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!)
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!
I’m doing two zine workshops in October – in Brussels on the 5th and in Namur on the 27th – and have lots of plans for a round table/workshop on alternative media, a zine tour, a new interview series, and an oracle card set. Read on to find out more…
I’d like to make a kind of DIY illustrated “Oracle card set” for encouraging creativity and/or activism though I’m not sure about the specific theme and design yet. Ideas and comments welcome!
I’ve been doing so many zine workshops lately but I’d like to focus more on talks or panel discussions as well, thinking about what zines can mean, their relations to other alternative media, their roles for feminist and queer activism… I was thinking about a panel or round table with various DIY media-makers including (feminist) zinesters, bloggers, writers, self-publishers, podcasters, etc talking about self-publishing and alternative media both theoretically and as skill-sharing? Anyone up for participating in this? (Maybe together with FEL?).
The idea of doing a “zine tour” has crossed my mind before but some day soon I’d really like to do it. Maybe I should start with one zine reading first? Anyone else interesting in joining me or helping organise stuff?
Finally, I’m thinking of interviewing some friends who were making (queer-feminist) zines or were otherwise active in the feminist DIY scene in the 2000s. Some may have moved on to other projects or occupations and some may still be doing similar stuff. I’m curious to find out what their memories of the 2000s are and what drives, occupies, and inspires them today. I think I might publish these interviews in Same Heartbeats #14 or maybe on this blog or in another separate zine, not sure yet.
Zine workshop at RoSa
Friday October 5th: 13:00 – 16:00
at the RoSa library in Brussels Workshop about zines and body image: how can zines offer an alternative for mainstream magazines and how can they become a feminist tool to fight beauty standards, share experiences in a safe space, and build a supportive community?
More info: facebook event
Zine Workshop at Chocs & Ennui
Saturday October 27th: 14:00 – 18:00
at Le Garach: rue Godard 25, in Namur
Creative workshop to learn how to make your own zine and discuss the radical potential of zine-making and self-publishing; in English.
More info: facebook event
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!
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.
On August 13th, I was tableing with my zines and with my friends of the feminist collective FEL at Ieperfest. This is a hardcore festival in Ieper that has been going for decades. Hc-punk music, yummy vegan food, anarchist/feminist books for sale, interesting talks and films, and a zine library, I was a happy bunny! FEL also did a talk about the future of feminism.
International Zine Month has officially started today! Hurray! It’s a good excuse to do some extra ziney stuff. There’s no calendar of suggested activities like the last few years, so I’ll just invent my own.
To start, I’m sending out some zines today to restock Artificial Womb distro, for a “zine santa” project, and for zine events taking place in the UK in July (Festival of the Perzine in London and Zines in the Suburbs in Milton Keys).
I intend to finish Same Heartbeats #10! And maybe do some things to celebrate its 10th anniversary, such as making special zine-related buttons. I already have some of those and I’ll post pictures soon.
And in August we just go on doing ziney stuff… because on August 20-21 a bunch of friends and I will organise another 24-hour zine challenge session – an event where participants make their own zine of 24 pages in 24 hours time – in Brussels. More details about the location and time soon. Start preparing mentally! 🙂
Last week, Jo and I went to Berlin for a few days… I love the city! There’s so much to discover, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored: The parks, little co-op shops, (former) squats, street-art, vegan places… But I won’t write an entire travel story here. Just mentioning some cool zine places that we visited (because it’s still International Zine Month):