a place for zinesters - writers and readers
I was super excited to be moving within easy walking distance of a FedEx Office/Kinko's next month, but I just went by to copy some zines yesterday and discovered that all their self-serve machines are now dual color and black & white. The separate pricing remains in effect, but I was really disappointed with how my black & white copies looked--the toner isn't crisp and dark at all, but more of a charcoal grey with a tiny halftone pattern to it. No matter how much I adjusted density, I couldn't get the black any blacker. Not sure if the switch has already happened in all the stores, or if they're rolling it out a little at a time.
So when I needed copies today I went to Office Depot's self-serve section, where they still use machines from the early nineties, which take FOREVER to start up and are extremely limited. I had to give my original and paper stock to the cashier because I needed a doubled image and neither the black & white nor the color machine could do that. I could take my stuff to my old university's copy shop or to the independently owned print shop downtown, but they don't have self-serve, so basically my options for printing my own zines are now limited to either decades-old technology or faded text and images.
Just a little nitpicky heads-up for those zinesters who like high contrast in their zines. Anyone else noticed this in your Kinko's?
I've noticed it in the more high traffic Kinko's in Dallas. Though, 30 minutes away in Ft. Worth it's still the same. My last resort for total blackness was coloring something with black sharpie, THEN copying it. It still looked sad. siiiigh.
Also, I've been noticing that lots of Kinko's don't keep their colored paper out anymore, and the general self service area is pretty sad. I don't know if thats happening everywhere, but its slowly happening over North Texas. :( :(
Yeah, the self-serve area no longer has paper cutters (before I move out of Tennessee they were starting to keep them behind the counter, and the only one in the front of the store was broken), and seemed generally poorly stocked with paperclips and rubber bands and such. A couple months back when my local Kinko's just started keeping the colored paper behind the counter, a staff member actually charged me for it--three cents a sheet, as I recall, which drove my price per page of a given zine up to twenty-one cents plus tax. Yeesh! But the last two times I've requested colored paper at the counter, they haven't tried to charge me. In the future I'll probably just bring my own stock.
It bums me out that the only place with relatively current technology and a self-serve area has completely stopped caring about us DIYers. I expect they make most of their money off big print jobs like banners, or binding business reports and such, and self-serve copies are probably a zero sum game at best. I can only assume that they'll phase it out completely in the not-too-distant future, and then what will we do?
Stop supporting corporate copy shops. The only reason to go to Kinkos is if you can't possibly go someplace else or you've figured out a way to scam free copies. Try to find and independent copy shop or printer. Or buy your own copy machine, they can be found for as little at a $1 at business and school auctions, it's old technology and lots of places are getting rid of them.
Like I said, the only two independent print shops in my town do not have self-serve machines. The last time I took any zine project to an independent printer was when I was making my cut-and-paste wedding invitations, and they completely botched half of them using paper I'd brought, then tried to charge me for their fuckups. I'm extremely particular about the appearance of my zines and I no longer trust anyone else to handle them, which leaves me with self-serve.
I got a used copier off Craigslist once, when I lived somewhere large enough to accommodate it. It was a broken piece of crap, and toner was hideously expensive. I still look for used copiers, but have yet to find any in usable condition for a reasonable price, and space is rather at a premium for me. So once again, I'm stuck with Kinko's, Staples, and Office Depot. And the ten-cents-per-side machine from the eighties inside the nearest grocery store, if I want to spend all day clearing jams.
This really makes me miss the cushy print shop job I had before I got laid off (and then fired for making zines).
A financially secure person (thats not me!) or a co-op could buy/lease a new or used 'digital duplicator', which is basically an electronic mimeograph machine. I don't reccomend Amazon for this. Get one from a local office machine dealer (big box office supply stores don't carry them) that can service them and have supplies. Unlike copiers, they rarely have mechanical problems. Check out the cheapest models. Some brand names are Risograph, Standard, Ricoh, etc. Because of their cheap operating costs, someone could start a cheap printing business and still be able to use them for zines.