(Editor’s note: This article was updated from its first release in MAI’s Trainer Network newsletter article, “Brazil’s Publishing Universe,” May 2006.)
The size of Brazil’s evangelical Church continues to soar. Pentecostals (by far the largest evangelical group), together with Presbyterians, Methodists, and many other Protestant denominations comprise about thirty-six million people, or nearly twenty percent of Brazil’s population. “Evangelical churches are growing at around seven percent per year,” said Sinval Filho, coordinator for the Associação de Editores Cristãos (ASEC), the nation’s Christian publishing association.1
As the Church grows, Christian readers are growing the publishing industry, according to Whaner Endo, founder/publisher of W4 Editora publishing house and former executive director of ASEC. Besides seventy-three publishers affiliated with ASEC, he estimated that more than one hundred small Christian publishers are connected to churches and produce one or two books per year.
Despite this plethora of publishers, challenges abound. “Many publishers in Brazil are producing what they like, but not what readers want,” said Ricardo Costa, director of PublishNews Brazil, a news and analysis service. In addition, Christian publishers need a boost in professionalism to contend in the competitive market and reach readers beyond the Church. “Often, Christians are so focused on their own world that they lack the vocabulary to talk with people outside of their ‘ghetto,’” Costa said. But the opportunities are huge. For example, general readers buy self-help books, which Christians could produce well.
Christians read an average of five books a year, forty percent more than the average Brazilian, Endo says. They also prefer nonfiction—self-help, Christian living, and Bible studies. Inspirational and gift books are also popular. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life sold more than 380,000 copies, sales second only to the Bible.
Brazil’s publishing industry is healthy, but more skilled Christian professionals are needed to maximize the potential of the written word to transform society.
1. Cited in a press release by Christian Trade Association International, 14 February 2011.