“Associations help share best practices and camaraderie in difficult times”

shares Karine Pansa, vice-president of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and a board director for the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL).

Karine Pansa
Karine Pansa

Karine Pansa is the owner and Publishing Director at Girassol – a children’s books publisher in São Paulo Brazil; the vice-president of the International Publishers Association (IPA); and a board director for the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL). Until recently she was on the Board of Directors at the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, facilitating the inclusion of blind and low vision children, youth and adults through free and specialized rehabilitation services, special education, low vision clinic and employability programs. Here, she shares more about the publishing industry in Brazil.

Publishing in Brazil…

Publishing in Brazil is split into two main markets – what we call ‘government’ sales and ‘market’ sales. Government sales represents about 51% of volume, with market sales 49% volume. However those market sales represent 70% of the income. There are around 2,000 book imprints in Brazil. We don’t have any fixed book price so high discounts are available to customers. The top 15 publishers make up 55% of sales volume, some of the biggest publishers being Cia das Letras, Sextante and Record.

Brazil as a publishing super power…

As the third territory in the world, we have a big growing potential. A country in development with great production, creative authors, very competent illustrators give us huge possibilities of developing our market internally and abroad.

The key strengths for competitiveness and a global outreach….

I think we recognized many years ago the importance of working together to promote our publishing and that creating a positive impression of Brazilian publishing market would benefit all publishers. The Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) has a project called Brazilian Publishers, a joint collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that promotes our exporting and rights sales. Years of investment and dedicated promotion have created that international recognition of the quality of our publishing industry, our authors and our illustrators.

Publishing in pandemic times…

Generally speaking, our market has been performing well. The pandemic period performed differently around the world. We’ve had markets that have really struggled with a decrease in sales and other markets which were surprisingly strong. For Brazil, recovery from last year will take time and has set us back.

Role of associations…

If ever there was any doubt, this type of crisis shows us exactly why we need our trade associations both at national and international level. Having that network of colleagues to exchange with and share best practice but also that camaraderie in difficult times is vital. At the international level, Hugo Setzer, IPA’s past President made sure IPA was in touch with all of its members, checking in on the local situation and whether IPA could provide any support. IPA did that for Brazil on the VAT situation and it feels good to know that you have that international support if you need it.

Key challenges …

The industry had to adapt last year to build a more direct relationship with readers. Publishers in Brazil have mainly sold to booksellers and that had to rapidly change last year. Other than that, distribution remains a major challenge for the industry in Brazil and we will soon see what the impact of the pandemic is on the existing bookshops we have.

Future growth prospects…

Shifting to digital distribution and other digital formats will be vital. Some publishers already do this well but others need to catch up. In the educational publishing sector, we have publishers who say their business has progressed 5 years in the last 9 months. This accelerated transition will obviously continue as long as the pandemic disrupts the traditional sales and distribution networks.

On Brazilian Guest of Honor programmes in book fairs…

We have been working on the Brazilan Publishers project to export books for a number of years now. This started before the series of guest of honour programmes. We wanted to show off our diversity, the high quality of our books. We can see the impact but we have to continue to work hard on this, to make sure Brazilian publishers can travel and sell their books worldwide.

On being IPA Vice President….

I am delighted to be taking on this role as Vice President of the International Publishers Association and I’m really looking forward to working with Bodour to support her objectives for her presidency. My initial focus will be working with our colleagues in Indonesia to prepare for the 33rd International Publishers Congress in Jakarta in November 2022.

Your passion for children publishing….

I was kind of born in this industry, I grew up attending book fairs and book festivals because my father used to work at a publishing house. It was something natural to me to be part of this. At some point I realized the importance of the habit of reading and children’s books and it made me want to participate in this loop. After graduating in Business Administration and already working at a Children’s publishing house I sensed that I could make a difference in our community. That was when I decided to stay and really become a Children’s book publisher.

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