India's prestigious social sciences journal, Economic & Political Weekly, has got a new address in Mumbai. Popularly known as EPW, the magazine moved to its new office in lower Parel after operating out of rented premises in central Mumbai for over forty years.
"Finally, we have got a place of our own," said C Rammanohar Reddy, editor, EPW. The premises have been bought by Sameeksha Trust, the registered charitable organisation that publishes the magazine.
EPW managed to buy its own office thanks to mobilisation of funds recently. Reddy, who took over as editor EPW in 2004, said that together with the trustees, it was decided to increase the corpus of funds which was about Rs 2 crore in 2006.
"The corpus had not been expanded for a while and it was getting difficult to make ends meet," said Reddy. In 2006, he set a rough target of increasing the corpus from Rs 2 crore to Rs 15 crore in about four years.
Today, including the value of the new office, Sameeksha has a corpus of about Rs 8 crore. Part of the funds has come from one of the Tata trusts. "The trust gave us a grant for specific activities: hardware and software and for digitisation of the EPW archives," said Reddy.
Income from the expanded corpus will also be used to hire editorial staff, hike salaries and buy better paper for the magazine. "We are very keen to increase retail sales and paid subscriptions. The target is to increase circulation from the current 11,500 to 15,000, for a start. For that we may need the help of an external marketing agency," said Reddy.
What gives Reddy hope for growth is the fact that the magazine's paid circulation rose to 11,500 from 10,000 in the last one year. Clearly, the journal which was founded by Sachin Chadhuri in 1966, has not lost its magic touch. First published in 1949 as the Economic Weekly and since 1966 as Economic and Political Weekly, EPW has remained one of India's most influential journals among policy makers, researchers and academicians.
Within months of its launch in 1949, the veritable who's who of thinking Indians of independent were on its list of contributors. Among them were socialists like Asoka Mehta, JC Kumarappa and even young economists like Amartya Sen.
The magazine, known for its strong editorial stands, was often identified as a publication with a "social conscience." Edited by Krishna Raj between 1969 and, till his death in 2004, the journal is said to have started leading debates in economics, political, sociology and history.
Reddy said the magazine as well as the website has been redesigned recently. Registration for accessing material online is now "paid". "We increased the cover price from Rs 25 to Rs 35 last year. The website is now pay. We are clearly looking at generating funds to grow," said Reddy. EPW now has 1,000 paid online subscribers.
Though the magazine has not participated in a readership survey for a while, Reddy claimed that EPW has an average readership of 10 people per copy. "So some years ago, our readership was about a lakh," he pointed out. Nearly 50 per cent of its 11,500 copies go to libraries and other institutes.
Though the magazine's goodwill PSU advertising has dried up, it is still strong on appointment ads and financial results in the banking sector. "While we may be mobilising funds, the focus is to keep up its editorial quality," said Reddy.