Timeline of the Brazilian Publishing Marketplace: 1995-2012

Brazil flagLast year was a landmark year for Brazilian publishing market. Publishers and readers are beginning to shift to digital platforms, and now as 2013 starts, several international players — including as Amazon, Kobo, Penguin etc. — have taken root and are investing in the country. You might think the international interest in Brazil, digitization, and market consolidation are all new phenomena, but many began more than ten years ago. Publishing consultant Gerson Ramos has put together the following brief timeline of Brazilian publishing market since 1995.

1995

  • Booknet, the first online bookstore in Brazil opens in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Bookstore chain Livraria Nobel invests in franchising and expands to 10 stores, from the initial 4.
  • Bookstore chain Livraria Cultura launches its website.

1996

  • Beginning of megastore openings. Saraiva opens two stores in São Paulo with over 1,000 square meters each.
  • The Dutch group Elsevier arrives in Brazil, buying out publisher Campus, specialist in Computing and Business titles. The new publisher is called Campus Elsevier.

1997

  • Publisher Record begins to aggressive acquire other publishers like Bertrand, Difel, and Civilização Brasileira, that belonged to Altair Brasil.
  • Ática Cultural Shopping is opened. It’s the biggest bookstore in Brazil, with 4,600 square meters. It was financed by the Fernandes Dias family, based on the investments of their publishers Ática and Scipione, the first and the fourth biggest publishers of the country, respectively.

1998

  • Publisher Saraiva, specialized in Law and Textbooks, buys publisher Atual, increasing their market share in textbooks.
  • Only a year after its inauguration and with serious administrative problems, Ática Shopping is sold to the French group PPR, owners of the Fnac chain, who began their expansion through Latin America.
  • Geraldo Pereira and his sons, Marcus and Tomáz, heirs of renowned publisher José Olympio, create commercial trade publisher Sextante.
  • Saraiva opens an online bookstore.

1999

  • The French group Vivendi, then owners of Hachette and PPR’s biggest competitor, together with Publisher Abril, buys Ática and Scipione, becoming the first group with international capital in the Brazilian textbook market.
  • Publisher Rocco, already among the 20 biggest publishers, buys the rights for the Harry Potter series and jumps into the top five biggest publishing groups in Brazil.
  • Thanks to substantial foreign investment, Submarino online store is launched with a strong marketing campaign, buying Booknet and transferring their headquarters to São Paulo.

2000

  • During the expansion of the Internet bubble, many publishing projects are launched, among them, Nobel puts together investors and start 4 projects:
    1. B2C portal “Canal Compras”
    2. E-commerce services “Todo Conteúdo”
    3. First commercial ebook project “I-Editora”
    4. B2B portal for Books, CDs, DVDs and Games “Superpedido”
  • Saraiva buys publisher Renascer.
  • Livraria Cultura opens its second bookstore, in São Paulo, and start the process of becoming a chain store.
  • Pearson Group arrives in Brazil with STM market in view and buys publisher Makron, Campus’ biggest competitor in Computing and Business. McGraw-Hill had previously tried to enter Brazilian market also through Makron, but was unsuccessful.

2001

  • Publisher Record buys José Olympio, which then belonged to Xerox. José Olympio was one of the first and most traditional Brazilian publishers, and although it had lost some of its prestige in the previous years, its backlist had many important titles.
  • PublishNews sends their first newsletter, then a clipping service about the Brazilian publishing market.
  • Publisher Santillana, part of the Spanish giant media conglomerate Prisa, buys Brazilian publisher Moderna, created and directed by author Ricardo Feltre in 1968 and one the 3 biggest textbook publishers in Brazil.
  • Publisher Fundamento: Mauro Halfeld, journalist and economic analyst launched his publishing house in Curitiba. He will publish many best sellers in children books, among them many licenses from TV and history books to all audiences.

2002

  • With the intention putting Brazil on the international literary agenda, Liz Calder, a British literary agent, creates Flip, Festival de Literatura de Parati. The literary festival will grow to become one of the key literary events in the country.
  • Ediouro starts acquisitions process to face national and international competitors. The editorial group buys publishers Agir, owner of the eternal bestseller The Little Prince.
  • Campus/Elsevier buys publisher Negócios, aiming an expansion in the business books segment.
  • Unhappy about their representation in the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) and the National Publishers’ Union (SNEL), small publishers create LIBRE, the Brazilian Independent Publishers League, to confront market consolidation.
  • In one of the biggest negotiations involving a Brazilian writer, Paulo Coelho leaves Objetiva and transfers his books to Rocco. His book 11 minutes was released that year by Rocco, in one of the biggest media promotions up to that time.

