[VoxSpace Life] Paper Planes : The Indie Magazine Subscription Service For The New Age Reader

Commercialized Version Of Magazines

Glossies have always been a guilty pleasure for both men and women. Whether it’s to read the worst-dressed list of celebs or to get travel advice from backpackers, a magazine is so much more satisfying to pour over than the online version of it.  You know who you are, justifying the purchase of the month’s Vogue or Femina because you’re travelling or need escapist ‘light-reading’. Unless, of course, if it’s something like Outlook or Time Magazine. Then, it’s a whole different ballgame.

However, don’t you feel like you have to navigate through an obstacle course of product placements, paid promotions and advertisements to actually reach the content for which you paid the money for in the first place? Secondly, the voice of the magazines, whether its an architecture, fashion or a news magazine, is strange of a single dimensional Western popular voice. This sometimes leads to the burial of different narratives that are not as popular. Hence, it wouldn’t be out of place for me to say that its content just like most of the mainstream media, sells ideas and products, rather than telling stories.

Hence, there’s a visible shift of readers from traditional media to alternative mediums by those who recognize this. These mediums present narratives and stories the way they are without indulging in appeasement of vested interests. While a lot of indie websites have mushroomed worldwide, providing us with good-quality content, one can’t help but feel nostalgic for the traditional publications. What if I were to tell you that you can get good quality content with diverse narratives in magazines from around the world every month, delivered to your doorstep?

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Paper Planes To the Rescue

The Paper Planes Magazine Subscription Service addresses this dearth of valuable content by providing a steady stream of indie magazines on a monthly basis for a fee. They aim to “create a culture which appreciates and treasures an intelligent and soulful approach to print journalism.” They carefully curate eclectic titles from publications in Beirut, New York City, London and Berlin, with the intention of adding value to a readers’ life through the experience they provide. This collection also includes Indian indie publications like Motherland, the zine Gaysi among others.

Paper Planes
Image courtesy: YourStory

It aims to create an antidote to the mainstream, throwaway magazine reading culture and open up a real world beyond the commercial facade. Therefore, they do this as a subscription service. You can choose between three subscription plans- a rolling monthly for a  fee of Rs1,000 for 1 magazine, 9 months plan for Rs 8,500 for nine magazines and 18 months plan for Rs 17,000 for 18 magazines.

It caters to nine different genres ranging from design, food, travel, visual culture, lifestyle, fashion, popular culture, world affairs, arts and literature, and sports and recreation. You are asked to specify the genre of your choice in the subscription form according to which a different magazine belonging to that genre will be delivered to your doorstep every month.

For the adventurous kind, there’s another option called ‘Surprise Me’, in which you hand over the control to Paper Planes and a magazine of a different genre will be sent to you. You can view the catalogue of magazines on their website and buy a few online, as a trial.

How It Started

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Image courtesy: YourStory

Nupur Joshi-Thanks started this subscription service out of her own love for indie publications. She claims to have found the world of publishing on her sabbatical from work, that she spent travelling, and fell in love with it as she discovered more and more magazines. She was disheartened that the magazines that she fell in love with are not distributed in India and can only be accessed if they were shipped from the publications directly at a steep cost.

She figured that it would be more economical if these magazines were shipped in bulk directly from the publishers to her, and in this, she found an entrepreneurial opportunity. Putting her self-proclaimed “self-serving needs” at the forefront, she came up with a business model to promote the culture of indie magazines.

Nupur does admit that the cost of subscribing is high, but she says 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. Additionally, these magazines aren’t like the mass produced, cheaper versions of the magazines we are used to reading.

For example one of the magazines offered by Paper Planes, UK based The Gentlewomen, is a fashion magazine which celebrates modern women of style and purpose. Unlike its mainstream counterparts, it is not just a mere catalogue of faces and costumes; instead, it showcases real women in the real world wearing their personalities as a style statement – offering a fresh and intelligent perspective on fashion. Another magazine in their collection, The Outpost, offers a heartwarming and fresh narrative of the possibilities in the Arab world with stories and pictures of bravery, courage and hope.

This way, there’s still hope for storytelling in the world of publishing, for them to embrace true creativity and design in order to give its readers an experience that they can learn from and take away.

After all, why do glossies have to be guilty pleasures or ‘light-reading’, when it can be something that you can proudly display in your bookshelves?