Saraiva is a leading publisher and bookseller in Brazil, offering a complete catalog of elementary and high school textbooks, readers, law books, business administration, economics, business literature, and accounting books, claiming a market share in Brazil of 15% in professional and technical books and 16% in textbooks. The group celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014.

The retail branch of Saraiva is the largest bookstore chain in Brazil, with 115 stores offering a product mix of books, CDs, DVDs, stationery, periodicals, and information technology. Saraiva operates one of the country’s largest online bookstores at, offering an even larger mix of products than its brick-and-mortar stores.

The publishing division of Saraiva also includes two learning systems: Ético, focused on private schools, and Agora, focused on public schools.

Saraiva was founded in 1914 by the Portuguese immigrant Joaquim Saraiva, who had previously worked in a bookstore in Oporto. In São Paulo, he developed ties with Brazilian law professors and students, and the company became been a leading publisher and bookseller for law books. In 2000, Saraiva launched its e-commerce platform. In 2007, Saraiva acquired the educational publisher Pigmento Editorial S.A. In 2008, it acquired Siciliano S.A., the second largest Brazilian bookstore chain.

Analysis & Key Developments


Despite a competitive environment and moderate economy, Saraiva registered another year of sales growth. Net revenues reached 2.26 billion BRL, an increase of 6.11% compared to the 2.14 billion BRL reported in the previous year. This was mainly due to an 11% increase in publishing gross revenue from the private market and sales growth in the retail store chain of 11% compared to 2013.

Revenue from publishing totaled 532 million BRL in 2014, an increase of 3% due to a 7% increase in sales from the law market and 7.2% increase from textbooks and workbooks for private primary education. The increase in sales in the private sector, both in higher and primary education, was partially offset by a decrease of 3.8% in gross sales of textbooks in physical media under the Textbook National Program (PNLD) 2015, which totaled 154 million BRL in 2014 compared to 160 million BRL in 2013. It is worth noting that the Federal Government did not purchase the digital content under PNLD 2015 that had been included in the bid requests for the program, which harmed the annual comparison.

Internal organization

The publishing business is being repositioned to participate even more in the education value chain, a move that reinforces the company’s strategy to invest in comprehensive education solutions for primary and higher education. In 2014, Saraiva concluded an important phase in the restructuring of the publishing business, during which the company mapped opportunities that will aggregate even more value for Saraiva’s education solutions. The investments required for executing the strategic plan will begin with pilot projects in 2015 through partnerships with schools; and continue with a more commercially aggressive structure in 2016.

Former CEO Michel Levy left the company in November 2014. He was replaced by Jorge Saraiva Neto, a member of controlling Saraiva family.


Saraiva has very little international activity, with the exception of its relationships with foreign vendors of service and goods. However, Michel Levy visited the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2014 and took part in the CEO Talk, which is part of the official Frankfurt program. It was the first time in several years that a top Saraiva executive visited the event.


In August 2014, at the same time that Amazon started to sell printed book in Brazil, Saraiva announced the launch of LEV, its portable e-reader produced by the French company Bookeen. The device includes a platform for browsing and purchasing digital books, leveraging the potential for generating value from the digital book titles offered by Saraiva, which has Brazil’s largest library of Portuguese-language digital content. The digital catalog contained more than 450,000 foreign-language titles, an increase of 9.2% from 4Q13, and 34,000 titles in Portuguese (up 57% compared to 4Q13) at the end of 2014.

Saraiva’s self-publishing platform Publique-se! reached the milestone of 2,000 books published in 2014.


In a country where the Federal Government is responsible for 25% of publishing revenue, it is no surprise that Saraiva’s bestsellers are those selected by the Ministry of Education’s programs.

In 2014, revenues from the PNLD for 2015 reached the amount of 154 million BRL. The contract was 11% smaller than the year before.

Saraiva ranked 13 in the PublishNews annual ranking of publishers, having launched 14 titles in the PublishNews bestsellers list last year. In its trade book division, the bestselling author is again Augusto Cury, whose Ansiedade: Como enfrentar o mal do século was the third-highest seller in Brazil in 2014. Cury’s sales performance has been successfully rejuvenated by Saraiva after the self-help writer lost ground in the bestseller charts with other publishers.

Earlier Developments


Consolidated net revenue reached 2.14 billion BRL in 2013, up 11% from the year before. Net revenue in the publishing division totaled 507 million BRL, up 8% in the yearly comparison, due to the strong PNLD contract for 2014. Net revenue in the retail division reached 1.69 billion BRL, an increase of 12% due to increased sales volume in the physical stores division that was driven by an increase in the number of stores and solid sales from e-commerce.

Consolidated EBITDA was 95 million BRL in 2013, compared to 182 million BRL in 2012. The decrease was due to extraordinary impairment provisions in the amount of 42 million BRL with no impact on cash and non-recurring expenses of approximately 14 million BRL related to the organizational restructuring, operational and M&A transactions advisory services. Other factors were reinforcement of the business teams and reduction in the gross margin. Adjusted EBITDA for these non-recurrent effects would have been 150 million BRL, a drop of 17%.

Internal organization

Saraiva made an important strategic step in 2013 by acquiring Editora Érica. The transaction marked the company’s entry into the market for content aimed at technicians and professionals, which strengthened diversification and increased Saraiva’s relevance in the Brazilian publishing market. In December 2013, Saraiva announced it had entered into a contract with Kroton Educacional to provide content to 22,992 students in 25 of its courses.

During 2013, Saraiva initiated a deep structural reorganization. The main results included the elimination of the independence that the publishing and bookseller divisions previously enjoyed. According to the company, this was done in order to strengthen Saraiva’s organizational structure and prepare it for the opportunities and challenges presented by the markets in which it operates. By November 2013, the independent structures were completely gone, and the former Microsoft CEO in Brazil, Michel Levy, assumed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the whole Saraiva Group.

Saraiva’s publishing division continued to act and see itself as a full educational company and not simply as an educational publisher, and its publishers focused more on becoming educational business developers.


Saraiva’s e-book store is the largerst in Brazil and a strong competitor with Amazon.

The publishing division has the largest e-book catalogue in Brazil with over 2,300 titles.

Saraiva launched Minha Biblioteca,an e-book cloud-based subscription platform, with three other Brazilian STM publishers. The independent company is mainly focused on selling licenses to universities.

Key points for analysis

It is important to highlight that while the retail division is more than three times bigger than the publishing division, the latter generates much higher margins. One big challenge for Saraiva currently is to improve the performance of its online retail operation as well as that of its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Another challenge for Saraiva is the transition from being a publishing company to being an educational one. The consolidation of its learning systems, Ético and Agora, as well the development of new educational business and platforms, being it K12 or university-level, are key to the future of the company.