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Brazil

Brazil, A Nation That Doesn't Read

Cecilia Jorge, Agência Brasil, June 14, 2004

Brazil's publishing industry is the world's eighth in production volume. But the whole country has only 1,500 bookstores while 89 percent of Brazilian municipalities do not have a single bookstore. According to a new study, 61 percent of Brazil's literate adult population has very little or no contact with books.

The price of books, lack of libraries, and illiteracy can be considered some of the reasons for Brazil's low reading index. For the vice-president of the CBL (Câmara Brasileira do Livro-Brazilian Book Chamber), Bernardo Gurbanov, the low level of formal education is one of the chief causes of the reading situation in Brazil.

According to a CBL study, Portrait of Reading in Brazil, 61 percent of Brazil's literate adult population has very little or no contact with books. Among the 17 million people who don't like to read books, 11.5 million have 8 years of schooling or less.

"Without a doubt, we would require at least one library in each municipality. But it is not enough simply to erect buildings; it is necessary to complement this with planning aimed at education, instilling the habit of reading, and the offer of books, not just the classics, but the most contemporary and modern ones," Gurbanov argues.

What follows is a summary of the most important findings of the study, Portrait of Reading in Brazil, and data from other research.

The Habit of Reading

  • Schooling is the chief determinant of the degree of affinity for book reading.Book reading is valued, in fact, by only 1/3 of the literate adult population.
  • Access to Books Studies by the Ministry of Culture indicate that approximately 1,300 Brazilian municipalities in the poorest regions don't have public libraries.
  • 61 percent of literate adult Brazilians has very little or no contact with books.
  • 73 percent of the books are concentrated in the hands of only 16 percent of the population.
  • Over half the book purchasers (58 percent) are concentrated in six states in the South and Southeast regions.


  • The Book Market
  • Brazil has 1,500 bookstores (the ideal would be 10,000).
  • 89 percent of Brazilian municipalities lack bookstores.The Brazilian publishing industry is eighth in the world ranking by production volume.
  • Book acquisition by North American libraries is greater than Brazil's entire consumption.
  • Cecília Jorge works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government.

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