“It may not be an easy welcome in the market if you are a beginner in publishing a Diwali Ank,” explains Sanna More, publisher of the ‘Aapla Doctor’ ank in Mumbai. Diwali ‘anks’ are Marathi-language Diwali magazines on different subjects brought out by various publishers, a sort of bumper issue with literary works and valued as collectibles. They have been a favorite with Marathi readers for decades.
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“You do not get the required financial help or support especially when you are new to the field. It is a challenge persuading established writers to write for you as the viewpoint with which a novice is looked at is different. Diwa (an organisation) helped me overcome the difficulties,” he said.
The oldest anks, several decades old now, manage to remain strong with easy sales and good marketing techniques, but it’s the new publishers of the Diwali Anks with limited resources who find it tough to sustain themselves in the beginning.
For 15 years now, Diwa — an organisation of 150 members comprising established publishers and editors of various Diwali publications — offers the required publicity and moral support to upcoming publishers to help them with their edition. By helping them source the required advertisers and attract publications of famous writers in their ank, Diwa tries giving them a ‘face’ among others.
“Our basic aim remains that each ank must get an equal display among others. Initially, new publishers face problems with getting advertisers or distributors. We help recommend the ank of new publishers to various groups and try putting out a good word for them,” said Shivajirav Dhuri, member of Diwa.
While Maharashtra boasts of being the sole state to publish more than 1,000 Diwali anks every year, not all of them manage to meet the same fate. Publishers of Diwa claim that as the reading culture in metros like Mumbai has changed over the years, not many read anks with the same interest they earlier did.
“The anks before would be read by people of all ages and thus publicising and distributing them was never a problem. With the reading habits of people having evolved, it becomes even more difficult for us to ensure most of the anks, especially of new publishers, get sold,” added Dhuri.
With an aim to increase the presence and circulation of more anks across, the publishers decided to come together for Diwa. “Before Diwa was established, all efforts were distributed and a newbie had to struggle to find his space in the market. We, publishers and editors with specific experience in the field, decided to come together and make a joint effort in revising the future of ank. Thus, collaborating with book depots, introducing selling gimmicks like free calendar with an ank were encouraged,” he added.
“Diwa gives a psychological support to publishers who want to bring their own ank but know nothing about it. They gave me a direction and supported my back when I did not know even have a penny in my pocket. While the sales of my publication are better, Diwa helped it evolve from scratch,” said More. Agrees Vijay Sawant, publisher of Maha Mumbai Jhunjhar publication, who struggled to sell a fortnightly magazine and then decided to start his own Diwali ank.
“Publishing a Diwali ank is more of a personal passion more than anything else. The Diwa group encourages your effort to bring one even though you may not be that established in the market. Through the annual events organised by them, publishers like us get a face,” added Sawant.
Over the years, the content of anks has also witnessed a revision. Instead of focusing on kadambaris and stories, theme-related stories on health and food cover the entire rung of anks published.
“Anks published before would bring out stories related to literature and ancient people, which involved creative writing. Today, it is more about utility and what readers will get out of the content published. Thus, themes like medicine, household chores forms the majority content,” said Sudhir Suptankar, a popular writer.
However, the passion of publishers to bring an ank has not changed. “Publishers face immense losses while bringing out a single ank. Not all copies get sold and publishers face losses in spending the kind of revenue incurred in making one ank. As against publishers who bring out anks to make money through ads, our final aim remains to get the right literature to our various readers in the market,” added Dhuri.