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!
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!
I’m currently in the process of making new designs so more news about that soon hopefully.
Some of my zines are currently for sale at the radical bookshop Housmans (Same Heartbeats, From Spice Girls to Riot Grrrls) and the vegan co-op café Black Cat(Letter Soup – thanks to Active Distribution), both in London. Check out these places if you’re in London and want some great food and brainfood!
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.
Finally, another issue of Same Heartbeats has left the printers. #5 contains more writings on feminism, activism, craft and self-publishing. Like previous issues of Same Heartbeats, this 5th issue is printed on recycled paper, hand-tied with coloured yarn and filled with lots of drawings and artwork. It mixes DIY graphic art with political theory and some personal rants. Hoping to spread some sparkles of inspiration to do-it-yourself too, read this zine and make your own!
32 pages, A5 format, printed
Want a copy?
Pdf: 1 euro
* 1 copy = 2 euro + postage * 5 copies or more: 1,5 euro/copy + postage * 10 copies or more: 1 euro/copy + postage