Manorama Weekly’s 30% growth during lockdown

Growing circulation – and vegetables

Manorama Weekly published during the Covid-19 lockdown
Manorama Weekly published during the Covid-19 lockdown Photo: FIPP

Piet van Niekerk in FIPP

Anyone trying to start their own vegetable garden during the Covid-19 lockdown and experienced how tough it is to find home-delivered vegetable seeds will wish they were subscribers to India’s Manorama Weekly magazine. Subscribers get their seed packets glued to the magazine.

Manorama Weekly, a family entertainment magazine published in the Malayalam language, has seen a record increase in copy sales during India’s Covid-19 lockdown. Although publishers worldwide have seen a spike in interest for content from respected and trusted brands during this time, editor-in-charge, K. A. Francis, believes the 30% increase in circulation can also partly be attributed to the free vegetable seeds that now come with each copy.

The Manorama weekly, published by the Malayala Manorama Group in India since 1937, joined hands with the Government in the State of Kerala to arrange seeds for thousands of people who are locked in their homes.

Covermounts, the practice of sticking free products to magazine covers, are nothing new to the publishing industry. In the 1960s, the fortnightly satirical magazine Private Eye started to stick 7″ floppy audio vinyl recording (known at the time as “flexi-discs”) to the front of their magazine. The practice continued with computer magazines in the early era of home computers with storage media containing software and/or games distributed with their magazines. The distribution of vegetable seeds with magazines is, however, unheard of.

Almost all of the magazine’s staff spend hours post publication to glue the seed packets to the magazines. Since the practice started in March, the circulation of the weekly, printed in the city of Kottayam, increased from 190,000 to 247,000 copies.

Applying seed pouches on the cover manually at Manorama Weekly
Applying seed pouches on the cover manually at Manorama Weekly

Francis said more than 200,000 of the Manorama Weekly readers are actively engaged in farming at their homes. “With this initiative being a huge success among our audience we are planning to collaborate with the state government to come up with more sustainable ideas.”

R Rajmohan, FIPP member and President of the Association of Indian Magazines, said this initiative is a perfect example of how magazines can engage more and connect more with audiences, even in these difficult times of Covid-19.

Last year, the magazine had won a Silver award at the Print Innovation Awards, instituted by the World Printers Forum, the print community of WAN-IFRA, in the category of Business Innovation for the project ‘QR Code and Mini Agriculture Farming.’

Written by Piet van Niekerk in FIPP: The Network for Global Media
This story is republished with permission from

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

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  1. I subscribed for Manorama Magazine hoping to get vegetable seeds attached with the magazine but I find that it was not available in the subscription dtd 25-07-20.Have you stopped the idea of distributing the seeds.Kindly let me know.


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