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

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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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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