The Advisor is back.
People in Phnom Penh during 2008 may remember a glossy arts and entertainment magazine called The Advisor, which could be seen in restaurants, bars and hotel lobbies among other places for a brief stint before, like so many other publications, the glossy A4-sized magazine went bust.
Three years later, upswings in business — and a modified business model — have given the mags original investors' confidence to re-enter the market. A new, scaled down version of The Advisor began weekly publication last month.
"For me, it was a re-launch of The Advisor that I launched on 2008," says Anthony Galloway, the magazine's original publisher who is perhaps better known for being the brains behind the Expat Advisory Services website.
Sipping a cold beer in the rooftop lounge at The Quay hotel, Galloway explains that the time just wasn't right to publish a glossy magazine in 2008.
The product was too expensive to produce and Cambodia just wasn't ready for that kind of product back then, he says. While it was tough for him to see his magazine go out of business, he wasn't about to give up on his idea of publishing a weekly publication.
"I've got ink in my veins," says Galloway, whose past includes stints at the Phnom Penh Post during the late 1990s — The Post was a fortnightly in those days — and a weekly newspaper in his native Australia.
And besides, print costs are down and he feels that the time is now right for The Advisor as Cambodia has undergone a lot of growth in the past few years.
While the global trend appears to amount to a gradual shift away from print newspapers and magazines in favor of online publications, Galloway says that Cambodia is very "print-centric".
The Advisor prints 3,000 copies every Thursday, down from 5,000 issues a week with the first version. While now only four pages, Galloway is optimistic that enough ads will get sold so that the page count will eventually increase to eight pages and then 16 pages before the end of 2012.
The purpose of The Advisor is to essentially lure more visitors to the Cambodian edition of the Expat Advisory Services, a website that provides a wide range of information about what's going on in Cambodia (there are EAS web pages for other countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere).
"This is just an extension: It's just another way to get the message out," Galloway explains.
Aside from stories, the publication also includes selected classified ads from Expat Advisory Services.
The new version of The Advisor looks a lot like a community newsletter rather than the glossy magazine format of its predecessor, and is much cheaper to produce.
There's another big difference about the sequel to the original publication: Galloway is not the sole proprietor. "I'm a minor shareholder-and I do not intend to be a major shareholder," Galloway stresses.
The new operation is essentially a collective. That is, the people who work there essentially all have a piece of the action. Brian Yule is the editor and Sweetie McPhalkkun handles advertising and distribution.
"I'm in love with it," says McPhalkkun, an affable charmer and former Phnom Pehn Post employee. "I don't like it-I'm in love with it."