2003

  • Global, then specialist in Sociology and History books, changes its profile and begins to invest in the textbook market buying the rights of many famous authors, such as Gilberto Freyre and Marcos Rey.
  • Publisher Vida, one of the biggest in the religious sector, launches Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. It’s the first time non-religious bookshops sell a Christian title.
  • Saraiva buys publisher Formato and increases their market share in children’s books.
  • French publisher Larousse arrives in Brazil, with a structure created from scratch, no acquisitions.
  • Spanish publisher Planeta, after an unsuccessful attempt to buy publisher Record in negotiations that lasted almost an year, arrives in Brazil, hiring staff and acquiring authors from many Brazilians publishers, inflating market prices.
  • With a modest market share and a catalog of mainly with self-help books, publisher Sextante buys the rights to a fiction title by an unknown writer and launches The Da Vinci Code in Brazil.
  • Created by Jorge Oakim, a novice in the publishing market, Intrínseca gains high visibility with the controversial book Hell by French writer Lolita Pille.
  • Alana group buys all the shares of B2B book portal Superpedido and begins a process of transformation of the company into a distributor.
  • Positivo group buys the rights to print Aurélio Dictionary that had belonged to Publisher Nova Fronteira since 1985.

2004

  • Bookstore chain Siciliano, facing financial complications, begins franchising project, and opens their first bookshop in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
  • Alana group buys the share of Nobel in Fase Logística and changes its operations, creating Biblion Logis, a company specialized in logistics to the publishing market.
  • Tecmedd, publisher and distributor, launches Novo Conceito for trade books, trying to diversify its lines up to then dedicated to STM.
  • Record buys publisher Best-Seller, which partly belonged to Nova Cultural group. Nova Cultural was the result of the family division of publisher Abril between the Civita brothers.
  • President Lula da Silva approves a law that eliminates some taxes from books, trying to undercut prices and help the national distribution.
  • Ediouro group buys Relume Dumará
  • Edições SM, another Spanish group, with a strong market share in the children’s and textbook segments, create its base in Brazil with focus on education.
  • Superpedido begins its operation distributing books with the biggest investment by a company in this sector.
  • McGraw Hill, American giant in STM segment, opens a Brazilian division to publish books.

2005

  • Record establishes a partnership with Canadian Harlequin to publish pocket books that would be sold in drugstores and newsstands.
  • Santillana group buys 65% of Objetiva and begins to publish fiction books in Brazil.
  • Planeta buys the rights of Paulo Coelho’s books for an official figure of US$800,000.

2006

  • After the death of founder Waldir Martins Fontes in 2000, publisher and bookstore Martins Fontes are divided between the two heirs, Evandro and Alexandre.
  • With the fusion of Submarino and ecommerce retailer Americanas.com, B2W Company is founded.
  • Ediouro group and American Christian publisher Thomas Nelson create a joint venture to bring their most successful titles to Brazil; other publishers had already launched some of them.

2007

  • Almost 70 years old, publisher Atlas, one of the biggest in the area of Law books, restructures board, generating speculation about their future.
  • Spanish group Anaya, controller of Larousse, exchanges stocks with Brazilian publisher Escala, and ends up with 51% of the recently created publishing house.
  • Guanabara, the biggest Medical publisher in Brazil, creates Grupo GEN and begins a process of acquisitions, buying Forense (Law) and Método (who publishes textbooks for public exams).
  • Ediouro buys 50% of Nova Fronteira, created by late politician Carlos Lacerda. It was the biggest competitor of publisher Record up to the beginning of the 90’s, when it began to lose market share.
  • Ediouro buys Nova Aguillar, also from the Lacerda family, publisher of many luxury books from the biggest names in literature.
  • Sextante buys 50% of Intrínseca. Intrínseca had been gaining market share with a catalog of best sellers.
  • In one of the biggest investments in a marketing campaign for a single book, Ediouro launches The Secret. The title remained a long-term bestseller.

2008

  • Abril hires J.P. Morgan to evaluate proposals to sell Ática and Scipione.
  • Grupo GEN buys publisher Santos, specialized in the Health segment.
  • In one of the longest and most publicized negotiations in the publishing market, Saraiva group announced the acquisition of Siciliano, a group formed by bookstores and publishing house (Arx, Caramelo and Futura). Saraiva becomes then the biggest book retailer in the country.
  • Ediouro buys publisher Desiderata.
  • Intrínseca publishes one of the biggest best sellers in the world, Twilight
  • Publisher Rocco, from Rio de Janeiro, opens a new publishing house in São Paulo, Prumo, with an independent editorial structure with a focus on teen audience.

