We Make Zines

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I was looking over Jack Cheiky's Syndicated Zine Reviews Blog Spot a few weeks ago, and it seemed like where before, there were plenty of physical addresses one could send cash to for zines, most or all of the more recent ones were only available on-line by ordering through "Etsy".

Now, I'm so internet-ignorant, I don't know much about Etsy other than that it's a supposedly smaller, friendlier, "more underground" equivalent to PayPal, which, I've read, has gotten quite a bad reputation, though many of the technicalities why, are probably too complicated for me to understand.

I tried to ask questions about Pay Pal at my bank. I didn't understand how any money I got through Pay Pal---I was doing a little E-Bay selling at the time---get's deposited in my bank account, and if it did, what charges were involved. They said it was none of their concern, they had no answers for me, and I'd have to ask Pay Pal about it. Well, I've tried contacting computer companies before, and it is no easy task to wind your way through the never-ending labyrinth of automated "help" sites and "phone menus" (if you're even lucky enough to FIND a phone number to call).

So, and I mean no rancour to anybody who uses Etsy as either a buyer or seller, I really prefer to order zines the old fashioned way, by sending greenbacks through the mail. I've done this for years and I don't think there's any great risk involved. Conceptually, it's just simpler for this old Neanderthal.

But what worried me when I was searching through SZR was that buying zines with cash through the mail is yet another good old custom of zine culture that's gradually being encroached upon by high-technology, UNINTENTIONALLY phased out. Now, I'm not saying anybody's doing this to be "mean" or "insensitive", or that it's a deliberate attempt to slam the door shut on us internet-challenged folks, but like with a lot of things, it FEELS to me like one of those gradual, almost unconscious ENCROACHMENTS on yet another aspect of zine culture. There are some of us who just aren't comfortable with things like Etsy and may have doubts about it. Maybe someday we'll "sign up" for Etsy, maybe we won't. But I'd be saddened if I, and others even less internet-capable than I am, were prevented from buying ever more zines, because they weren't on Etsy. Couldn't we keep BOTH ways open?

Please, anybody who sells zines through Etsy, don't take this as a personal attack. It's very possible I'm not understanding something. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, and if necessary, your corrections.

James N. Dawson

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James- here's the zine category
http://www.etsy.com/category_sub.php?tags=books_and_zines.zine
You click on "books and zines" on the front page, then click on "zines" to narrow it down (there's handbound notebooks etc in the bigger category)

Alternatively you can just type zine in the search box
There is some unrelated stuff like bookmarks jumbled in though
i am confused by people implying that it takes money to set up a paypal account. it doesn't. all you need is an e-mail address & a credit or debit card number.i've never had a credit card in my entire life, but debit cards that are associated with credit companies are standard issue now when you get a checking account with a bank. this wasn't somuch the case in 1992, but it's 2008 now. you just give paypal your info & you can start buying & selling through paypal. it costs nothing to establish an account, though you do have to provide your checking account information if you want to be able to draw on it as a source of money for paying for stuff through paypal, or if you want to be able to transfer your paypal balance into your checking account. it's all insured & stuff though. i've had paypal account for eight years & i've never had a problem.

for every transaction, paypal keeps 29 cents plus .029% of the amount of the transaction (i believe). it's a pain in the ass if you are working in regular quantities of a dollar or two at a time. receiving cash in the mail means that you are actually getting all the money that is coming to you, with no middleman. but cash sent in the mail DOES go missing sometimes, which doesn't happen with paypal--or, if there's a hitch with a paypal transaction, there's a record of it, so you can find missing money & figure out what happened. it's a question of priorities: do you care more about the security & safety of your transaction, or do you care more about not having fees taken out & having that old-fashioned connection with someone? i don't think there is a right or wrong answer here, it's just a matter of personal taste.

i will say that the overwhelming majority of distro orders i receive--probably at least 95% of them--come through paypal transactions. i do accept cash, checks, & money orders, & people occasionally send them, but it's pretty uncommon. i've also had several people send cash in the mail only to have it go missing. i've also had people send me checks that were delivered to the wrong address, or just never received. when i pay distro people, i tell them that mailing cash is my least preferred method of payment, but i'll do it if they really want me to. this is because of things going missing.

paypal also has nothing to do with etsy. i've been using paypal for years & have only looked at etsy like once in my whole life. they're two completely separate things. a lot of zinesters are now putting their zines up for sale on etsy, & many of those zinesters are jacking up prices in the process because etsy charges fees for listing stuff, & paypal takes fees from payments, so suddenly a $2 zine is a $3 zine so the zinester can acally get their $2 from it. this is why i have never listed my zines up on etsy (well, that, & plus i am not so enamored of my own talent that i think my zine necessarily qualifies as a handmade objet d'art or anything in the craft vein, just because it's photocopied or whatever). i think of etsy as being more useful to people who do crafty things that usually make more money anyway, because they are less affected by fees. but...whatever, i guess.

someone said that there is "usually a $4 mark-up on zines these days". i really hope (& actually believe) that this isn't true. i run a zine distro & the vast majority of zines i carry are still around two bucks. it's obvious when someone is marking their zine way the fuck up to cover paypal fees & etsy fees & to pay themselves aliving wage for their cut & paste troubles or whatever, & i don't order those zines. i mean, we could get into the whole "how much should someone charge for their zines" thing, which is another unresolveable debate that brings up questions of intent & personal values, but a $4 mark-up is far from the norm in the little corner of the zine world i live in.
Wow. Very interesting discussion going on here. I hope I´m not too late. I have no experience with paypal or etsy & it´s my guess that if I read a review of a zine that sounded really good, but at the end of the review I saw that the only way to purchase the zine was by paypal or etsy, I would just turn the page & look for another zine to order. That´s just me...

