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How do you make your zine fest display look nice?

Hey everybody. I've been doing more zine fests and craft fairs recently, and I have a few coming up soon. I'd appreciate hearing about what you all have done to display your zines and books. I always just lay the zines flat in stacks, and that looks just fine of course, but it would be nice to mix it up a bit. People who sell crafty wares always seem to have such creative displays, and then I feel like my table looks sort of limp and sad by comparison. I don't feel it makes much sense for me to buy commercial display racks and stuff, but there must be something I can make or repurpose. Can anyone help?

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Yeah, I've got an issue of my zine about the time I spent in Budapest. On mail order it gets ordered no more or less than any other issue, but it's the first one people go for at a fair. I guess they like the vintagey flower looking cover.


ciaraxyerra said:
oooh, thanks, katie! it's so nice to get positive feedback about my distro tables. it's true that a lot of zinesters that are just tabling their own stuff have really gorgeous displays & sometimes i feel jealous that, as a distro, i just have too much stuff to do anything really stylized. i definitely enjoy looking at tables that have beautified themselves & the idea of little descriptions for the zines is a good one. but with like 150 items in the distro catalogue, there's jut no way for me to do it myself. makes me wish i would have tried harder to make my tables pretty back when i was just doing my own zines.

though i will say, even more important than a pretty table, is having zines that people want to buy. sometimes i read the best zines, but they're so awful-looking from the outside. it's always interesting to me to see what sells at a zine fair. it's usually very different than what sells through the distro online catalogue. when people order online, they are basing their decisions on the descriptions i write, & when i am falling all over myself because a zine blew me away, people can tell & they order it like crazy. but sometimes those zines aren't so appealing when you're just looking at it on a table at a zine fest, surrounded by dozens of other zines that are prettier. i'd never advocate for style over substance (substance FTW!), but a little style never hurts.
I haven't read all these comments, so I may be repeating, but something that is vertical and brings more levels to the table is really good. You could bring a little shelf or box to use like one or a display rack or a suitcase open or something like that. Anything that changes the topography a bit of the flat table with flat zines I think helps.
Oh, great tablecloth. As for the zine itself, it's interesting what appeals to people visually and what doesn't - and how that can vary by event - isn't it?

Emma Jane Falconer said:
Yeah, I've got an issue of my zine about the time I spent in Budapest. On mail order it gets ordered no more or less than any other issue, but it's the first one people go for at a fair. I guess they like the vintagey flower looking cover.


ciaraxyerra said:
oooh, thanks, katie! it's so nice to get positive feedback about my distro tables. it's true that a lot of zinesters that are just tabling their own stuff have really gorgeous displays & sometimes i feel jealous that, as a distro, i just have too much stuff to do anything really stylized. i definitely enjoy looking at tables that have beautified themselves & the idea of little descriptions for the zines is a good one. but with like 150 items in the distro catalogue, there's jut no way for me to do it myself. makes me wish i would have tried harder to make my tables pretty back when i was just doing my own zines.

though i will say, even more important than a pretty table, is having zines that people want to buy. sometimes i read the best zines, but they're so awful-looking from the outside. it's always interesting to me to see what sells at a zine fair. it's usually very different than what sells through the distro online catalogue. when people order online, they are basing their decisions on the descriptions i write, & when i am falling all over myself because a zine blew me away, people can tell & they order it like crazy. but sometimes those zines aren't so appealing when you're just looking at it on a table at a zine fest, surrounded by dozens of other zines that are prettier. i'd never advocate for style over substance (substance FTW!), but a little style never hurts.
Hey Andria, thanks for your feedback. I agree, those easels are good - I use one sometimes to display a particular zine with the price on it and set a stack of copies beside it.

Count me in on a reading at the Wooden Shoe! Thanks for asking. I already have an idea of something I could read, a new zine that I haven't printed many copies of, but the writing is (meant to be) funny, and I've always liked the idea of doing a funny reading. Hm, another place for a reading. Like another bookstore? Let me think ...

As for other zine fests, I don't know. I was just talking to someone about the Boston Zine Fair, which apparently didn't take place this fall as it usually does. He told me there were some rumblings that it might happen early next year, which would be cool. I went last year and had fun, and sold a nice bunch of my poetry books.

