East West Founder Mulls Future

When we spoke with East West founder and editor-in-chief Anita Malik last year, she seemed excited about the prospect of relaunching her pan-Asian American magazine after a nearly two-year hiatus.

But now, five months later, Malik is telling a new story. In a series of posts on her blog, Glossy On The Outside, Malik has revealed that she is seriously questioning whether there is a future for East West. “From the start, beginning back to 2003, this magazine — whether it was online, then print and online, then hiatus, and then back to test the financial landscape — has defined my identity,” she wrote last week. “But with this latest test run, our emergence from hiatus to gauge the economy, I feel differently.”

She continued:

“My heart isn’t in it like it used to be. In good times and in bad, this is a hard industry. It requires 150 percent, and in the case of East West, even more of me. We are extremely small and this time around even leaner. How much can one person or even two do? At what cost — financially, mentally and emotionally? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself of late. Questions without definite answers.”

Malik is reaching out the magazine’s readers for their advice and thoughts on where East West should go. Should it go quarterly? Should it become online-only? Should it become reader-supported? Malik seems to be leaning towards scrapping the whole project or going the nonprofit route, writing yesterday, “We won’t go quarterly,” even though a majority of respondents to a poll said that’s what they would want.

We asked Malik to explain a little of what she’s going through right now. Her answers, after the jump.

Malik told us that the magazine was able to attract “a decent number of new subscribers,” and new ad accounts after the relaunch — Pepsi even signed on for a targeted ad for the Indian holiday of Diwali in October — but when advertisers told her they were holding off making buys for the new year, she started to worry.

“They hadn’t made their 2010 plans yet as of late December,” she told FishbowlNY via email, adding that some advertisers told her they wouldn’t be making ad buys until the second quarter of the year. “We came back as somewhat of a test and the renewed struggle up front to get things rolling again just didn’t sit with me. I felt overwhelmed this time around, like we had something to prove. I think I came at it this time with skepticism and fear unlike before. These things just make it harder.”

And although the relaunched East West has yet to turn a profit, Malik said it’s too early to expect that anyway. Still, all ten of her writers and the freelance designer she works with have been paid, she said.

Ultimately, Malik is still feeling things out, giving herself until next week to make a final decision. “Quarterly was my first inclination, it would give us breathing room, more time and less stretching of very limited resources,” she told us. “But will it change ad buying patterns? …Besides, in Day 6 I ruled out quarterly. I don’t think it really solves anything. I am feeling that a more dramatic shift is in order…a new model.”

As Malik faces the struggles that many independent publishers are dealing with (see: NEED) we’ll keep you updated about her ultimate decision.

Previously: 4 Questions For East West Editor-in-Chief Anita Malik