And living outside of the USA, I spend most of my time looking for zines that are available for trade. I´ve sent IRC´s on a few occasions. Once, the person didn´t respond so I sent a follow up postcard a couple of months later. Then, rather quickly, I received the zine without any sort of note attached. It gave me the impression the person was not happy about receiving this weird postal coupon thingy. Another time, the person sent me their zine, but also sent the IRC´s back to me?!?

I also send euros & American dollars (on the rare ocassion that I actually have some) in exchange for zines all over the world because I´m under the impression that most zinesters know other zinesters spread out all over the globe that can use these currencies. I live in Spain & it doesn´t bother me one bit getting foreign currency like British pounds, US or Canadian dollars, etc., because I can always find a home for them in some zine correspondent´s mailbox.

However, the best thing of all is GETTING TRADES! I know some people are not in a position financially to trade zines - like me - but it does seem to me to be the purest form of zinesterism. The "gift economy" of the zine & mail art communities definitely seems to be fading away...
I have an etsy page and my own website. When I make posts about a new issue or whatever I offer several ways to get it: Cash or money order sent in the mail, directly paypaling the money to my account, Etsy and my own website. I add a small fee to everything but cash. Cash is the cheaper price and I'm really surprised at how few people take that up. I guess the immediacy of the internet makes me want things faster.

As a side note, when I was younger I asked for a bunch of dollar bills for Christmas, which I got and scoured through Factsheet 5 stuffing bills in envelopes and shipping off orders for zines I wouldn't get for 6 months.... and I was happy about that!
James N. Dawson: "I was under the impression from trying to buy some IRC's at a couple different post offices that they'd been phased out. They did act like it was a big inconvenience to find them for me, and I'm pretty sure they said they weren't going to sell them anymore. A lot of overseas people specifically ask for dollars in ZW, so, while not dismissing those who don't like them, it doesn't seem to be that much of a problem for a lot of overseas zinesters. Are IRC's any more convenient or economical that plain old U.S. or Canadian dollars? "

I've just got a bunch of IRCs from a guy who lives in America. It's true I accept both cash and IRCs, but I just found out it's a waste of money, at least as far as US and Japan are concerned. I understand people in America pay $210 for one IRC, but I actually get the equivalent of less than $150 in stamps.

Lauren Arcade said: "I write a lot of zine reviews, and I know it's proper to write out the full address of the author at the end, but I usually go with an email or website if there is one listed. Because you never know if somebody is going to read that review in 2 years and send their money to an address that the zinester moved out of a year ago. Also, if the mailing address for a zine is misprinted or if you screw up just one of the letters or numbers, then you're out a couple bucks."

When I started buying zines, about ten years ago, I used to just send out cash and hope that both the postal service and the zinester would "behave." Most of the time it worked. Now, though, I usually prefer to contact people via e-mail first in order to arrange for a trade or payment (even because sending to Japan is not cheap). If I get no reply - and it happens quite frequently - I usually give up.
i kind of think that it is better to send cash/trade as you are bypassing a lot of crap. money orders (and it seems iinternational reply coupons) cost so much more than theyre worth so why bother? i make and read zines as an alternative to crap magazines, they are counter culture, i dont want to have to pay 25% to a corporation like paypal. ethically it totally contradicts the point of 'consuming' zines in the first place.

i dont know much about etsy but they do charge to sell stuff and i think a lot of the stuff on there is overpriced, i know a some of the stuff is crafted and the artist has spent a lot of time on the items but some stuff like zines which i've bought on there are often quite expensive for not actually that much content.
Funny this... didn't see this thread til today, and today got cash through the post for a zine for the first time in ages!

I always worry about the coins breaking through the envelope.
Also i think it makes a big difference what format your money is in.
People in the UK don't really send change through the post, because everything is coins up to a value of about $10, so you have to tape them to card and it makes the envelope heavy. It's different if you have small notes like dollar ones, those are easy to send.
Hmmm. This is making me consider accepting mail-money for my zines (I'm already open to trades of all kinds). Right now I'm only really selling through Etsy/Paypal because it's so easy.
Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee, which is kind of a lot when you consider the price of a typical zine. So yeah, Etsy stuff can be a little overpriced... which is why I'll try to throw in extras when people order my stuff.

rhagfyr said:
i dont know much about etsy but they do charge to sell stuff and i think a lot of the stuff on there is overpriced, i know a some of the stuff is crafted and the artist has spent a lot of time on the items but some stuff like zines which i've bought on there are often quite expensive for not actually that much content.
Speaking of Etsy... I'd really like to have someone who uses Etsy for their zines write about your experiences for an upcoming issue of Zine World. Contact me if you're game.

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