In early August, Editora Abril, one of Brazil’s biggest publishers, announced that it would be employing massive cuts. Ten magazines were scrapped, with approximately 550 staff being laid off, among them around 150 journalists. While the news came as a shock, representing a bitter blow to the market, it was not altogether surprising to those in the know. In December of last year, Abril made 130 employees redundant almost immediately after Congress approved a sweeping labor reform, while the company as a whole is teetering on the verge of insolvency.
Abril’s case is not an isolated one, instead a prominent example of an industry which has been struggling for years. A survey commissioned by the Brazilian Book Council earlier this year showed that the Brazilian publishing market has shrunk repeatedly over the last three years. Since 2015, the accumulated decrease has been of 22 percent. Between 2016 and 2017, almost 30 million fewer books were sold in Brazil.
Much of this hardship can be put down to Brazil’s recent recession, the worst on record. Consumers are buying less, while the government has also decreased its purchase of educational books, one of the worst hit segments in recent years. However, this only tells half of the story.