FTD Editora: Educational Textbooks Publisher in Brazil

Antonio Luiz Rios da Silva gives an overview of FTD Editora, which is specialized in publishing educational textbooks. He also mentions some of FTD’s challenges, such as the importance of digitalization, and shares his growth strategy and vision for the future.

Interview with Antonio Luiz Rios da Silva, Superintendent Director at FTD Editora

Antonio Luiz Rios da Silva

How would you evaluate the educational textbooks publishing sector in Brazil?

The educational oriented publishing sector is already well established in Brazil and it can be considered a mature segment. This segment generates around 2 billion Reals, taking into consideration both the private and the public schools markets. This publishing sector has around 20 publishers, but it is currently dominated by the 5 biggest ones that hold 95% of the market share. This is a very traditional market and almost all foreign companies that entered the market bought traditional publishers.

In FTD we don’t speak about book production anymore; we speak about content production. This content can be produced and distributed in several ways: the traditional book (ink on paper) and pixel over screen, which is the digital world.


Could you talk a little bit about FTD?

FTD is a very traditional company that was pioneer in the publishing of educational books in Brazil.

French brothers founded the company and published the first book 112 years ago. This first book was an educational book about mathematics.

FTD is a consolidated brand due to the quality of its products, its tradition and the values it represents. The company works to serve well the consumers and work for education. Profit is not in the first place. Behind the company’s philosophy there are currently 1,200 people working: from the editorial team, to the graphic production (we print our own books), and to the commercial and support teams. Last year we were the biggest publishing supplier of the federal government (material for public schools), and on the private schools market, FTD and another publisher occupies the first place.

This is a very competitive sector. When foreign publisher entered the market, the sector gained a new dynamics with new ideas and investment. It also brought the digitalization challenge that introduces digital technology into the educational branch.

FTD is a traditional company that searches for contemporaneity by investing and trying to reinvent itself, so that it stays alive. That is the secret of long lasting companies.

Do you think that digitalization is positive?

I have no doubt that it is positive. Education is about teaching children to find themselves as individuals and citizens. The school tries to enrich its students with knowledge and values, and the children that are going to school are very used to the digital world. They learn a lot better and faster by watching videos or reading texts accompanied by something visual. Young people nowadays are much more visual than textual. Technology supplies an additional tool to teachers.

FTD Editora

It’s obvious there are many challenges that need to be overcome, not only in the infrastructure field (we need to invest a lot in technology in schools but need also to adapt the teachers).

What is FTD doing to adapt to this new reality?

That is a very good question! For two years now, FTD has been investing a lot in technology. In FTD we don’t speak about book production anymore; we speak about content production. This content can be produced and distributed in several ways: the traditional book (ink on paper) and pixel over screen, which is the digital world.

In the content creation processes, an area was created that is connected to the editorial process, so that part of the content can be translated into digital solutions complementary to that production line.

I believe in technology, but there is a transition process. At first, this transition process happens with the coexistence of the two worlds (the physical world and the digital world) and after some time, it will migrate into a completely digital solution. FTD has a team that is thinking about that and is already developing products – we released platforms oriented for the solution of the textbook and a platform oriented for the solution of the educational system.

About a week ago we started marketing digital books. Besides buying the physical book, young people can also buy the interactive book in our online store.

What are the biggest challenges for FTD?

Our biggest challenge is to adapt to this new reality. It is not an easy task, because it has to do with a culture (the way that people think something should be done). To change behaviors/culture is a slow and gradual process, but it cannot be too slow — otherwise we will lose the development train. FTD has been making an intense communication work to prepare people for this new reality.

When we talk about the development or evolution of a company, the first big challenge concerns people: we need to show that new reality to people to be able to change in a solid and permanent way.

We have the challenge to understand the new client. We need to understand what type of education will be available this century. The education tends to go through a path of individualization. Marketing one to one has already made that individualization available. In a pedagogic perspective, it has already been proved that people learn in different ways: when you put 35 people together in a classroom and each of these individuals learn in a different way, the educational mass solution causes disparities/gaps on pupils’ academic performance. Technology helps to individualize.

We have to make sure our company accompanies that development, and that is a very big challenge.

Which are FTD’s growth strategies?

FTD has a conservative attitude and strategy — as I already mentioned. FTD has been operating in the market for 112 years in an organic and consistent way. We look at the Brazilian market and to the development tendency of the educational market, and we can see many opportunities, not only in new niches, but also in the provision of services that can assist that future school. FTD has been preparing itself for that and believes that it is possible to offer solutions to other segments on the educational market and, with that, to continue growing in an important and relevant way for its long-term strategy.

However, we have been searching for partnerships. Those partnerships can strengthen the local growth strategy and get results in terms of international activities. We are looking for partnerships with European publishers that can lead us to act, for example, on the Latin America market with solutions (we already have) adapted to those countries.

Where would you like FTD to be in 2 years’ time?

For FTD I see a very promising future. We have an ongoing strategy that aims at keeping FTD on its track to attain its goal: we want to transform society by means of educational solutions that are connected to the future. That is the company’s purpose.

In 2 to 3 years, I hope we will materialize a great deal of that strategy in the form of products and services. With that, we hope to strengthen the relationship and partnership we have with our clients. I want to see a strong company and a company that is prepared for the future.

The quality of our content will be the success of our company and the reason why it will endure throughout time.

I hope that in 2 or 3 years FTD is ready to live that future.

What would be your message to a national or international investor that might want to enter the sector or create a partnership with FTD?

Brazil is a country that is going through many transformations and is developing and growing. There is no doubt that the main key for the growth and development of any nation is education. Education is the key driver that allows a country to develop.

There is an ocean of opportunities for those who are connected to the educational sector. There are opportunities in the segment of schools and educational systems. On the publishing segment, the association of good technology with quality content will be the key to success.


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