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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 per cent 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.

Growing circulation and vegetables ()

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’.