I am pleased to announce the official launch of “Thomas Nelson Brasil.” (“Brasil” is the Brazilian spelling.) This is the first phase in our global expansion initiative. We have also opened offices in Beijing and Mexico City, which will both launch their first titles later this year.
As you may know, Brazil is a vast country. It is the size of the continental U.S. with a population of 180 million people. Portuguese is the spoken language. Interestingly, because of Brazil’s large population, more people in South America speak Portuguese than Spanish. Brazil is also the only country in the world to have won the Football (Soccer) World Cup five times.
According to the official census, more than 30 million Brazilians are evangelical Christians. This number is growing at the rate of 5—6% per year. Brazil has the third largest evangelical population in the world, behind the U.S. and China.
Although there are more than fifty Christian publishers in Brazil, none of them have a substantial presence in the general market. While we want to sell our books in the Christian market, we also want to reach the general market. The only viable way to do this was by partnering with a general market publisher. Tod Shuttleworth, our Senior Vice President of Global Publishing, began an exhaustive review of prospective partners. Tod made several trips to Brazil. Tami Heim, Executive Vice President and Chief Publishing Officer, and Tom Harris, Vice President of Analysis also accompanied him.
After meeting with 20 general market and Christian publishers, we determined that Ediouro Publicações, one of Brazil’s leading book and magazine publishers, was our first choice. We were all impressed with their vision, distribution breadth, professionalism, and respect for our mission and values.
I personally visited Brazil last July, along with my wife and two of my daughters. I wanted to see this important market first-hand and spend time with Ediouro’s principals. I traveled to Ediouro’s corporate offices in Rio de Janiero to meet with Jorge Carneiro, Chief Executive Officer; Luiz Fernando Pedroso, Chief Operating Officer; and Carlo Carrenho, Publisher, Thomas Nelson Brasil.
I had met Jorge and Luiz in Nashville a few months before, but I wanted to get better acquainted. We had a wonderful time in Rio. We enjoyed a dinner together at Jorge’s sister’s home. The next morning, we took a tour of their offices. They made us feel very welcome and their enthusiasm was contagious. They felt like “family.” I am very proud to be associated with such gracious and caring professionals.
Carlo and his team have been working hard since last summer to get Thomas Nelson Brasil up and running. They plan to publish approximately forty-eight titles this year. Most of these will come from our roster of U.S. authors. However, they will also publish some Brazilian authors as well. In fact, we are hoping to publish several Brazilian authors in the U.S. We already have Dr. Augusto Cury, one of Brazil’s most famous authors, under contract and will be introducing him to the U.S. market in early 2008.
This month we are shipping our first books in Brazil. These include titles by Max Lucado, John Maxwell, Charles Stanley, Donald Miller, Don Colbert, Brian McLaren, and Hugh Hewitt. This week, we hosted launch events in São Paulo (18 million people) and Rio de Janeiro (12 million people) with major retailers and Brazilian media. We are running ads in all the major Brazilian newspapers and magazines as well as spots on the major radio stations. We even have an official Thomas Nelson Brasil Web site.
I am very excited about this venture. It is a giant step toward fulfilling our vision to see our books on every shelf, in every bookstore, in every part of the world.