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Arestas do Brasil / Edges of Brazil

Reading habits and platforms

Bruno Peron, 23 March 2017

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People read more and more; however, there has been a change in their reading habits and platforms. Books have been substituted by instruction manuals, flyers and leaflets (e.g. supermarket discounts) and screens of electronic devices (computers, mobile phones, tablets). Literacy process and linguistic ability (in Portuguese and in foreign languages) reach the highest importance in this era of communication and information. It is in this context that I encourage the reinvention of reading without the reader abandoning the purchase of books.

It is a fact that bookshops and stationeries have a considerable increase in their sales early in the school year. The students who have more difficulty to spend money are those who depend on technical and university books, which cost hundreds of reais if they are new. Law and Medicine students know well what I refer to. Thus, the acquisition of new books (especially those which are heavily illustrated) is becoming less viable by low-income students. It is necessary to remember that, at this moment in Brazil, most people are spending their money on necessary products and services. So expenses with food, for example, cannot be reduced too because there is lack of room in cemeteries.

Because culture in Brazil is evoked many times with government intervention, there have been quite a few progresses in tax incentives in the prices of books and discounts on postage (considered as “modest” registration by mail services). However, the corporative policy is the one that has really recovered the book sector through creativity and innovation. This was how the entrepreneur André Garcia founded Estante Virtual in October 2005, whose online network of bookshops grew so much as to publicise today books from 2.600 second-hand bookshops with a collection of over 15 million books.

The principle for this enterprise is the following: the spread of second-hand bookshops in physical shops around cities in Brazil used to make it hard for clients to consult books, and their acquisition used to take longer. Many second-hand bookshops were, yet, unknown and they did not organise their collections adequately. Books would remain frequently in dark shelves of small cities due to lack of organisation and online advertising of collection. These bookshops would wait for the opportune client who would luckily find the book that he needed.

In a different situation, I mention current methods for advertising and consulting materials and second-hand bookshops which are much more efficient on websites. The client-reader spares time, saves money, receives the book at home and has access to a larger variety of contents. The economy in buying books is great (more than 300%) for those who search for technical and university books on the Internet, for example those of Law, Economics and Medicine. These conveniences are due to the creation of a virtual environment of businesses in which there is competitiveness between second-hand bookshops that announce the same books; also, due to the sale of used books in varied degrees of conservation.

A visit to Estante Virtual’s website encourages our spirit of reader and reconsiders reading as a pleasurable activity. Income is also generated for booksellers, who, in spite of this, have made a petition a few years ago against changes in the sale conditions and taxes imposed by Estante Virtual. This company brought innovations into the Brazilian book market, but there are also other websites with a similar business model such as Livronauta and Sebos Online.

Contrary to what was suspected, the arrival of Amazon website to Brazil reinvents the taste for reading in our country. Reading does a massage in our mental faculties, amplifies our knowledge and improves our linguistic skills. Our communication gets clearer and more efficient. It may be that the format of reading through screens and monitors prevails over paper, but it will not suppress the taste for good quality printed books that educate and uplift human beings.

Therefore, dear reader, buy books and strive to read at least a few pages a day, no matter if they are new or old. Raise your cultural level as the well-educated beings daily do. Do not be afraid to learn and to encourage other people to the pathways of instruction and knowledge.