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It’s Global Baby!

Like many other major cities in the world on Sunday, Sao Paolo’s main business and cultural thoroughfare, Avenida Paulista, was closed to vehicular traffic and replaced by the pedestrian kind.  It was a pleasant reprieve from the routine congestion in this mega-city of twelve million, the business center of Brazil, where travel within its confines can easily take two hours or more.

Today had a special vibe—it was warm and hazy but a slight breeze made it tolerable to stroll a few blocks in either direction.  Upscale street vendors plied their wares on the sidewalk while an exercise group gyrated to the beat of Brazilian hip-hop, the instructor leading the way from a raised platform while urging the fitness faithful to keep up.  The rhythmic beat drew a growing crowd including me.

But I wasn’t there to dance or gape.  Finally able to tear myself away from the loud, pulsating music, I made my way across the street to a series of stores enclosed by a modern building leading me to perhaps one of the largest bookstores in the city, if not the country—Livraria Cultura.  This was my second time to the store in the last several days—the first time I had met the Brazilian English-speaking cashier whose parents were from Nigeria.  He was happy to talk to me in English but explained the manager was unavailable as he was interviewing prospective cashiers.  It was a sprawling bookstore monitored by pleasant looking security guards.  Like a magnet, a section of English language books drew a steady stream of “[1]Paulistas.”  That bode well for me and what I was attempting to do—market an English language book in Brazil.  However, an assistant manager advised the manager was unavailable (yet again) but he would be happy to pass my business card on.  He scribbled the manager’s email address on a bookmark and excused himself.

After a half mile walk down the Avenue past museums, business buildings and the entrance to a small park, I was beginning to gently perspire.  I passed a small park and the striking statue of a local patriot who, with sleeves rolled up, seemed determined.  What he was determined to do I could not say.

I had now arrived at another bookstore—this one Martins Fontes Paulista, half as big as the first bookstore, but from a bookstore perspective, still impressive.  I was introduced to a young woman, Dani (Danielle) who tolerated my Portuguese greeting and seemed genuinely interested in my sales pitch.  She spoke English, “I really like your cover.”

“Then you’ll like this.”  I pointed to the back cover and showed her the actor, Martin Sheen’s glowing blurb.  She was impressed.

I explained Brazilians are one of the largest groups to make the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain deliberately referencing the Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, and his 1986 book, The Pilgrim which started a tidal wave of Brazilian pilgrims to Spain.  Dani nodded in agreement.

“Yes, we could carry your book…provided you are part of our distribution system.”

“Then it’s a deal?” I stuck out my hand.

“Yes, if you’re connected to our distribution system, it’s a deal,” Dani replied shaking my hand and exchanging contact information.

As I waited for a taxi, I mulled over the experience. Positive all the way around—I had accomplished my goal (a few days later Dani advised me she had ordered several of my books), a new business relationship with a wonderful Brazilian bookstore manager.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel, formally thank Dani by email and share the experience on social media.


  • Do your homework before attempting to market a book overseas.  I reserved time from my business trip to Brazil to visit three of the largest bookstores in Sao Paolo which carry English language books.
  • Know a few words in that country’s language.  I’ve made more than half a dozen trips to Brazil and had several Portuguese greetings in my language arsenal.
  • Tailor your sales pitch to relate to the buyer and his/her culture.  Trying to sell my book about the Camino by referencing a Brazilian novelist who wrote about the Camino was simply irresistible and went over well.
  • Be genuine.  People appreciate honesty.  I told Dani I was a new author and needed her help.  People will help you if they feel you’re being honest.  
  • Thank the people who take time out of their day to meet and/or talk with you.

[1] Residents of Sao Paolo


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