Last week Brazilian publishers welcomed the arrival of the Frankfurt Buchmesse in Brazil. The company hosted a conference about education, transmedia and technology, called CONTEC (see our preview here). Additionally, they announced the opening of a Brazil office in 2013 and the creation of a new annual international book fair, in São Paulo.
The CONTEC conference took place in August 7th and 8th, and tackled issues and challenges of the Brazilian publishing market, such as the high illiteracy rates and the creation of reading habits. One highlight of the conference was the presentation of Brij Kothari, from the NGO Planet Read, India, on the effect of “same language subtitles” in the reduction of functional illiteracy rates. The second day of the conference focused on technology and readership. Philippa Donovan, from Egmont press, Marcelo Gioia, from The Copia Brazil, and Jesse Potash, from Pubslush, among others, spoke throughout the day about how technology and social networks created a new type of reader, thus demanding a new type of publisher.
CONTEC Brazil, as will be called the annual book fair, aims to promote an educational environment, along the lines of the German book fair model, with three days restricted to professionals and two days open to the public, but will also host lectures on education, technology, transmedia, literacy and content.
Juergen Boos, CEO of the Frankfurt Buchmesse, spoke to PublishNews Brazil about the reasons for opening a branch in the country “Brazil has a huge local market, with nearly 200m people, it has a large publishing market, but it is very focused on the ‘local’, it doesn’t have yet an international network, and I think this is where we can have an important role: bringing international contacts.”
The Frankfurt Book Fair has offices from Russia to India, promoting German language and culture, but mainly helping publishing business. “Our goal is also to support publishing worldwide” says Boos. “There are several activities that revolve around the publishing industry, but also address the gaming, movie, and television industries, and the point of all this is educating the sector” he adds.
In other countries, such as India, for instance, the Book Fair offers courses together with local universities. “We would like to work with a Brazilian university too, because I believe that everything we do should be local. We can bring our expertise, but we should have professionals from the local market. ”
But Brazil, even with a consistently growing publishing market, faces problems, not the least of which is a dearth of readers as a result of high functional illiteracy rates, something that may well be an impediment for long-run growth. On this paradox, Juergen Boos notes: “On one hand it is booming, but on the other hand, it depends a lot on who is behind supporting publishing market.”