We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

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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i still get cash in the mail and i absolutely love it! it helps pay tolls ect. i think it's good to give people multiple options-cash, trade, paypal ect...i haven't used esty yet. paypal does take money out which stinks but it's convenient and most peeps that sell zines aren't doing it for the money so the 38 cents or whatever an issue isn't really noticeable (at least for me). most of the people that pay cash for my zines are younger people, usually under 18, who don't have debit cards and bank accounts yet...
I love the physicality of zines, as well as the zine experience: making them, receiving them, reading them. So I tend to prefer sending money through the mail (usually stamped with my Where Is George? stamp) with a handwritten or typewritten letter. If someone just offers an email or URL, I somehow find their project less interesting, because there's no there there... and sometimes, someone responds to a physical mail with an email, which is oddly disconcerting. Communication should inspire like communication, perhaps.

Sometimes, PayPal is useful for buying a zine, especially if the sum is higher. I find this true for online distros and the rare single-issue case... and I think Etsy, while I don't use it, is interesting as an aggregator of zines from multiple maker, much like a distro or eBay is for other items and products.

But if someone only allows online communication and payment -- but makes a physical zine -- there's a dissonance there. Not sure what it means, though!
yeah i agree with the above post about if someone allows only online communication and payment, but makes a physical zine there is dissonance there...one of the points (in my opinion) of making a zine, especially in today's society where blogging and putting yourself out there on social sites like myspace is so prevalent, is the human connection you get through sending your zine out and receiving mail in return...so not accepting cash in the mail or trades kind of cuts off part of the human connection that comes through being part of the zine world.
hi, fan of sending paper letters + stamps + dollars in the mail = zines, right here! yep.
JND etal...
i will not - would not - buy through 'etsy'
the zine-world is not a JOB...it is joy &
passion & an avenue of self-development.

i ed/pub-ed a poetry zine for 10 years
- 130 issues - investing a thou/year of
my own $$, and happily so...and so, got
400 poets and over 4,000 of their poems
into print.

i often include a $1.00 in a request for
someone's zine...but it is really to help
w/ postage.

the GREATER problem w/ zines is that
they will soon be MORE electronic than
hardcopy...THAT is a real sadness and
one that zine eds/pubs should work
against.

zine-making is not a living...not even a
job of work...if one makes zines w/
$ signs or pulitzers in mind...please go do
something else...volunteer to teach folks
in your local city jail how to read...volunteer
in hospitals, senior-care homes, the salvation army,
animal shelters (ANIMAL SHELTERS!!) and
40,000 other forms of volunteerism in the
world...

but don't pretend to be a maker of zines

tim scannell
port angeles, wa
Thanks everybody for the further replies. I hope I'm not gaining a reputations as the big old mean old anti-Etsy (and anti-Net) ogre. Etsy's find, but I just thing it the spirit of inclusion, that I hope the zine community generally embraces, there will always be a physical address & cash payment option for any and all zines (or at least the vast majority). Maybe I'll try buying a few zines on Etsy just to see how easy or confusing it was, and so I can discuss the issue with some personal experience behind me.

HEATH: When I do my initial mailing I always feel like I should have personal notes in many of them, but frankly, that stage, I'm sort of zombified and I'd just rather stuff the things in an envelope and drop 'em in the mail slot. I tend to be lazy about personal notes. I do manage to write one pretty often, but they're usually they're very minimal.

One thing about e-mails I have is that it's hard to stuff in extras, which again, I do in paper-mail, just to make a short letter or note a little more interesting. I do the same when sending cash---little 1 to 4 page freebies. I'm not aware you can do that with Etsy or PayPal, but then there's a lot I don't know about the Net.

I've tried sending attachments with my e-mails, but that's turned out to be a tiring rigmarole. That, again, be due to my lack of Net skills.

TIM & KELLY: I'm opening up a big issue here which I always hesitate to do. I'm a libertarian, so I don't have anything in principle against anyone trying to make profit of self-publishing. I wouldn't apologize if I made a net profit on my zines----though it'll never happen and happily accept that. I will agree that you do lose a huge amount in quality when you try to make a profit because your tailoring your content to a mass audience. That doesn't mean you're necessarily turning it in to Reader's Digest, but you are subtly "homogenizing" even if it's supposedly a punk death metal zine. You have to to attract a sufficient "clientele" to achieve and maintain that profit. Anything TOO wierd, or TOO radical, even anything TOO thoughtful would be rejected by your target audience or their parents.

Anyway, I wonder if there are any profitable zines out there. I know Bert & Holly Davis don't have a lot of discretionary income to waste, being vonuans, so maybe their very home-made longrunning zine DOES turn a small profit. I don't know.

I'm at the library and times running out so I'd better send this before it gets wiped out! No time to edit. Hope it's okay!

James N. Dawson

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