Brazil book fair innovation contrasts with illiteracy struggle
In Brazil, a 55,000 m² book fair celebrates the written word for a week once a year by gathering the biggest publishing companies in the country and in Latin America. This year’s event, currently in Rio de Janeiro, launches 1,000 new titles, features 950 exhibitors and will attract an estimated 640,000 visitors.
This year, many exhibitors have put special focus on the digital side of books. Alongside the thousands of paper books, Kindles and iPads were also displayed in an attempt to stay in touch with the younger generation. There was also an interactive digital playground for children and adults alike, which was the biggest attraction of the fair’s digital innovations.
Always a great show of Brazilian and Latin American literature, the event is also a blatant example of the extreme social divisions in the country. Despite beautiful new books in the country’s market and new high tech ways of reading them, digital exclusion and illiteracy are still massive issues in Brazil.
People in parts of Brazil have never seen a computer or a website before. More shockingly the country has 14 million people who are unable to read or write.
Like every third world country, the contrast between the developed and underdeveloped areas are obvious. The contrast of having an interactive digital playground on one side of the country and absolutely no knowledge of such type of technology in another is something that will never cease to baffle me.
Of course, the book fair only ever travels to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, two very rich cities that are located in two of the most developed states of Brazil. Literature and culture must be celebrated, but the ultimate goal of the fair is to sell books. There is also the element of tradition; the fair was set up to go back and forth between the two cities 15 years ago. That’s not about to change – and it is really great for the people who get to see it.
It’s such a shame that a fair which praises books and information in so many ways doesn’t reach other states that probably need it more; books are wonderful and need to be opened by new people, people who have never been inspired by them before.Tagged in: book fair, Brazil
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