a place for zinesters - writers and readers
There is no problem with charging the cost of printing plus the cost of postage. Don't feel bad if you can't give yours away for free. Interestingly, I read recently (and I forget who wrote it), that people tend to assign more value to something that isn't free. They tend to appreciate something more if they had to pay for it, even if it was a buck or two. And I think that that can be true with zines. I don't know why that is, and perhaps I oughtta change the way my mind works, but I often (consciously or not) tend to think of the phrase, "you get what you pay for." If a zine is free, I tend to pay a little less attention to it.
A few years ago, I was at a zine fair with a table full of my zines, including the first issue of Fight Boredom. It was a dollar. The guy who was tabling across from me said, in an extremely sarcastic tone, "Oh, so it costs A DOLLAR to fight boredom??" and rolled his eyes, acted as if I was some sort of scam artist. I said, "Well, I just spent $50 on photocopies, and another $80 on bus fare to Toronto, so yes, I'm charging a dollar for my zine." Mind you, he was selling his books for $15-$20 and giving away free zines, which were so awful that I never made it past the first page. I recycled it as soon as I got home. He handed out free zines to anyone who passed his table, and there were a lot of stray copies at the end of the day. It seemed he, and the fest-goers placed absolutely no value on his writing (I use the term 'zine' loosely here anyway, they were mere reprints from his blog).
So yeah, charge a buck or two for your zines! It's normal to lose money on zines, but that doesn't mean you can't ask for a little bit of compensation.
P.S. I guess it's cool if you can afford to give your zines away for free, but I sure can't and I don't know too many people who can.