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Is there a market for selling old zines as collectors items like comics?

I probably have a few hundred zines from the 90's. I have all pathetic life (at least I think I do, there was always one mysterious issue that never appeared). FF5, Rollerderby, Ben is Dead, Crank, Even Tank Girls Get The Blues, and on and on. I had a favorite one, can't remember the name right now, I just had issue #2, it was like 200 pages and all about this guy who was squatting in Florida at the time and all his travels. I always wanted to find the first one.

I've been hanging on to many of them in case someone ever became a famous writer, etc. :D I might consider auctioning on e-Bay if there is enough of a market for them.

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If only people would do what zines told them to!

I doubt very much that I, personally, would have to worry about anything like this. I also think that records regularly sell for WAAAY more on face value than zines do. Classic examples are fetishism over old Misfits 7" records, and early hardcore. Even more contemporary bands like Fucked Up have had to deal with the reality that they are creating a specialized market by producing limited qualities. It doesn't matter if you aren't intending to create a collectible item. If it is unique and limited in quantity, highly desirable, or if it contains some ultimate level of importance for any sort of subculture, brace yourself and prepare to be co-opted. You can make your desires known, like the old CRASS records that would say pay no more than £5, ever, or you could rock it like Dischord records and print the price and mailorder address, with a message, saying "This is available directly from us for $9" or something like that. There are ways around it, but if you're talking about long out of print first runs, you're basically shit outta luck. If you're concerned about income and incredulously watching collector scum get rich off your efforts while you've got to pay the dentist bills, maybe you can flood the market with reprints, sell some, and bring down the inflated price of the originals?
This has been quite interesting. I certainly did not ask this to upset anyone, but I do like hearing everyones feelings on it.

It's funny that Cometbus came up right away, I have many issues. Was one of my faves, and Dishwasher Pete (I think?)... well there were many, when I go through them this time, I'll post a list here to let you all know what I have (no not selling anything at this time).

Wes - I totally agree, and I also put out a zine in the early 90's. Three issues, primarily used for trades. And yes, whoever purchases said item, then owns that same item to re-sell if they wish. I also agree with your side note, to simply copy something now and sell as original would really bite. Reprinted - fine by me, but be clear. But this is the collector in me speaking.

Shawn - I agree partially, but please also remember, I was supporting the zine community also. Interesting to hear about Aaron from Cometbus. I would suspect if I was contacted by the publisher I would consider their wishes. I also know there are people that would love to read Cometbus, and I guess I would hope Aaron has reprinted it or such and makes it available to this day. But I'm 20 years older now than I was then, as are the publishers. I'm proud that I hung on to them for so long. And it's funny how you worded it, cause I'm the one with a terminal disease. But no worries, and no offense, I didn't ask because I need the money. misfits and weirdos - describes me pretty damn well :D

Drugless - dddaaammmnnn man. hehe

Overall, I guess I was most curious about the most "commercial" zines. Glossy, paid ads, cash only - no stamps, etc. But then I was also thinking about BID and I have their first Gross issue, had to be late 80's, printed on newspaper stock, and was free around LA. And like Drugless and Nicole mentioned records, even like MRR (Maximum Rock and Roll) that would put out 7" on inserts and such.

Love all the feedback. Thanks.

MAS, thanks for understanding. I apologize if I sounded a bit harsh. Maybe it's because I was a comics geek way before I was a zine geek, and I saw what happened with the comics collectible market in the 90's so I probably over-reacted. By the way, what zine did you do?
Yeah, I was into comics also. Despised the collapse of it. I lived in Boulder, CO. at the time it went to crap. Was very close to Mile High Comics. Just to show my stubborness, I'm still sitting on around 3500+ comics, golden/silver - 80's. A collectors market will start up again someday (I just saw they are printing a new Overstreet price guide for 2009!). It just may not start up during my life time.

I did a 1/2 size zine called VK. As I said, mainly used for trades. Got a so-so write up in FF5 (but you know, FF5 kinda kissed up too much and didn't slam many zines). Probably sent out 250 or so issues total. I look back on it and it was crap compared to what I liked to read. Hell, 10 or so peeps told me they wouldn't trade for my piece of crap zine :D Was a fun experiment for me, even Doug told me it pretty much sucked! But even I had those 10 or so readers that would ask for the next one.

In all honesty, there is a part of me that would like to make copies and simply offer them to the community for the price of copying and postage. Don't get me wrong, this goes against my ideals. I owned my own software company in the late '80's and most of the '90's and can't stand the thought of peeps pirating the software. But I know it happened plenty. But back to the point, no matter what, it is copyrighted material (the zines), and I guess without the permission of the author(s) I wouldn't feel right doing it. It could also kinda "flood" the small market with copies that others could later call originals and do exactly like what I asked here. Too bad most will never be seen or heard from again. I mean most of the per-zines I have are crap, but we all know what we love or dislike in every zine and it differs for all of us. Donating to a library is interesting, but I'm worried most are simply one person operations, pretty much setup by a personal who wants to collect all this stuff. I always remember a couple books that came out by somebody talking about the zine revolution back then, he wasn't liked much. I pretty much gave up zines when PL/Doug Holland quit. I always waited for those issues and many times it would take like 3 months to get one lol. He kept me on the list for the startup of Zine World (which I always found interesting, because my companies were Bar Biz Software and barworld.com), which he knew of, but just coincidence I'm sure.

