on July 7th: “educate yourself about zine distros”
on July 19th: “zine distro appreciation day”
on July 23rd: “check out a zine distro you’ve never ordered from before”
*A distro is a DIY distribution project. They distribute zines (and/or music, patches, postcards, buttons, etc) made by other people so these DIY creations can reach a different or larger audience. Isn’t that great? Some distros sell their stuff at events (zine fests, punk shows, etc), a lot of them have an online shop, and some even a brick-and-mortar store!
I love these prompts – new zines! new zines! – and in the past years I have used them as an excuse to buy zines from American zine distros. The postage to Europe is so expensive and usually doubles the price, so I could’t do this often, but I allowed myself some luxury during International Zine Month. Now that the EU has introduced expensive and annoying VAT to pay on incoming mail from non-EU webshops I’m trying to focus my zine orders and trades inside the EU for a while (until I figure out how to avoid these fees…) but luckily there are zine distros everywhere, including in the EU.
There exist a lot of amazing zine distros and there might be some nearby where you live too. Here is a list of zine distros that I’ve heard of and that I encourage you to check out:
(If there are any distros that I didn’t include in the list, please mention them in the comments!)
Today’s International Zine Month prompt is about online zine shops so I’m going to present you mine even though I have been hesitant to start one up:
“Buy direct! Do you sell your zines online? Update your shop and post a link to it online so people can get your zines directly from you. Don’t have a zine? Buy directly from someone who posts a link to their shop.”
A while ago I wrote an article on this blog (and in my zine Same Heartbeats #15) about why I didn’t want to set up a webshop for my zines. In short, I prefer readers to email or message me directly to order my zines instead of paying extra fees to the likes of Etsy & co. I might also find it more stressful to keep up with orders (in case there would be a lot more traffic) and I enjoy the more personal and slightly slower element of emails and messages. No offense to anyone who does sell zines through Etsy or other webshops though, I do recognise its advantages and use them as a customer.
A little after I wrote that article, I made a Bandcamp page to share the music of my solo music project Lost Luna. And then I thought: “why not give this online zine shop thing a try?”. So now you can buy a few zine/postcard bundles in my Bandcamp shop! Not every individual zine though because I’ve made so many and because I don’t want to charge more for them to cover the extra fees but there are now options for people who prefer to buy zines this way.
So anyway, if you want to buy my zines, you can still email me but you can also check what I have available in my small but growing webshop…
I haven’t done one of these updates in a while but now there are a bunch of things I’d like to share. So this is a list of news and announcements about projects I’ve been involved in lately, going from zine readings, exhibitions, and virtual zine fests to illustrations, podcasts, and music.
Even though the pandemic and semi-lockdown are still going on, I’m lucky to find a lot of options to remain creative and do stuff from home. It’s what gets me through these days and puts a smile on my face (same in non-lockdown times actually – seems like my life hasn’t changed that much). Please stay safe & enjoy reading my Echo “newsletter”:
Last Saturday I visited the new Girls Go BOOM Clubhouse in Ghent (Belgium). Girls Go BOOM is a DIY collective who put up shows for female(fronted) bands and organise other feminist activities as well. They were offered a space at the Meubelfabriek, a huge building with lots of rooms that are going to be used by different organisations and projects including a bike repair shop, a community garden, and an anarchist boxing club! Saturday was the official opening of the Meubelfabriek during which all the residents could introduce themselves. Girls Go BOOM built a rehearsal space there and has a living room-like space with a library and distro. It looked really cool!
What struck me most was that there were zines EVERYWHERE in the Girls Go BOOM Clubhouse! So I had to take lots of pictures. 🙂 In the library you can read zines like Vinyldyke, Artificial Womb, and Ladyfuzz, and even zines by yours truly as well as books about feminism and women in rock. For the opening of the space, Girls Go BOOM organised a “zine jam”, meaning you could just come by and make a zine. I used this opportunity to draw for upcoming issues of Same Heartbeats (yeah, I’m working on two issues at the same time…).
