The Vitality of Book 2- An investigation into the state of the art – Sebastião Lacerda

THE VITALITY OF THE BOOK 2- An investigation into the state of the art

Interview with Editors

News Tale – Estadão

Continuing with the multidisciplinary interviews, we invited Editor Sebastiao Lacerda, who granted an interview to Conto de Notícia.

João Ubaldo Ribeiro, Jorge Amado and Sebastião Lacerda. (Photo selected from the Interviewee’s collection)

CN – Sebastião, considering that all estimates were that by the end of 2021 there would be some reaction in the economy and, today, we are facing an uncertain scenario with the induced paralysis of commerce, industry, and society as you have been seeing the impact of the crisis caused by the pandemic on the Brazilian publishing market?

SL Çcreating a more difficult situation for the whole country and for the book, of course…

Blog – What about fellow editors and the entire chain of bookstores, what kind of reports have you been getting?

SL- Exactly as pictured in the previous answer.

Blog- As one of the publishers with relevant international insertions, what have your contacts in the foreign market observed? What are the similarities and differences?

SL- I haven’t had contact with the foreign market for many years, because Nova Aguilar, being a publisher of books different from the common book, and based more heavily on classics and literature in Portuguese, didn’t have that need. And for many years I am no longer one publisher with relevant international insertions…

Blog- There are also few dissemination vehicles specialized in literature, and from now on, literary fairs and book biennials tend to be postponed again. Wouldn’t it be increasingly important to repackage the dissemination and recreate the tradition, for example, testimonies of writers on open TV, documentaries, and bring back the specialized sections in the major newspapers?

SL– Indeed, the years 2020 and 2021 were a time of destruction of many of the bonds already created and existing between the edition and its readers, such as supplements or book notebooks or even more generous sections in the press, but with a recovery, even if somewhat weak, everyone already has some point of resistance and the pandemic, if it gets worse, does not seem to be as strong and drastic as in the previous moment, which would leave the resistance margin of those involved with the book a little better and more equipped to crises than before.

Blog- From what you reported in previous interviews, was the readership already in the process of transformation, perhaps seeking another type of narrative? Could you tell us more about these new demands?

SL– Yes, certainly, the progress was very noticeable and remarkable….

Blog- Does the “recreational context” oppose the so-called high literature? Can they be complementary? Inter-excludable?

SL– Not every book with a “recreational context” seems to me necessarily harmful to anyone, nor does literature classifiable as “serious” have guaranteed access to the shelves of serious and persistent readers. With quality and commitment, everything seems possible and easy to live with. It does not seem to me that Stanislaw Ponte Preta, for example, is “serious literature”, but it has quality, so, in my view, the author has even become a classic, being republished more than forty years later and, it seems to me, with some success. Not much, perhaps, but how much sales success an already classic author can be.

Blog – What aspects will impact — or have already impacted — the publishing market when we put into perspective an inevitable acceleration of the digital revolution and its instruments, such as home office, webinars, digital reading? Does this necessarily mean a change in reading habits and book consumption? Can you imagine that such changes will be permanent?

SL– I think that the new technologies in the creation of books have already impacted the market with the enormous ease and much faster in the production of books, including in their creation, even at the time of their authorship. Or is it not true that current word processors give the writer greater speed? No more scribbling of bic pens, the text defrosts at a touch, opening itself to any desired alteration, that is, it should be possible to make a calculation that the average writer could do 20 pages a day and he now has the possibility of making at least 45… As I don’t know how to calculate these, the “kick” is more or less free, but it counts as an opinion…

Blog – Considers it an “almost unfair” competition: the passivity of light projection from smart TVs and high definition screens on us requires only a remote control, and a comfortable seat, while reading involves other mechanisms of perception and intellectual stimulation, and, of course, it mobilizes other resources.

SL– On the other hand, what you learn from reading an interesting book, fiction or non-fiction, a good television series would take about 50 years to teach… I think that doesn’t make it disloyal… Just different. It is very different.

Blog –Considering your extensive editorial experience and understanding the very particular, and unprecedented moment in recent history, would you like to present some suggestions for stimuli and incentives, not necessarily governmental, to increase the public’s interest in literary activities?

SL– The restoration of several processes of control of the Rouanet Law, which since the PT governments has been seen as an assault on public coffers, which may have happened and many times, but it never became a rule. And for that, the greatest possible democratization of enrollment and funding is certainly essential. There is already evidence, and international ones, that this type of support to book and publishing activity is very successful and a real booster rocket in the quantity and, above all, in the quality produced in the countries. This seems absolutely indisputable to me… Look at France and Sweden, for example. Not to mention that country to the North, so mentioned here…

Blog – How to sensitize financial agents to investments in other forms of distribution? In the case of points of sale, for example, follow the North American canons and sell books in pharmacies, department stores, in subway stations?

SL– Everything is possible. If the reader is interested, he can buy books anywhere. It just seems essential to me that first readers are trained in schools and universities, which would also make books much more sought after, making them need to be offered more, which is expensive…

Blog – As one of the most experienced editors in the country, what were your most unsatisfactory and most rewarding experiences in dealing directly with writers?

SL– Annoyances with authors I have had very few in my life, because I respect writers a lot, it is difficult to start and finish a book with a minimum of interest for any citizen, which is absolutely respectable, the effort must be recognized and taken into account in the personal relationship, in my opinion. The amount of friends and constant friends I’ve made in the 57 years of professional life is not big enough to fit here, but it fits right in my heart…

Blog – What messages would you leave for a budding writer? And for veteran writers?

SL – Start writing seriously and keep writing seriously…

Be committed and continue to be committed…

João Ubaldo Ribeiro handing over the originals of “Viva o povo brasileiro to Sebastião Lacerda (selected photo from the interviewee’s collection)

João Ubaldo Ribeiro delivering the originals of “Viva o povo brasileiro” to Sebastião Lacerda. (Photo selected from the interviewee’s collection)

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