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The great unspoken rules of etiquette for zine distros, are there any?

This is something that has been bugging me for a while, and this thread isn't meant to be me blowing my own organ about my own distro (oo-er).

In all the years I've been putting out Beat Motel I've punted out at least 100 copies (quarter of the print run) of each issue to distros around the world, and I've never had a penny back from them. I'm not accusing anyone of any evil deeds, and I'm fully aware that things move REALLY slow in zineworld (just as we like it), but what gives? I still really want to be stocked by distros but for my last issue I sent out fewer copies as I just can't afford to keep throwing my money away. Beat Motel tends to be an 80 page zine, which isn't cheap to post!

This bitch entirely excludes distros that I trade with, in fact I try and trade as much as I can now as I feel that's a lot fairer to both parties.

With my own distro I try to NEVER owe any money to any zinesters, I always either pay up front or trade with copies of my own zine. I've really bemused some zinesters by insisting on paying them before I've even received their zines. It's partly because keeping 'sale or return' records would be a fucking nightmare, but more that I can have a clear conciousness that I'm not ripping anyone off.

So, I guess I'm more trying to start a discussion here more than I am trying to find an answer.

Your thoughts please!

Tags: beat, distro, motel, off, rip

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Can definitely understand your method, it's more financially viable for the distro to do things that way and you seem like a business person who actually keeps track of things ;)


Sage said:
Regarding consignment:

I've had my distro for 4 1/2 years and there was a time where I was able to pay cash upfront
Yeah that is key - there's nothing wrong with doing it like that if you can keep on top of it. Personally I find it hard enough keeping on top of things for my one little zine, let alone trying to keep track of a bunch of other people's, but it sounds like you've got your head screwed on better for running a distro than I have!
I could never do it, that's fpr sure. I have enough trouble with the quarterly reports for my NEIS grant. (Govt thing).

Wes White said:
Yeah that is key - there's nothing wrong with doing it like that if you can keep on top of it. Personally I find it hard enough keeping on top of things for my one little zine, let alone trying to keep track of a bunch of other people's, but it sounds like you've got your head screwed on better for running a distro than I have!
I've been using OsCommerce which is a free webstore since I started, it also acts really well as a stock system, I love it!
Sounds good. We have a special program that we have to use. I'm not exactly a technophobe, but I am far better at drawing things than making numbers add up, I get distracted far too easily :P


Andrew Culture said:
I've been using OsCommerce which is a free webstore since I started, it also acts really well as a stock system, I love it!
I either pay zinesters wholesale upfront or distro trade/credit. I have done consignment but it's so messy if you don't manage the records and such. So I closed consignments ONLY to friends.
The Trees & Hills Comics Distro that I mainly run buys / trades up front. As you say, it's nicer & more fair, and simplifies the business. I've only just recently met other distro proprietors, and judging from the small sample I've been exposed to, this is how sensible, ethical distro proprietors conduct business. We also try to conduct business in person whenever possible, which is a little easier for us than for some because we have a regional focus.
etiquette isn't so much an issue as up front policies being posted somewhere accessible. i think each distro needs them and should adhere to them. just like galleries, distros provide a service. i have only distroed in three or four places, and only then do i continue to work with two of the distros (sweet candy and not sorry!). i keep working with sage (sweet candy) because she answers emails, is super sweet, and communicates. not sorry! orders much less often, but jenny is also communicative and always answers emails/questions if i have any. plus her reviews rock (though she does tend to go on hiatus a lot).

i have accepted up front wholesale pmts, pmts in distro credit, and consignment deals. my favorite is to be paid up front wholesale + postage, but for a lot of distros that isn't an option. i will do consignment only with distros i have heard very good things about, or that i have worked with as a buyer.

as i'm sure we all know, making money with zine sales isn't exactly easy. you're usually lucky to break even with postage and copies when it comes down to it, not to mention shipping supplies, etc. add into that that a distro usually takes anywhere from a 30-50 percent commission on a $2-$5 item and the only time mailing things sounds like a good idea is if a distro is willing to pick up 10-30 issues at a time.

i rarely ever solicit new distro contacts because the last time i did, i sent out a ton of zines and only received a few replies. i usually wait for them to come to me because they saw my zine somewhere or bought it themselves.

mention in this post:
http://www.myspace.com/sweetcandymailorder : sweet candy distro (all sorts of zines + merch)
http://www.notsorry.org/ (body image zines + merch)

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