a place for zinesters - writers and readers
Being so new to the scene, I am listening to episodes of "Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine Podcast" and was a little surprised to hear a comment that some people feel that free or really cheap Zines aren't seen as having much value.
I guess I find this so surprising as, among the Zines that I picked up on the weekend, my favourites were 'You' (free) and 'How I Really Feel About Art School (50c).
How do others feel about free and cheap Zines?
For me, personally, the price has minimal effect. If I see a $10 zine I love, I'll get it. Free zines I almost always pick up. But, there is some truth about the price of a zine being perceived as relating the VALUE of the zine.
I used to do a free zine years ago, and I'd pass them out at concerts or what not, and at the end of the night there were always copies laying around on the floor/ground. When people have to pay, even 50c or $1, they take it more seriously. Fellow zinesters might give a free zine a good luck, but I'd say the general public will assume a free zine sucks. Get what ya pay for type of deal.
Billy Da Bunny said:
"and at the end of the night there were always copies laying around on the floor/ground. "
Ouch! That must have been a bit hard to take? I can definitely see your point about people valuing what they pay for - I think that applies in so many different areas - and I'm sure I'm seeing things through the rose coloured glasses of a newbie, but I am just blown away by the talent that people are willing to give away (or virtually give away)!
If a zine is free,its probably garbage.
I think the main problem is, if a zine is free, people will take it purely because of that. They may not have a genuine interest in the subject matter, or zines themselves. There's likely going to be some people that hear "free" and think "I better take advantage of that!" on impulse. Once they get the item and realize it does not interest them, however, it's easy to just throw it on the floor or leave it somewhere. Because hey, they're not losing anything in the process.
If people pay even a tiny bit for zines, then they are making a more conscious decision on some level. They have to at least ask themselves "Is this something I want to spend money on?"
People still make impulse buys on things they don't want, but the fact that they lose something in the process encourages them to think more discriminately about what is worth their time and what is not.
I wonder how people would judge value if money did not exist?
Um, I give most of my zines away for free, but I still feel that people think I make a good zine. The first thing I do when I make a new issue is mail them to as many infoshops and zine libraries as I can, because of the principle, which is art and information should be accessible to the public. I know charging would help me with photocopy costs and all that, but I would rather be broke then charge for doing what I love. I'm not saying its wrong to ask for money for zines, I do and I try, but I also think that it's a really amazing sharing experience to offer your work for free.
I give my zines out for free because although I put a lot of work into them, I still consider myself an amateur and I don't want to 'rip' people off.
As for other people, I have a large collection of free (or traded) zines which vary greatly in quality but I would say that 80% of them I would pay for.
I'm with you. If it's great content, wouldn't someone be jazzed they got it for free or cheap? Plus, zine pricing is so arbitrary. It's what the author decides, and let's face it, not all zines are worth spending money on. Just because someone puts a high price on it doesn't mean it's valuable content. I've seen some shat-out stuff with a $5 price tag on it just because they bound it with a bow. And I've for sure gotten plenty of zines for free that have gone into my "Favorites" pile. For me, it's about the content (written more than visual for me), not some magical message that is conveyed by the price someone threw on the cover.
I give away the first print run of my series zine for free for a variety of reasons. After the first print run, I sell it for $3 because I think that's a reasonable price for the quantity and quality of the content in the context of what the market will bear.
I think the concept of cognitive dissonance can explain this. It's like if you don't really like a zine you paid for, but you ascribe higher quality to it because, "I paid five bucks for this, and I'm no dummy. These words are golden indicators of the true meaning of life."
So often when I show people one of my zines, they assume I'm giving them a copy and they just stuff in their bags without even looking at it. Seeing that taught me that giving away zines for free devalues them.
However, I think 'free' zine trades, or giving zines to an info shop, gifts to people who will likely enjoy it, or reverse shoplifting them is a worthwhile way to give them away. It's more of a guarantee that people will find worth in it. Unlike getting free zines (stickers, cds, etc) a shows, where people are more likely to throw them away.