RIO DE JANEIRO – The International Biennial of the Book in Rio de Janeiro has now opened for the 18th time, its symbolic coming-of-age edition, and is defying the nation’s crippling crisis while placing its hopes on the young.
Considered one of the most important events of Brazilian literature together with the book fair of Sao Paulo, the Biennial, which has just opened at Riocentro on the west side of Brazil’s most iconic city, focuses on Brazilian writers including the “YouTubers,” a new sales phenomenon among the young.
Just a dozen international authors will be on hand for the Biennial, including the UK’s Paula Hawkins (“The Girl on the Train”), and Americans Karin Slaughter (“Blindsighted”) and Victoria Schwab (“A Darker Shade of Magic”).
Despite the crisis, which is hitting the state of Rio de Janeiro particularly hard, the organizers expect to welcome some 700,000 people – 40 percent more than the last edition in 2015 – before it closes on Sept. 10.
In all, close to 900 publishing house representatives and 330 authors will be present at the Biennial, which offers, besides discounts of up to 50 percent on the price of books, discussion forums plus fun and games for the youngest, who can interact with their favorite writers including on social networks, and has a space for nerds with exhibits of heightened realism, games and costumes.
The challenge is to win the young, who now buy half the books sold in Brazil, which has shown notably declining sales in recent years, with a collapse of 11 percent in 2016 alone, according to estimates of the sector.
However, the crisis doesn’t seem that important to publishing houses like Globolivro, which has increased its presence at the Biennial this year while doubling its youth section.
“The country is in crisis, but the book market shows signs of coming back. There are great expectations and we believe we’ll have good results,” Globolivro spokeswoman Amanda Orlando told EFE.
Planeta Brasil, on the other hand, decided to reduce its space this year but to maintain its strategy of organizing events and presentations with its authors, including some YouTubers.
Besides literature for kids, comics and the YouTuber phenomenon, the Biennial is the best opportunity to get the latest scoop on the Brazil’s most fashionable subject: corruption.
Readers can find full coverage of the scandals reported daily in the press under such book titles as “Corruption, How and Why Your Money Went to a Thief,” “Strange Cathedrals,” and several about former lawmaker Eduardo Cunha, who came to be known as Brazil’s most powerful politician, and who just two days before being arrested opened a publishing house.
He is now serving a 15 year sentence.