8 QUESTIONS WITH NUPUR JOSHI-THANKS OF PAPER PLANES
WORDS BY BHAVIKA THAKKAR
As a kid, I was always fascinated by paper planes; the thought that I could fashion a plane out of a square piece of paper and make it fly across the room gave me the tingles. My heart soared along with the plane, and I repeatedly made it fly till it was bent out of shape. Then came the next square of paper and on it went. Few things bring such unadulterated joy to a grown-up, except maybe actually flying in a real plane to an unexplored destination and books: the smell of a new book, hearing the crisp turn of the page, watching the words come together to make a story. Pure bliss.
Imagine my delight then when I heard about Paper Planes, a website that offers subscription to indie magazines from the world over. Tingles all over again! I subscribed to the service in an instant, and as I now wait patiently for the stack of magazines to arrive at my doorstep, I interviewed the founder of Paper Planes, Nupur Joshi-Thanks, whose love for reading and belief that the breed of readers who pick up a real book are not dead yet led to the birth of Paper Planes.
TCS: How did the idea of Paper Planes come about?
NJT: Sabbaticals are known to have done wonders for people – I owe this steady descent into magazine madness to my sabbatical. I have always been fond of reading magazines – but I got introduced to this breed of print magazines while on a break from the world of M&A and private equity. I came across a review of an indie magazine online and, following up on the review, I eventually ended up ordering a few indie magazines. Once these magazines arrived at my doorstep, there was no looking back. I found myself placing orders for one magazine after another, fascinated with the passion driven content and high production value.
TCS: The name Paper Planes has a bit of childhood nostalgia attached to it. How did you decide on it?
NJT: Mostly because much of my magazine reading happened in-flight, and I wanted to convey the feeling of being high on paper.
TCS: The magazines on offer are not your everyday magazines. There's Filmme Fatales (a feminist film zine), Monocle (a global affairs/lifestyle magazine), and a whole eclectic range across genres. What is the thought behind the magazines that make it to the service?
NJT: Quality content and new ideas; of course, it’s important that these are independently published.
TCS: How does the subscription service work?
NJT: We invite subscribers to join us on our journey of discovering new and exciting indie magazines from across the world – one new title every month. One can indicate genres of their interest at the time of signing up. We curate the magazine titles depending on this choice; although you never know which title turns up at your doorstep, which adds to the fun. After all, what fun is discovery without a little bit of adventure? We currently have three different subscription plans – monthly, six months and 12 months.
In addition to the subscription service, we also have an online store where we regularly stock titles that are popular with our readers, and any one can buy it and one need not be a subscriber.
TCS: At a time when all reading has gone online and is available at the click of a button, to have a website that offers subscription to tangible magazines is almost a novelty. Do you think people still have the capacity for deferred gratification?
NJT: Enough people to keep this idea afloat. I just thought that reading anything good out there is a must – be it print or otherwise. It’s not like we expect people to just read print and nothing more. As long as there is good content, one must find a way to read it and that alone is the motivation of sharing these magazines.
TCS: Besides an online presence, you also have presence in certain lifestyle stores. Tell us more about that.
NJT: Yes, we partner with retail stores and creative spaces across major cities in India to reach a larger like-minded audience and introduce them to these fascinating titles. For instance, we are at all stores of Nappa Dori, Pepper House (Kochi), The Project Café (Ahmedabad). So far, we are in Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Kochi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and will soon be in Chennai.
TCS: You had a launch event for CEREAL magazine recently, and there's another in the pipeline for the launch of Gather Journal. What's the idea behind having a launch party?
NJT: We are keen to introduce new titles to our audience in India. The launch events allow us to showcase the magazines and what they offer to the audience. The titles that we are introducing via launch events are exclusively distributed in India by us.
With CEREAL, we got the opportunity to showcase the stunning photography, which the title is recognized for. We are now thrilled to be celebrating the release of Gather Journal. Gather is a recipe-driven food magazine dedicated to the many aspects of gathering: to dine, to drink, to harvest, and to cook. Winner of a James Beard Award and five Society of Publication Designers Gold Medals, this one is truly a hoarder’s fantasy-in-the-flesh!
The idea is simply for people to get to know the title better and come to see why we love it so much!
Considering we’re in a city that’s known for its food culture and is home to some of the best food critics/writers in the country, we thought it would be perfect to bring together people to share food anecdotes for an audience that truly appreciates it – much like the magazine itself, which is all about sharing food stories.
The aim of the session is to explore the sense of taste by tying it with nostalgia and the idea of story-telling. Using the space BARO is giving us, we hope to create an environment that is warm and intimate. Our guest speakers for the evening will share their stories – from food discoveries to memorable food tales. Speakers include Vikram Doctor, Kurush Dalal, Rohini Bajaj amongst others. This release is being organised in collaboration with Bombay Perfumery and will be hosted at BARO.
TCS: If you had to recommend three titles/zines to a first-time user, what would you recommend?
NJT: The Happy Reader; Weapons of Reason; Gather Journal
The City Story is media partner for the event.