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April 4, 2016

A New Gust of Indie Zines: Paper Planes

by Anusha Narayanan

Nupur Joshi, an honest, cheerful, intelligent dame from Mumbai gave up the life of a corporate lawyer, to pursue her hobby/passion/now-her-job, an indie magazines’ platform Paper Planes. A voracious reader, and ‘a true piscean’, she had me impressed with her knowledge on editorials and magazines I should but don’t know.

So what is Paper Planes? “Paper Planes is an independent print magazine collective.”, says Nupur. What’s its purpose? “The idea behind Paper Planes is to introduce people to intelligent and purposeful independent print publications from India and across the world and its aim – to encourage a culture that appreciates reading as well as creating of narrative and passionate journalism.”

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Here’s our interview with Nupur Joshi, Founder at Paper Planes.

What is your business model?

Our core service is the surprise subscription service: people sign up and we deliver to them a new independent print magazine title every month. We also have an online store where we retail a curated list of individual copies of independent magazines and other interesting publications; this includes back issues of magazines that’ve been previously shared with subscribers as well some interesting zines in India.

In the last 1 year and 4-odd-months of our existence, we have shared almost 30 new beautiful publications from different parts of the world (Beirut to Berlin, New York to Riga) with our subscribers. The subscription model has another big advantage as titles come at a much discounted price; we are able to subsidise the cost to 50% off on the cover price of international zines.

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How has the platform been received so far?

I started off amidst a rubble of warnings of ‘print is dead’ etc. After a year or so of doing this, I am happy that we have carved out a niche for ourselves and are starting to find our audience. We have built a humble but rapidly growing community of magazine aficionados and are thrilled to be part of this evolving print culture. Our individual subscribers are varied, from bankers to designers, and spread out across the country from Puducherry to Delhi.

Our regularly updated online journal, which covers stories of latest publications, interviews with the editorial teams of the magazines etc. has been received quite well by our readers.

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What are your most popular categories?

Visual culture, travel, design and food. These are quite popular genres globally and given their popularity there are also plenty of publications that have come up to cater to this interest; food in particular. Some food publications such as the Gather Journal, which we retail on our online store as well, are of exceptional quality. Gather Journal, based out of Brooklyn is a true visual treat and of course content is equally deserving too. Also available on our store is another really popular food title ‘Lucky Peach’, globally recognised and loved.

What is your vision/bigger picture?

We are looking to make the best in independent magazine publishing available to readers in India. To this end, we are working towards growing our footprint rapidly across different cities and exploring retail opportunities.

We want to be wherever our readers are, in addition to growing our subscription base through participation in events etc. We are also looking to collaborate with interesting partners and collectively build a community that not only appreciates intelligent print but also knows how to put one together.

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Is there something you’d like to say to people who hope to start up in a similar space? Any word of advice?

It’s tough, no doubt, but if there was ever a best time to be a part of print publications, it’s now.

What drove you to start Paper Planes?

Dearth of good content and thoughtfully designed magazines in India and being tired of having to wait for a trip overseas or for a friend/relative acting as a magazine mule, to bring me my reading stash.

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What are you interests, passions, and peculiarities?

Apart from being a magazine fan, I am a true Piscean – I day dream magical holidays and start planning them at any given opportunity. I fancy food. Nat Geo Wild is the last thing I watch on TV everyday before I go to bed. I collect everything Muji has to offer – with a distinct weakness for stationery.

What keeps you going everyday, be it Paper Planes and other things you are actively involved in?

The opportunity to meet new and interesting people almost on a daily basis, that my work affords me – every now and then I meet someone who makes my resolve to continue to do what I do stronger. I cherish these meetings whether it’s a subscriber, retail partner or a publisher I am constantly learning from these people and absorbing their energies.

If not law, and not Paper Planes, what would you wish to do?

Become a naturalist.

You can also pick up a copy of Kyoorius Magazines at Paper Planes’ online store. More here. Also follow their blog for more interviews and reviews.

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