Sorry for all the babble.

Shawn Granton said:
MAS, thanks for understanding. I apologize if I sounded a bit harsh. Maybe it's because I was a comics geek way before I was a zine geek, and I saw what happened with the comics collectible market in the 90's so I probably over-reacted. By the way, what zine did you do?
derrick. said:
how much are the old cometbuses going for on ebay anyways? the only case i know (not that i research this) of old zines being of big value are the old SST zines raymond pettibon made, because he's such a big commodity in the fine art world these days.

When I read the title of this discussion, I began to jump up and down with excitement. I could already smell the blood and imagine people use the f-word a lot, but you guys have disappointed me with your polite talking...
Jokes aside, this has been a very interesting forum, on a subject that deserves to be discussed. Some of you are probably aware of a similar discussion in this site on the ethics of photocopying other people's zines.
I completely agree with Wes on this subject, and I think he couldn't have stated his point of view in a better way. Originally I come from mail art, and in that network we share the idea of "gift culture." This said, people put a price on their zines, and must be aware that they can't control what happens to their works once they give them away. In my opinion, one thing many people seem to get wrong is that there are absolute values (i.e. universally accepted ideas e.g. the right to life, and to work) and relative values. Not photocopying and/or not re-selling other people's zines clearly belong to the latter group, and you can see it in the variety of opinions you have on these subjects. Also, many people, when they think about zines, think about punk and the DIY culture of the 70s and 80s. They never consider (or just don't know) that zines go back to the late 19th century, and historically zines have been made for a variety of reasons. In this respect, punk zines are just a small part of zine history. Apart from this, I must confess that I find it a little hypocritical for many people to talk about intellectual property in zinedom, when everybody thinks nothing about copying and/or downloading other people's music, films, books, etc. just because they are "sticking it to the Man." You can bet many of those artists are not very happy about it. Speaking of which, people who think it's not ethical to re-sell or photocopy Dishwasher, would think the same thing regarding Pete's recently published books?
MAS, there is one thing I haven't completely understood in your point of view. On one side you think that re-selling a zine as a collector's item is okay, but you are against photocopying. I can't see why, especially if it's done only for the price of copying and postage. Also, it's interesting that you talk about zines as originals and copies of copies as "non-originals." Theoretically speaking, a photocopy of a printed book is a copy, but a photocopy of a photocopy is... another original - at least according to the theory and philosophy of xerography. But that's a different discussion altogether, and you would probably find it boring.
As a last note, the highest selling zine on ebay I know about is an issue of Crap Hound (before it was officially reprinted). It sold for between 50 and 75 bucks, and the buyer offered to pay the same sum even if it was just a copy of the copy.
"Much like any other zinemaker whose zine could be worth more than that initial dollar -- Dishwasher, Murder Can Be Fun, Craphound, etc -- were all major contributors to the "scene" so it sucks to be profiting off of them.

But back to the original question -- 99% of zines retain virtually no value even though opportunists try to sell them for inflated values. Just because someone is attempting it doesn't mean that anyone is buying it."

Mainly it's ridiculous just because I could have an old issue of DISHWASHER, head on over to Staples and xerox a bunch of fresh new copies of it, sell it as an original and no one would be the wiser. Comic books and records and the like all have identifying marks telling you whether you have an original or a copy. With zines no such thing exists for the most part so no wise collector (which is a contradiction in terms if you ask me because the idea of collecting is silly to me to begin with.) would pay big money for an original xerox that could easily be either a well taken care of original or a fresh new copy. I don't think selling old zines for profit is morally wrong (unethical, perhaps, but not illegal though I do think it'd be more trouble than it was worth) but on the practical level it wouldn't work.
Ericfishlegs wrote: "Mainly it's ridiculous just because I could have an old issue of DISHWASHER, head on over to Staples and xerox a bunch of fresh new copies of it, sell it as an original and no one would be the wiser. (...) an original xerox (...) could easily be either a well taken care of original or a fresh new copy."

I agree with Eric on this, and actually it is what I wrote when I mentioned the "theory and philosophy" of xerography: A copy of something that was produced with a photocopier in the first place is just another original. Also, the latest xerox machines are of such high quality that you can barely notice the difference. Maybe you won't find those models at Kinko's though.
Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy - Fight Club

It was SCAM. Thanks!

This discussion seems kind of ridiculous to me because what you are talking about is INTENTIONALLY MISLEADING PEOPLE. If the discussion is whether or not it's ethical to sell other people's old, potentially valuable work, it is definitely not ethical to sell a bootleg as a legitimate original.
I'm glad I stumbled onto this forum and this thread.

I have a bunch of cr*p around, including comics and graphic novels and board games etc etc etc that I need to get rid of.

And a big box of zines.

Philosophically, if I paid for the zines (I never traded, I never had the bug to create my own zines), I am unclear why I shouldn't sell them now... I paid the creator what they were asking, so now they are my property to do with them what I like. It's not like I will make a killing on my collection. I have a stack of FF5's, but the rest are well, zines... :-)

That said, I wouldn't like to dump the ones that don't have any resale value. So, can someone list a few of these "zine libraries?"

the toronto zine library
c/o Tara Bursey
68 Crawford Street
Toronto, Ontario
M6J 2V2


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