Mag Time: Sign Up For An Indie Publication Subscription Service

PaperplanesEDITSix months ago, we switched from buying hardcovers and paperbacks to reading them on a Kindle for the sake of convenience, savings (e-book are considerably cheaper), and our heaving shelves that were on the verge of falling apart. However, the money that we’ve saved up, we’re planning to put into new indie magazine subscription service Paper Planes, which offers an interesting range of periodicals that aren’t available on Kindle.

Helmed by Nupur Joshi Thanks, who chucked her job as a corporate lawyer to set it up, Paper Planes specialises in niche foreign publications that you’re unlikely to find in city bookstores and magazine stalls. Joshi Thanks, who has always been a keen reader and collector of specialised titles but found it too expensive a habit to sustain, set out to make these magazines more accessible for herself and fellow readers. It was at the 2014 edition of Facing Pages, a biennale for independent magazines, in Arnhem where she liaised with indie publishers and finalised her plans for Paper Planes.

Joshi Thanks imports titles from the UK, Europe, Lebanon and the US. She deals with publishers directly, because “distributors take a chunk out of what they’re making”, she said. However, she’s a rather unconventional stockist as she prefers not to repeat the same title in a year. Instead she negotiates a one-time consignment with the publishing houses (depending on the number of subscribers for that genre – she declined to disclose Paper Planes’s subscription numbers). “It’s a bootstrapped project so I don’t have the funds to get that kind of inventory required for a long-term subscription for any one magazine,” said Joshi Thanks.

Here’s how it works works: you pay a monthly fee of Rs1,000 for one magazine (or Rs8,550 for nine magazines over nine months). Their subscription form asks for your genre preferences – you can choose any nine from the following: design, food, travel, visual culture, lifestyle, fashion, popular culture, world affairs, arts and literature, and sports and recreation. Based on your selections, Joshi Thanks will send you a magazine corresponding to any one of your choices, but you won’t know which title you’re getting every month until you receive it. For the trusting sort there’s also a ‘surprise me’ option, which is the omakase menu of the service; here you leave the genre selection to Joshi Thanks, who ensures she sends this lot of subscribers an assorted mix of magazines through the year.

A thousand bucks a month may seem expensive, but Joshi Thanks said that if you had to import current issues of the same magazines, you’d be paying a lot more on account of the exchange rates plus shipping charges. For instance, Gather, the bi-annual American food magazine that she sent out last month, is priced at $19.99 per issue, which if you purchased directly from their online store, would set you back by another $25 for shipping. Other titles dispatched by Paper Planes over the last four months include Fat, a Finnish art magazine; The Gentlewoman, a British women’s style publication; a UK film publication called Little White Lies; and The Outpost, a bi-annual magazine from Beirut covering news in the Arab world.

Paper Planes also has an online store, where you’ll find special editions of certain publications (these are priced at MRP), such as Monocle magazine’s The Forecast issue and Little White Lies’s What I Love About Movies. Occasionally they stock back issues of magazines they’ve sent out in the past. “It’s a self-serving project,” said Joshi Thanks. “It feeds my appetite for tasteful mags while helping grow the base of the indie publishing community.”

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