A love letter to books – and by extension, to bookshops – has been written by Luiz Schwarz, the CEO of publisher Companhia das Letras in Brazil. In it he addresses the crisis facing the Brazilian book industry, a crisis that has seen the country’s two leading bookstore chains, Livraria Cultura and Saraiva, both file for bankruptcy.
In the letter, a blog post on the company’s website that went viral, he asks everyone – “publishers, booksellers and authors— to join together in the search for creative and idealistic solutions” to the problems besetting the Brazilian book industry. He urges people to learn from campaigns in the country’s recent election and to heed “the solidarity networks that formed”. He wants people to use “letters, Whatsapp messages, emails, social media posts and videos, produced with sincerity and an open heart, [to rally] around fellow bookworld stakeholders, especially its more fragile players”.
He wants people to seriously consider giving books as gifts this Christmas and writes: “For those of you who, like me, nurture a love of books as your very reason for being, I ask you to spread this call, urge others to buy books this holiday season; books by your favorite authors, and by new authors you’ve been meaning to explore. Buy them at those bookstores that are heroically riding this crisis out, honoring their commitments, but also at those that have fallen on hard times, and who need our help to muddle through.”
Many people have been posting pictures of their bookshelves on social media or recommending books in twitter posts. Marcus da Veiga Pereira, president of Brazil’s National Union of Book Publishers, has also launched a campaign on twitter, urging people to buy a book from a bookstore.
Schwarcz concludes his love letter to books: “Gifting books today is about more than supporting a cornerstone of society in the fight for a more just world, saving a small publishing house or some jobs at one of the larger firms. What it’s really about is extending a lifeline to bookstores nationwide and showing a little love for something that has given us so much for so long: the book.”