Pune’s Diwali anks in limbo; Rs 10-cr biz scripts a ‘in the red’ storyline
There are at least 1,500 registered Diwali edition publishers with the Maharashtra government’s publicity department out of which 350 are commercial Diwali Ank regularly sold at bookshops and news standsUpdated: Sep 19, 2020, 16:36 IST
The 111-year-old tradition of publishing ‘Diwali ank’ (Diwali magazines), an important avenue for writers and readers, is reeling under the impact of Covid-19 situation.
The most awaited literary magazine that hits the stands and bookshops ten days before Diwali will see few magazines instead of the regular 1,500 anks (editions).
The oldest and most read Diwali Ank, “Sataayushi” will not be published this year, while the hard copies of several others may not be released.
Many young publishers, like Megha Shimpi, have decided not to bring out Diwali edition. For the past 12 years, Shimpi has been publishing Diwali magazine through Saur Publications.
“Eight people were depended on the profit that I got from advertisements and sale of magazine. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have changed everything — meeting people in person, and getting advertisements for the magazine have become difficult. The fund required to publish a full-fledged, magazine is around Rs2-3 lakh. I have decided to not publish my Diwali magazine this year for lack of financial support,” she said.
This year only 100 magazines will be published and on sale, but the dilemma for regular sellers is of how will the sale be?
“There are at least 1,500 registered Diwali edition publishers with the Maharashtra government’s publicity department out of which 350 are commercial Diwali Ank regularly sold at bookshops and newsstands. Only 100 publishing houses have confirmed of bringing out the Diwali editions this year,” said Chandrakant Shewale, vice-president, Diwali Ank Sampadak Association, popularly known as DIVA Prathisthan.
“Readership has decreased over the past three years and the coronavirus pandemic has almost brought the Diwali Ank publication to a standstill,” he said.
Poonam Agency, the oldest book agency that is running for the past 61 years, is calling publications to confirm the number of Diwali anks to be published. Srikant Bhutada of Poonam Agency said, “There will be only 50 per cent of Diwali ank published and we are facing major losses. This is the second time that the business of these special magazine is affected. The demonetisation in 2016 saw our business profit drop by 25%. This business works only for a month and earns around Rs8 to Rs10 crore.”
Rohan Champanerkar, publisher, Rohan Prakashan, said, “This special literary magazine is one of the most sought after magazine which is published specially for Diwali and its readership mostly consist of senior citizens or people over 45 years of age. The advent of smartphones and English readers have kept the youth away from this precious gift penned by Marathi writers.”
Vandana Bokil Kulkarni began their Diwali edition in 2015 and she still hasn’t been able to break even. “Although we do not look at profits, we try to bring in enough money through advertisements to sustain the Diwali ank. While we have decided to bring out an edition this year, we are in a wait and watch situation because of the pandemic. We will keep the content ready and wait until October 15 to decide whether to print or release it online,” said Vandana.
Sujata Deshmukh, editor of well-known Diwali Ank Maher, is still contemplating over the publishing. “We have begun our work of putting the content together and awaiting a nod from printers. The question is how to send the magazine across the state when postal services are refusing to begin delivery services of magazines, as only emergency and money orders are on at the moment.”
“Diwali ank is a movement in terms of literary world and this pandemic has stalled the tradition. We are facing a dilemma of how to sell the magazine on stalls, when senior citizens who are our buyers cannot come to the shop nor are they literate enough for e-books or buying them online. So, this year, the Diwali ank is in limbo,” said Ramesh Rathivdekar, owner, Akshardhara bookstore in Pune.