a place for zinesters - writers and readers
Do you order from zine distros? Yes? No? Why? Why not?
Would you be sad to see distros go away?
I ask simply because I am getting a bit down about continuing to run a distro and wonder if they are necessary to keep zines thriving?
People seem to enjoy the distro, but lack of orders means a lack of funds to order new stock and so goes the cycle. I never wanted to be one of the ones to run a distro for a short time period and give up, but I am starting to see why it happens.
I don't order from distros half as much as I used to. Mainly this is because of my change in where I live/how much I work. But another big reason is I generally don't trust the quality of zines that many distros stock... my zine ordering definitely decreased after Learning to Leave a Paper Trail closed. Ciara was very good at quality control, and I never ordered a zine from her and was disappointed. This sounds pretty bitchy & more power to everyone who is being brave & putting their zines out there, but many distros seem to stock zines because they are made by their friends and maybe feeling like they have to stock them, despite them not actually being of a very high quality. In the end I was ordering packages and being disappointed: boring topics repeated over & over & lazy, generic layouts. Because of this I was reluctant to order from distros & preferred to buy from zine fairs, but again a lack of finances generally prevents this.
There's not a whole lot of options in my area to buy zines or go to zine fests (the best places to do both are easily over ninety miles away from where I live, and us zinesters in the area are all spread out). So, I usually get most of my zines online. I don't really feel very comfortable buying zines from blogs, honestly- not to disparage anyone who does in this thread, but I've had some less than satisfactory dealings with people in the past. Stranger Danger is a favorite of mine, and I've even ordered some zines from some of the people in this thread! (Nice meeting you guys in a less impersonal way! ^_-)
I guess it's because the novelty of zines has never grown old with me, but I honestly don't really mind poor quality if the zine has something else going for it- the stories make me laugh, or there's otherwise good information in them. Keep in mind that I'm the sort of person who will almost literally read anything just for the sheer joy of scanning my eyes across a sheet of paper, no matter how dense, inane, or boring- so what I just wrote has to be taken with a grain of salt. It's pretty rare to come across something in my area that is not either corporate or of poor quality, so I guess I take whatever I can get.
I do, and I agree that there should be a list somewhere of active distros. It's something I might think about doing actually, a little database with links and the type of zines the distro carries, a little info from the distro owner, etc?
I like to get a bunch of zines at once so I try to order from distros when I can, and have done for years. (I still miss Pander!)
As a Library, despite getting pretty regular submissions, I try to make a few orders a year through distros. I try to use several distros per order, and each order switch the distros so as to spread some love. I promote distros and other libraries on our blog through links (not a complete list, so send links my way!!!). I often have people ask where they can buy these zines that are in the collection, I direct them to distros-there's no place in town to buy them at the moment (so I've been tossing the distro idea around in my head for some time too). I think it's up to us who love the printed zine to be able to communicate and show WHY we love the printed zine. This is what's hard. There is a whole young generation that when they zines they fall in love, just like I did. In my community anyway, the younger generation isn't being told what a zine is. Most are as clueless as my parents were. Zine libraries have a huge chance to change this, to be seen in our community. After all If we aren't seen in our community, how will people know we're there? Internet representation alone is never enough (though it's helpful). Zines are empowering. Printed works can be seen as a compliment to online versions, full of stuff that just WON'T translate digitally. Distros are in a tough spot. I'd say keep it up if you can, promote where you can, but if all it's doing is draining you take a break. You aren't giving up on zines, just resting. Someone will always pick up the torch. :)
Jeff @ LVZL
I've run marching stars distro for just over 4 years now (birthday last week!) and the number of orders I've received has steadily risen, so I probably average at least one per day when I'm properly open now. The success might partly be due to location (UK) where there's only a handful of distros though.
Personally, prior to opening marching stars, I used to order from distros loads, but hardly have now. I pick up zines from distros at zine events, but I have crates of unread zines in my life and a seemingly endless supply for distro consideration so I don't really need any more... which is sad, because I'd like to be supporting other distros.
On the issue of distros all stocking the same thing, yes, that's true, but I don't worry about it too much, because as a UK distro I know that my stocking Brainscan or Doris does still make it easier for my customers to get a hold of them. Ordering individual zines for North America on etsy or whatever gets really expensive, really fast... so maybe that's my unique appeal and why marching stars is still really successful? (Virtually all my orders are from the UK)
i actually do most of my ordering from distros because unless someone sends their zine directly to me (pen pals or reciprocation of trade), i simply don't like the hassle of looking up each zine/ster and buying directly unless i really love their zine and they are not properly represented within the handful of distros that i order from (and/or i owe them a letter). laziness? maybe, but ever since discovering distros back in the early 90's, that's simply been my method of acquiring zines with a diverse number of perspectives, topics, people, etc. back then i was a teen and snail mail was the best option because of my financial restraints. and now it's easier to do through paypal (or whatever payment program people use).
i do (and recently have) order zines from individual zinesters, but find the convenience and choices of zine distros is the best way for me to get my zine fixes. i also buy at events or at the places in my area that stock zines. unfortunately, the place i sometimes buy zines from locally either has zines that i've already read, i'm not interested in, or they stock mostly from microcosm. so, that's a deal breaker right there.
up the distros!
Well, I hate to beat this issue to death, since I've probably written what I'm going to a billion times before, but what I don't get is, if the Internet-saavy youth order paper zines because they "like to hold them in their hand", what's so "luddite" and "old person" about somebody who'd like a paper distro catalog because THEY like to "hold them in THEIR hand"? Also, what's the harm in just providing a printable version option on-line. MAYBE, that WOULD increase the sales some distro owners are lamenting they're lacking.
I have really tried to click through on-line distros ON HIGH SPEED and I don't understand why I'm the only one who finds the process an unfun tedious drag. I also have doubts about how efficient it is. But I admit, everybody experiences things differently.
I was always under the impression that there was a big faction of the "zine community" who preferred and/or celebrated older technologies---8 tracks, vinyls, cassettes, typewriters---as actual, functional creativity and recreation tools. Have these just degenerated into trendy "cool tokens". If vinyls et al have validity in the zine scene---a legitimate place if only a small one---why not paper catalogs??? (and of course, apps for iPhones & Androids, whatever they are.)
We luddites (or maybe I'm the last one) aren't even asking anybody to physically cut, paste and update one----just provide on-line printable versions. If I'm not understanding something and this is hard/expensive/time-consuming to do, then I'd appreciate hearing about it.
I may gradually take a look at some of the distros and see if there's some way of cobbling together a quasi-printable version of some of them myself. Maybe there'll be a zine or two that looks like it might approach a modicum of original or critical thought and maybe I'll order it. But I don't want to work too hard at it.
(On average, it seems like the zines I order from reviews and trade with others are a bit cheaper than what I'm finding in most distros I've briefly looked at.)
Dan 10things said:
James, your relic of an age that's almost passed, as I am too. The kids these days don't want or need a print version. And I think for a distro to survive in the modern world, they really need to be geared toward younger generations and how they shop. Heck, if I were running Microcosm or another big zine distro, I'd be trying to make a zine app for iPhones and Androids for browsing and shopping.