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Sell less to grow more

Sell less to grow more

Author: Ambreesh Mishra
Publication: India Today
Date: July 10, 2008
URL: http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&&issueid=62&id=11173&Itemid=1&page=in&latn=2

Introduction: Magzine printed on hand made paper stands old rules about the publishing business on its head

In a world driven by cut-throat competition, what does one make of a publication that wants to sell less? That is the claim being made by Sameera, a Bhopal-based niche magazine.

Yet, it is not as if the magazine is aiming for a diminishing readership. What it really wants is to develop the habit of sharing among people to help save the environment.

This unique approach to magazine circulation is guided by the fact that Sameera is perhaps the only magazine of its size in the country to be printed on handmade paper.

The Hindi monthly boasts of a modest circulation of 4,500 copies a month and discourages individual subscription, inviting groups to subscribe instead.

"If we cut down the use of paper, it saves trees," says its 50-year-old editor Meera Singh. The magazine is printed on an environment-friendly handmade paper that is processed from discarded cloth and fabric bits.

"Each tonne of normal paper that is not used saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water," she adds. Literary editor Mamata Tiwari adds, "Hopefully, our message has been imbibed by the readers."

The magazine was launched in August 2005, six months after chalking out the modalities of its production. No printer was ready to publish it because of the problems involved in printing on the specified paper.

Since handmade paper has a coarse surface, it absorbs a lot of ink. Besides, it comes in sheets and not in rolls. But Singh saw a ray of hope when a young printer, Azam, of an offset operating company agreed to take up the challenge.

Within months, they managed to find the right heat treatment for the paper and the magazine was ready for a roll-out. Six months after its first issue, Sameera was able to print its first four-colour cover-a remarkable achievement.

Besides publishing profiles of women personalities and articles on gender and environmental issues, the magazine's editorial staff works on detailed cost studies of its operations.

The editorial team is of the view that making handmade paper near the site of its use is even more environment-friendly, as it can save fuel worth Rs 1,800 per tonne.

"If the industry is promoted locally in every municipality, it can also generate employment," says Singh, who started her career as an environmental activist.

The initiative requires further encouragement from the Government as such operations need a large area for drying paper sheets in the open. Undeterred by such hurdles, the Sameera team has expansion plans.

Now that they have perfected the art of colour printing on handmade paper, plans are afoot to bring out children's story and pop-up books. The idea is to catch them young to spread the word on environment.

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