Society

The arrival of e-books wasn't the end of bookstores

While mega bookstores lose strength in Brazil, small and local ones are gaining ground

The arrival of e-books wasn't the end of bookstores

If the wave of megastores with a wide range of books and huge points of sale were booming during the early 2000s, that’s no longer the case – at least in Brazil.

Fnac, the large French retail chain selling cultural and electronic products, as well as others like mega bookstores Saraiva and Livraria Cultura have been facing some critical times in the country: the French company closed all of its 12 stores – the last one, in October 2018. According to the Brazilian newspaper Valor, Saraiva and Cultura are in the process of a judicial settlement, with debts of BRL 684 million and BRL 300 million, respectively.

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But while the future looks unsettling for some, it’s quite the opposite for others. That’s the case of some small and local book stores in São Paulo and other Brazilian cities, which are seeing an increase in sales with their selected titles and charming environments.

“People now want soulful bookstores, with a careful selection of titles and a convivial space,” said Alexandre Martins Fontes, the owner of one of these local businesses to Valor. The bookshop Martins Fontes has two points of sale in São Paulo, and is growing 38% this year.  

Other examples are Porto Alegre’s bookstore Baleia, and Belo Horizonte’s Livraria da Rua – both focusing on events, like musical concerts in the cities. The idea is to bring a cultural celebration of what is local, as well as fill a spot as a symbol of resistance. 

If Amazon is the winner of the e-books market, bringing fast delivery and convenience; these small businesses are going in the opposite direction– aiming at those who are looking for some experience beyond the titles.