Positive news for print lovers – well, if you’re in the tropics anyway. Last year, newspaper circulation in Brazil rose by 1.8 per cent to 4.52 million copies, a historic record.
Freshly arrived from São Paulo, I can confirm that the newsagents there are looking very healthy indeed. Packed with a range of titles unimaginable when I was a kid, I could only smile at the riches on offer lighting up the grey walls of stands that line the pavements of the city.
In the past it was sometimes a struggle to find an international magazine in the city but now even in your local newsagent you can find a great selection of titles. And they’re cheaper then a few years ago, despite the exorbitant taxes for imported products.
The month of January is “silly season” in Brazil, when everybody is enjoying the summer holidays and getting ready for Carnival, so the papers are full of stories about the new samba queens or lifestyle features about how to lose weight. But even then, glancing through a couple of issues while I was there, I could see that the number of supplements in the papers keeps rising and not only at weekends.
The O Estado de São Paulo for example, has an excellent food supplement every Thursday, Folha de São Paulo has its lovely weekend guide on Fridays. Recently Folha even offered a Madonna single to all its readers and they often have a DVD collection to go with the paper. Mammoth Sunday issues are everywhere, another sign of the financial strength of Brazilian papers.
What about the magazines? Well, that’s another positive story. It’s impressive to see the selection available. From renowned international titles to more original publications like Piauí – the “Brazilian New Yorker” or FFW, a visionary fashion title founded by Paulo Borges, the creative director of São Paulo Fashion Week.
Another magazine, Trip, started as a read for surfers but has become a delicious blend of topics from politics to mountaineering. A couple of years ago it caused quite a stir when it produced a cover showing two gay surfers kissing. One publishing house in Germany liked what they saw so much that they founded a German edition.
As you might expect, international media companies are taking notice of the boom. The Financial Times recently launched a digital print site in São Paulo, and The New York Times showed their interest in the Brazilian market with plans for a website in Portuguese this year.
There are few better things than a quick stop in your favourite newsagent. It never fails to brighten the day, especially with such rich pickings on offer.
And it makes me happier still to see that – far from contracting in the face of competition from apps or electronic devices – magazines and papers are going from strength-to-strength on the streets of Brazil.
Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.