Paper distributors pour their hearts out

Paper distributors pour their hearts out

A well-knit network of agents, vendors and home-to-home distributors have made it easy for newspapers to reach their destinations. Several vendors and agents for whom this work amounts to a passion, spoke to Deccan Herald about their views, opinions and memories.

Fifty years in the business

Known by his nickname of ‘Paper Jaani’, Janakiram is celebrating his 50th year as a newspaper distributor in Bangarpet.

At the beginning of his career, Deccan Herald cost 14 paisa. Prajavani 12 paisa and The Hindu cost 18 paisa, and his salary was Rs 10 per month. “But the times have changed now,” he said, “The price of the materials and newspapers has gone up and there is a lack of people who choose to work as newspaper distributors.”

Remembering the assasination of the-then prime minister Indira Gandhi,Janakiram explained that back then, details on the assasination could only be found in newspapers. Thousands thronged to public places like bus stops, to buy a copy, he remembered.

“When we ran out of prints, I had to run home, lock the doors and sell newspapers through the window. When I ran out of copies, people broke window panes,” he said.

According to Janakiram, events such as the opening of the BEML factory, the Gokak movement and the Kaivara literary movement, all drove up newspaper circulation in the ‘80s.

“Now the number of newspaper publishers have increased, but other methods of obtaining news have affected the business. Sadly, the number of newspaper distributors have declined considerably,” he said.

Dedicated distributer

Starting his career as newspaper agent 20 years ago with 5 newspaper, Subramanyam of Mulbagal has come a long way. Today, his agency distributes nearly 4,000 newspapers of all languages including those in Kannada, English, Telugu. Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam and Urdu.

By training a postman, Subramanyam began his newspaper agency as a hobby. Today it is his passion. “But family support is very important in this work,” he explained and added that his special technique was responsible for his success.

“One should know to associate magazines to particular newspapers and an agent should have knowledge of the number of newspapers to be sent to each area,” he said. “Work starts early in the morning, at 3.30 am.

By 8 am every newspaper is distributed. In case a newspaper deliverer does not appear for work, alternative arrangements should be made or the agent himself should take up the task of delivering the papers.”

He pointed out newspaper sales usually fell during national holidays or during festivals. “But otherwise, I have not incurred any loss in this job.

“In addition, personally collecting monthly bills minimizes the chances of making mistakes in accounting,” he added.

Proponent of reading

‘Paper’ Ismail of Srinivaspur is now 70 years old, but despite his poor health he continues to distribute newspapers everday. 

He first entered the business of newspaper distribution while in school and earned a living by being paid Rs 5 to Rs 6 a day. When he first started out in the profession, he did not limit himself to selling newspapers to homes but also sold them at bus stops and shandy markets.

In Srinivaspur, he is a well-known figure. Local residents instantly know him because of his passion for newspapers. During times of recession, when people hesitated to spend money on newspapers, Ismail personally visited homeowners and convinced them about the importance of reading and news and being up-to-date on the happenings of the community and the world. He continues this trend today by encouraging students to read newspapers.

On the matter of his personal life, he said that newspaper selling instilled discipline in his character as he had wake up at 4 am everyday — a practice which he has continued today. “Waking up early and making delivery to homes while on a bicycle has also made me healthy,” he said, with pride swelling up. “I am recognised in the taluk, which makes me content and happy.”

But his practise has not come without cost. A recent fall from his bicycle resulted in a partial loss in eyesight. But as he has no other means to provide for his family, he continues to sell newspapers.