Digesting the indigestible digests and magazines!

Zubair Qureshi

Earlier, he sold newspapers only but now, besides newspapers, he sells what you call street literature —popular magazines and digests covering a wide range of subjects like health, stories, science, sports, religion, showbiz and cuisines. They also include magazines for children and women.
Kamal has been running the newspapers and magazines stall at a vantage point in the busy Peshawar Morr Market of G-9/4 for the last ten years. During these years, this young man has understood pretty well the tricks of the trade as well as likes and dislikes of his customers, especially of those living in the surroundings. Though a man of few words, yet his observation is keen and business acumen is sharp. It is perhaps due to this fact, today he has on his stall a large number and variety of magazines and digests catering to the taste of all age groups.
“People’s tastes are changing. It is partly because of the multitude of TV channels that air breaking news after every hour and partly because of the stereotype reports one finds daily in the several newspapers marking this stall,” curtly said Kamal while talking to Pakistan Observer here on Thursday.
But the situation was different a few years back. At that time daily in the morning he had a crowd of window-shoppers hovering around his stall waiting patiently for the arrival of papers.
No sooner did the newspapers come than his business started. People crowded the stall and for the next three hours he did not have time even to take his breakfast. It is sad that the number of newspapers is going up day by day but the number of readers is not in proportion to that upward trend, he said.
“Now, the sale of newspapers has declined and majority of my customers includes the ‘digest lovers,’” he said showing at the piles of digests, popular as well as unfamiliar. There were more than forty titles of different magazines and digests hanging at his stall.
When asked what according to him contributed to the record sale of digests, he said unlike newspapers, magazines gave them (the readers) temporary escape from what is going on here in Pakistan. “Masses are fed up with politics. Besides information, they want promise, pleasure and assurance. Newspapers provide none of the three. Everyday there are stories of suicide attacks, violence, corruption, Hajj scam, loadshedding, unemployment and political rifts. I have seen people going red with rage and giving Zulfiqar Mirza-like outbursts after reading some disturbing news,” he said.
“This is why digests and magazines are more in demand than newspaper,” he said. Suspense and Jasoosi digests were among the first-rank street literature that is in demand. Then comes Mystery Magazine, Sarguzasht, Aalmi Digest and others. Women especially the university and college going girls like Khawateen Digest, Shuaa, and Anchal. Household women liked Family Magazine, Akhbar-e-Jahan and some magazines on the regional and Asian cuisines.
Kamal said among children were popular Bachon Ki Duniya, Ta’leem-o-Tarbiyyat and Phool. Sports magazines, Akhbar-e-Watan and Cricketer were also popular with the youth. Elderly people liked to read Hamdard’s magazine Sehat (Health). There were also a few magazines on science namely Neutral and Global Science.

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