We'll Never Have Paris said:
I actually sell crafts at craft fairs. I find that for me, with all the stuff I have for sale, the little pile of zines don't hold anyone's attention. I sell better at straight up zine fests. I feel like when people are looking at my clocks (that I make. newyorkclocks.etsy.com) and the customer's eyes go to the zines, I have to say something obvious like, 'and those are not clocks. they are little books'. ha.

anyhow, a couple of those easle stands will help. I haven't done it yet but personally I have always wanted to display my zines in a few of those cake stands, with the glass case. maybe have some free cupcakes at your table? oh I see someone else suggested that already. I second it.

hey katie, when is the next ZIne fair that is not far away from me in NYC? pss: a few of us are going to come out to Wooden Shoe probably at the end of January maybe you want to come and read that night? don't have a date yet. but if we are making the trip anyhow, have a second place we could read while there that weekend?
i was at the bust craftacular in nyc today & ayun halliday (east village inky) had a cool zine display. her zines were displayed in clear plastic pockets (kind of like what you described before, katie) that reminded me of the pocket charts you might see in a classroom. they were about poster-board size and held a bunch of quarter-sized zines. each chart thingie was mounted onto a piece of wood and the wood was standing up like an easel. does that make sense?

at any rate, it was cool to look at, totally eye catching, and very much invited browsing.
When Amber and I tabled at Expozine together, we noticed that people were going for her colourful covers. My zines are very stylized and have photographs on the covers, but in a sea of black and white, everyone dives for the colour!
Krissy PonyBoy Press said:
I haven't read all these comments, so I may be repeating, but something that is vertical and brings more levels to the table is really good. You could bring a little shelf or box to use like one or a display rack or a suitcase open or something like that. Anything that changes the topography a bit of the flat table with flat zines I think helps.

Agreed. You'll attract more attention if there's something above the surface of the table. I think at the PDX symposium in '08 I saw a few of those "photo tree" things with the alligator clips with small and mini zines clipped on. Those are easy to DIY too--stick some dowels into a bit of clay and glue alligator clips on the ends.

Classy office brochure racks, easels, and magazine stands work great too. You could also get a vintage suitcase (my favorite one cost a quarter at a yard sale) and stack the zines inside and stand them up in the little pockets. That's a staple at indie band merch tables everywhere.
One of the EASIEST ways to get displays is to use the folded cardboard ones discarded by big box stores like WalMart. They get tons of Xmas stuff in displays they shove onto the shelves, once they're empty they end up on the floor then taken in back and broken down flat. I've helped myself to many of those, without problem going through the checkout. They kept things from falling off the back of my tables at a ren faire and several outdoor craft fairs. The benefit is that they have backs on them that are pretty stiff cardboard, so standing things up helps vary the height of merchandise on your table.

I've also gotten free acrylic displays that were dumpster dived for behind Walgreens, Footlocker and others that get these from the manufacturer with the merchandise but which they don't use on their shelves. Beautiful stuff, just trashed for the land fill. Keep your eyes open. Even ask, say, at JoAnn Fabrics or Blockbuster Video or even Barnes & Noble. Ask to talk to the manager and then make your request. I can't tell you how many boxes, packing peanuts and stuff they just give away if you ask nicely!

And when YOU trash the displays with overuse, then they can finally be recycled permanently.
Also, another discussion on this is available here
You can do what I do. When you're at Barnes & Noble or any large bookstore, talk to the manager about disposeable displays that they get, ask if you can have them.

I've also used great looking 'display' boxes from the Aldi's food store (no logos on them, or if there are in front you just cover them) and recycled acrylic displays from Walgreens that were being tossed out. It's not difficult to ask for the manager of any store and talk to them about displays that they may be tossing out. I've gotten some really good stuff that way. The worst they can say is 'no', right?
I have this really neat old suit case, that I use when I sell them. There really is no where you can sell zines in fresno, other then shows and when we have arthop once a week.

I usually take cakes along because they seem to make everything look more attractive. But then most people don't seem to eat the cakes I take along! What, is it because I have a beard?

It's good to feed the vegans though. I was at a fair last year and I was chatting to a scrawny-looking kid in dreads. I offered him a biscuit and he refused. At that point I cried, 'IT'S VEGAN!' And he immediately turned around and took a biscuit. Didn't buy a zine, but he did take a biscuit.

Tablecloths, you say? Excellent idea.

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