Hit by declining profits, almost 40 per cent of Diwali anks — magazines with social themes published during Diwali — will remain off the markets this year, publishers claim. A dip in the economy and a declining trend in sales of anks over the past few years are dissuading many from bringing out the special editions, publishers say.
A Diwali ank (volume) carries literary and scholarly articles on issues ranging from food, fables, psychology, culture and medical interests. These volumes have been a favourite with Marathi readers and used to flood the market, at least a week before the festival. This time, at least 50-60 publishers of Diwali anks have refused to print their copies, publishers claim. From a total of 150 Diwali anks, the readers’ choice has been narrowed down to 90-100 anks this year.
“Majority of the anks survive on advertising revenue provided by banks, private companies or kirana stores. However, demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, accompanied by the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has reduced advertising revenue this year for publishers. Its major impact has been felt by the smaller houses publishing the Diwali anks, limiting sales to 1,000-5,000 copies,” said Sanna More, publisher of “Aapla Doctor (Our Doctor)”, a Diwali ank in the city.
According to publishers and writers contributing to anks, more than half of the copies printed did not sell last year. “After demonetisation, buyers found cash payment difficult. As a result, many copies failed to be sold. Many publishers had to bear losses. In addition to that, availing increased revenue from advertisers was a challenging task,” said Sudhir Suptankar, a popular writer on cultural issues, who has been contributing to Diwali anks for over 20 years now.
While new publishers with limited resources find it tough to sustain themselves, the oldest anks manage to remain strong on sales. However, Gargi, a 16-year-old Diwali ank, could not reach the markets this year due to heavy losses incurred last year, claims its publisher. “I have been incurring additional expenses and made no profit on publishing since last year. The printing cost has increased and I am bearing heavy losses. No benefit is received from the same as the sales of anks also remain limited. Last year, I reduced my copies to 3,000 from 5,000 sold five years ago,” Srinivas Shirsekar, publisher and editor of the Gargi ank, said.
Publishers of smaller anks said they do not get advertising revenue from larger sources who only approach established anks. Major banks, commercial units and small-time businesses have not given advertisements this year, they said. “Even the state delays advertisements, which in turn delays publishing of a few anks every year. The dip in readership prevents sale of copies,” said Vijay Sawant, a publisher of Maha Mumbai Jhunjhar publication and a member of Diwa — an organisation of established publishers and editors, which aims to offer publicity and support to upcoming publishers.
“We also need to revive our marketing techniques. Earlier, we experimented with a set technique that could help sell different types of anks at a lower cost to enable sales. However, new ways need to be sought out in order to retain the business of anks,” Saptunkar said.
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