I’m already curious for what kind of activities Girls Go BOOM will organise in their clubhouse in the future! For sure it’s amazing to have such a space for your own project and I’m sure they’ll make good use of it!
I was recently considering that opening an online shop such as on Etsy, Storenvy, or Bigcartel might get me more outreach and more sales. Because of course I’d like my zines to be found by people who might be interested in reading them and I enjoy connecting with more (potential) readers. So maybe such online shops and market places could help with this? Plenty of zinesters have their own online zine shops so there are probably a number of advantages to selling zines this way. This is what I could think of:
I assume it’s faster and easier for potential readers than mailing or messaging me to place an order?
Extra unexpected traffic and sales on marketplace shops such as Etsy where potential readers could just stumble upon my zines.
It looks more professional (although I don’t really care about this – I mean we’re talking DIY zines here, not magazines or books)
I heard there’s such a thing as “Etsy Team Zine” which sounds fun (but I don’t really know what it is)
UPDATE: Zinester Ryan Ewing pointed out that Etsy has a nice feature that readers can leave a review after they bought something.
But besides these advantages, I’m still hesitant. There are several reasons why I don’t use such shops (at least at the moment) and listing them here convinced me to keep things that way (at least for now):
I enjoy having some contact with the reader, even if very minimal. It’s just nice to receive a (more or less) personal mail or message instead of an automatic order. I’m not that overwhelmed with zine orders that I can’t respond to individual mails or facebook messages and I’m curious to know who my readers are. Also, I’m just oldschool and like receiving emails (almost as good as snail mail).
Online shops don’t offer the option of trading zines which is even better than selling zines. 🙂
I don’t have to give a part of my (very minimal) profits to a big corporation like Etsy and I don’t have to raise my zine prices just to be able to afford to be present on an online platform. (And I heard that for example Etsy keeps raising its prices and you have to pay them even if you don’t sell anything).
With each order I can calculate the REAL postage costs instead of general estimations that some online shops suggest. This means I don’t end up having to pay parts of the actual shipping cost AND the reader doesn’t end up paying too much.
I would have to register and make yet another account on some online platform…
So these are my thoughts at this moment, written from the perspective of myself as a zinesters/zine seller (it might be different – or not – when I think about these things as a zine reader/buyer). I’m sure other zinesters find Etsy & co extremely useful and don’t mind these disadvantages or deal with them in one way or another. I can imagine they must be even more pratical for zine distros. In the (near? far?) future I might look into using Bandcamp for selling stuff, as I already have some accounts on that platform for the bands I’m in (check out f.e. Lavender Witch!). But I also just enjoy making a catalogue/list of my zines on this blog or design flyers which list my available zines. Some zinesters even make paper catalogues (like Hadass)! There are many options!
So what’s your experience with and preference of selling zines online? If you run an online shop, can you recommend it, and if yes, why? Which platform do you use or have you built your shop from scratch? Or do you prefer to table at zine fests, have distros take care of your distribution, and/or sell your zines in brick-and-mortar shops instead and erase any traces of your zines on the internet? Do you have other ideas and strategies? I’m curious to hear your views and stories!
The final full week of International Zine Month (IZM) is kicking in! And today brings us another opportunity to place an order at a zine distro! IZM encourages us to:
“order zines from a different zine distro.”
I couldn’t resist and this time bought zines from Antiquated Future. They have a large online mailorder catalog full of zines, books, postcards, and more. I ordered a bunch of zines and the expansion pack of the “Best Game Ever (Because it is about Zines)”, a game I like to play a lot even if it means getting to destroy your opponents’ zines. 🙂
Earlier this month I ordered zines from Portland Button Works and their parcel has arrived in the meantime, hurray! As you can see on the left, it even includes the official International Zine Month poster, as the person who designs it runs Portland Button Works.