2009

  • For the first time a publishing house cuts the prices of its backlist. Christian publisher Mundo Cristão tries to reposition its titles, especially in the non-religious market.
  • Ediouro creates a digital branch, called Singular, in an attempt to become the main supplier of print-on-demand services, digital books and self-publishing.
  • Superpedido, already a leader in distribution of trade books, buys Distribuidora Tecmedd, becoming the biggest distributor of general books and STM.
  • Retailer Livraria Cultura gets investment from private equity investment fund Neo, partner of Itaú bank.
  • Publisher Companhia das Letras begins a partnership with the American branch of Penguin.
  • Publisher Artmed, one of the biggest STM publishers in Brazil, creates Grupo A and buys the Brazilian division of American publisher McGraw-Hill that, as a consequence of 2008 financial crisis, decides to end their operations in Brazil.
  • Portuguese group Leya opens a branch in Brazil after giving up on the acquisition of publisher Nova Fronteira. They were already operating in Mozambique and Angola.
  • The first online bookstore dedicated exclusively to digital books opens. Duda Ernany and Ricardo Schermann, newcomers to the publishing market, create Gato Sabido in Rio de Janeiro.
  • After it failed to sell their participation in Nova Fronteira, Ediouro buys all of the publisher and incorporates its operational and commercial areas.

2010

  • Grupo A acquires 100% of publisher Artes Médicas.
  • American group Thomson Reuters buys publisher Revista dos Tribunais, specialized in Law books.
  • Record buys self-help publisher Verus.
  • The First Congress of the Digital Book is organized by a partnership between Brazilian Book Chamber CBL and Frankfurt Buchmesse, with debates about new publishing business technologies.
  • Digital Book Distributor, called DLD, is created by a joint venture among publishers Rocco, Objetiva, Sextante and Record, to protect their digital rights against the aggressive prices of online stores and possible foreign competitors entering Brazil.
  • Bookstore Vértice (the former owners of Revista dos Tribunais) buys distributor Empório dos Livros.
  • As a division of Gato Sabido, Xeriph is created, a platform of digital distribution to publishing houses that don’t want or can’t invest on their own in the increasing digital market.
  • Submarino takes Gato Sabido onto its online bookselling platform, creating conflicts with other publishers that were already selling through the specialized bookstore.
  • Escala buys back 100% of its stock from their international partner Anaya.
  • Grupo Gen buys law and academic publisher Forense Universitária.
  • Globo publishes Ágape, from Priest Marcelo Rossi. The title will become an all-time best seller, reaching 8 million copies sold two years after its release.
  • Leya buys publisher Casa da Palavra from Rio de Janeiro.
  • Saraiva launches a platform to sell digital books with an app called Saraiva Digital Reader.

2011

  • Grupo A opens a branch in Portugal, and becomes the first STM publisher from Brazil to make the inverse path in the global market, from Latin America to Europe.
  • Focusing on digital content for college students, Saraiva, Grupo GEN, Grupo A and Atlas create Minha Biblioteca (My Library), a platform for commercialization of digital textbooks from these publishers in different formats.
  • Singular, owned by Ediouro, begins a partnership with American book distributor Ingram, to print digital content through POD in Brazilian territory.
  • Penguin buys 45% of Companhia das Letras, becoming the first from the so-called US Big Six to establish operations in the Brazilian trade books market.
  • Submarino ends contract with Gato Sabido and makes a deal with the Brazilian division of American group The Copia to operate their digital store.
  • Amazon hires an executive from Livraria Cultura Digital to prepare its arrival in the Brazilian market.
  • Grupo Gen buys publisher Roca, another publisher specialized in Medical and Health titles, and publisher A.C. Farmarcêutica, specialized in medical journals.
  • Portuguese group Babel creates a publisher in Brazil. The goal is to publish Portuguese language authors.
  • In another multi-million dollar negotiation, Paulo Coelho changes publishers again, taking his books to Sextante.

2012

  • Livraria Cultura creates the Geek store, a new concept in bookstores, with “geek” products, like comics and action figures.
  • Empório dos Livros/Vértice buys online bookstore Cia dos Livros and tries to become a logistics operator, leading book distribution and book sales to the government.
  • Publisher Rideel and Martins Fontes become part of Biblioteca Virtual Universitária, an online library for universities, together with Companhia das Letras.
  • In an auction contested by Companhia das Letras and Record, Intrínseca wins the rights to publish Fifty Shades of Grey, with an offer of US$450,000.
  • German group Bertelsmann opens an office in São Paulo to advise on investments for the company in Brazil.
  • Publisher Novo Conceito joins with digital distributor DLD.
  • Brazilian market is shaken with information published by Bloomberg that Amazon was negotiating for the acquisition of Saraiva chain, which turned out not to be true. Saraiva shares become inflated, while Submarino’s dropped on that day.
  • Record buys Paz e Terra.

This timeline was originally published online by Gerson Ramos.

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