The Portuguese first arrived in Brazil in 1500, aboard a fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral. Five hundred years later Brazil welcomed another group of Portuguese adventurers, ones that did not have to cross the Atlantic on unreliable ships and had a more editorial interests in mind: Grupo Leya, the second largest book publisher in Portugal, which started their operations in Brazil in September 2009. In the 18 months since then Leya Brasil has built a solid catalogue and published several bestsellers.
After Mr. Cabral and Leya…Babel has landed. The Portuguese publisher opened a São Paulo office last October, with Portuguese executives Rui Gomes Araújo and Nuno Ramos at the helm, and their first titles in Brazilian Portuguese (yes, there is a huge difference!) have started to arrive in bookstores this week. The Portuguese publisher plans to have 100 titles, with several from local authors, in the Brazilian market by the end of the year. Babel hired the respected Brazilian writer Luiz Ruffato to oversee their growing catalog of Brazilian literature. Paulo Teixeira Pinto, Babel’s CEO, says that the Brazilian venture will not be a simple branch of the Portuguese group but “will develop its own identity.” In Europe, the publisher owns nine imprints and four bookstores.