ASR’s journey into publishing has a history similar to its other activities in that there was no point at which ASR made a decision to ‘become a publisher’. An involvement with action programmes and with training led to a realization that there was a dearth of training materials in Pakistan, and literally none that was either simply written, or written in Urdu. ASR’s response to this was to translate and to publish a number of training materials, research reports and other writing done by ASR itself.
Realizing that there was a dearth of training material in Pakistan, especially simply written material in Urdu, ASR began translating and publishing a number of training material, research reports and other writing done by ASR itself in both Urdu and English. The first initiative in this direction was to reprint an anthology of short stories by women, Nakoosh i Latif, which not only found a readership in feminist circles, but also in the retail trade.
Encouraged by this success ASR opened an avenue for creative and academic writers to get their works published. At the same time ASR sought to work towards encouraging Pakistanis to write and to publish in Pakistan, in order to increase the body of knowledge within the country and to expose the works of Pakistani writers living outside of Pakistan.
To make art more accessible and to bridge the gap between fiction, academia and art, ASR has used art works of women artists for its covers of its publications. Besides this, the work of feminist artists is also printed in the form of posters and cards for wider dissemination. At present ASR is one of the alternative feminist publishers in Pakistan, with a list of over 75 titles. ASR also tries to demystify writing and assists women to develop this form of expression. CBOs and grass roots groups regularly ask for free donations for their libraries and/or their work.
ASR is one of a few Feminist publishers in South Asia and certainly the only sustained and diverse one in Pakistan. As an alternative publisher, ASR provided space for those writers who would not normally find a publisher and published much of its own training material, research reports and other writings by ASR members itself.
ASR has paid special attention to the translation of material from English to Urdu and other regional languages for maximum understanding and dissemination at the grass root level. ASR has translated books/reports/research studies etc into and other regional languages. The aim is to make theoretical work and research findings more accessible. It ranges from Conceptual issues, Non-sexist poem and songs for children, a pamphlet “Some questions on Feminism and its relevance in South Asia ”, Women in Pakistan a New Era, Spinning a Yarn, Women and Handicrafts.
ASR also published feminist fiction and translations of feminist poetry and stories and also reprinted some work and negotiates rights with foreign publishers to make available less expensive editions for sale in Pakistan as well as selling rights to them. However, internal necessities here influence the decision to wind up the publication section with the exception of those in process. In future if material is needed then these will be in the form of booklets etc in national and regional languages and will be published and disseminated.