Guarani.
Looking at second languages, the most important languages after English are Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Chinese and Arabic. This might indicate a potential growth in the number of speakers of those languages.
Grow up and show up! Best marketing channels
As was said previously, Brazilians are extensively connected to internet. What better way to reach a potential audience than in their natural habitat? Their notorious appreciation for social media can be seen as an opportunity to get to new readers or other authors. Unlike in China, Brazilian readers can easily be reached on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube.
So, will this market fulfill the predictions of growth? We hope so. Millions of Brazilian readers are waiting for quality ebooks. We’d be happy to be your partner bringing your books to them. Are you ready to embark on this journey?
Questions about publishing your ebook for Brazilian audience? Leave a comment, I’ll be happy to answer it!