Last week East West, lifestyle magazine with a pan-Asian American focus, announced that it was planning to relaunch after nearly two years out of print. Surprisingly, the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, Anita Malik, said it was easier to find marketers who were interested in buying ads in the magazine now than it was when the pub first launched in 2004.
Malik spoke to FishbowlNY about that and explained East West‘s journey in and out of print, and how it’s getting back there again.
FishbowlNY: Why did you decide to stop the printing East West?
Anita Malik: We stopped printing in November 2007 when we started to see the signs of what was happening in the economy. We felt like it was a smart move to just stop for a minute before we got into serious trouble. We wanted to take a hiatus and figure things out, figure out what’s the best way to deliver content to our readers and what our readers wanted. Every market and every audience is different. We kept the Web site up but didn’t really update it, we just tracked traffic.
FBNY: Why did you decide to relaunch the magazine now?
AM: In June of this year, we started to put a real effort into putting new content on the Web. We’d done things here and there to see where the market was and tracked it in terms of traffic, but that was when we really started gearing up. We always had the goal of going back into print in mind, so it took until the end of July to figure out if that’s what we wanted. We did online surveys, which showed that our readers were interested in a print product. I had also found a private investor who really wanted to tackle print, and that combined with my own belief in print. Those three things made us want to relaunch in print. The October/November issue is set to hit newsstands on October 6.
FBNY: What are the differences between now and when you originally launched in 2004?
AM: When we launched in 2004 people had a hard time understanding how we were grouping all these people together, so to speak. People had only seen the Indian American magazines, Chinese American magazines, that kind of thing. The general public didn’t understand our pan-Asian American focus and marketers didn’t understand multicultural marketing. But, in general there has been a shift in our culture since then. There is a greater appreciation, more understanding and much more interest in what we are doing. Larger companies have approached us and have taken on multicultural marketing. Way back when, we were too ahead of our time, and now we’re not. This time around has had its own challenges, but it will definitely be easier because we’re an established brand and people know who we are.
FBNY: What were goals when you launched the magazine, and do you think you have met them?
AM: When I launched it my idea was really to create something that was for this market that would be accepted by the mainstream audience and wouldn’t be classified as an ethnic magazine and stuck in the bottom of the magazine rack. I wanted to raise the quality of the content so that it could be accepted by the mainstream, that’s why we took a pan-Asian approach. We really had a broad readership and we got on the newsstand in prime spots in womens’ sections. That is really important in this market, so I think we did succeed. People want to learn about this group, and they should. It’s huge and growing. I believe in the market so much and there’s nobody doing what we do. It was a good idea when we started but it’s a much better idea now, because of the culture shift and what’s been going on in the world.