But if you’re short on cash or can’t afford to buy zines from a distro, don’t feel pressured. How about making a zine yourself and/or trading zines with zine friends or zine strangers instead? Zines (making and buying) should be accessible and affordable to everyone (that’s why I try to keep the price of my own zines very low) but unfortunately increasing shipping costs often double the cost… Booh, privatisation of postal services!
Yesterday I missed a day but it’s still International Zine Month so what was and is on the programme for the 19th and 20th?
July 19 – Send your zine to a distro for consideration in the distro
July 20 – Zine Shop Appreciation Day! Visit your local zine shop!
Well, there is a kind of zine shop called Riot in Ghent so I heard but I think it’s more an artist books shop with expensive designy publications so not really my thing. In Antwerp the bookshop De Groene Waterman sells feminist zines too (including some of mine) but that’s it for Belgium as far as I know.
The only (not online but real brick & mortar) shops where I’ve ever bought zines are in other countries:
I hope I didn’t forget any! Let me know if you know of other zine places in those cities as I try to travel there quite regularly.
I’d like to visit the Penfight shop in Manchester some day soon and hopefully one day Quimbys, Bluestockings, The Sticky Institute, and other zine shops in the US and Australia (when they invent a train-like alternative for airplanes because I hate flying).
So I’m going to skip the “zine shop visiting” activity and do the activity of yesterday today as I have more time now to prepare a parcel for a distro (or 2?). I already compiled a list of distros (and shops and libraries) where my zines are available but I would love to have my zines stocked in more distros. OK, let’s get on with it!
PS. If anyone knows of zine shops or other zine-related places in Freiburg or Basel, please let me know!
Today, July 7th is “Zine Distro Appreciation Day”! So it’s a perfect day to order zines from a zine distro to get yourself some reading materials for International Zine Month 2018.
Distros help distribute and sell zines and other DIY creations such as tapes, CDs, postcards… Often you can place an order online or sometimes you’ll see distros at punk shows or zine fairs.
I just ordered a bunch of zines from the online shop of Portland Buttons Works. Alex Wrekk who runs PBW also invented International Zine Month and made the logo and the poster that go with it. So it seemed appropriate! I rarely place orders at distros from other continents because the postage is so expensive but for this one time… 🙂 PBW has an excellent catalogue with plenty of zines, their own buttons/badges, and even a zine card game. Alex Wrekk also wrote and publishes the book Stolen Sharpie Revolution and she used to sing in the fantastic band The Copy Scams whose songs were all about zines!
My next “24 hour zine” is almost finished and printed… It was made during the 24 Hour Zine event co-organised by Girls Go BOOM at PLEK in Ghent. At the same time I’m slowly working on a mini-zine about self-care and a Brussels DIY tourist zine and I started writing down some ideas for Same Heartbeats #13…
News: De Groene Waterman in Antwerp and Het Fort van Sjakoo in Amsterdam are stocking my newest zines Same Heartbeats #10 and In Movement. Newer news: Toronto Zine Library has some of my zines in their collection thanks to the donation of Zippity Zinedra Update: 23/02/2018: 56a Infoshop in London and London College of Communication Library are stocking my zines, and Housmans and the Feminist Library in London have more of my zines now. Feminist bookshop Bluestockings in NYC also sells some of my zines now. Update: 05/09/2018: some of my zines are distributed by Vampire Sushi Vampire Hag distro. Update 03/11/2018: added Chocs et Ennui to the distros. Update 02/03/2019: added Zineklatsch Distro to the distros. Some of my zines are also now distributed in France by Thierry (distro has no name). Update 27/05/2019: added Specialist Subject to the shops. Update 27/08/2019: added LSE Library and University of Washington Libraries. Update 30/09/2021: added AVG-Carhif; Kartonnen Dozen, Fonds Suzan Daniel, and Nachladen. Update 17/03/2022: added La Pipette Noir.