We Make Zines

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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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I agree with Ciara. I think everyone has to respect that there are different viewpoints on this issue, and that there are many different reasons to make zines. For many individuals, the reason they make zines result in them not necessarily wanting every single person in the world to read their work, especially when that work is divorced from the more intimate context of a zinester-to-reader mail order or distro mail order.

On a basic level, I find the idea that people would sell at a profit something as inherently non-commercial as a zine quite distasteful and unethical, no matter what the subject matter of the zine is.
Count me on the list of those who agree with Ciara. I don't get involved in these discussions/arguments anymore because it's too taxing to feel like I have to explain to strangers why I feel the way I feel, but Ciara has summed it up damned near perfectly.
Maybe the best way to sell perzines would be through distros, and on the distro website or catalogue, there should be some sort of pre-purchase agreement as to what the buyer may or may not do with that zine. At this point, this information isn't succinctly communicated in the price info in Zine World and other review zines. If this is such a strong feeling among so many zinesters, maybe some sort of distinct set of "code words" should be arrived at, like, "restrictions on buyer" or "ROB".

IF there were such "ROB"'s on a zine, I would think twice about ordering or trading for it myself. I'm into zines for the networking and I want to exchange information and ideas freely. I'm not comfortable with how I sell, donate, or otherwise pass on a zine, being so micro-managed. It borders on degrading.

This whole issue does seem like it'll add some complexity to the "free and easy" way of "getting zines" I've always known, but hey, I guess I'll learn to navigate around it.

I would never DESTROY or MALICIOUSLY DEFACE anybody's zine, or re-print it if I knew they were pro-copyright, or print anybody's letter if they marked "DO NOT PRINT", but zinesters have to put these stipulations into writing, front and center, if they feel so strongly about them. It's presumptous to expect others to know your moral feelings and ethics of the subculture you belong to.

Self publishing has been around for a long, long, time. This anti-profit sensibility belongs to one faction of "the zine community" and I readily admit, seems to be the dominant viewpoint. I don't share it. I'm a libertarian and I'm neither pro nor anti profit. Libertarianism per se is based on "the non-aggression principle" which is variously interpreted among libertarians. My own ethics, aesthetics, etc. are complex and I constantly reflect on and question them. But I don't begrudge anybody the "thrill of the deal" and frankly, can relate to the fun in it. I don't see anything mean or dirty in it, but I'm willing to respect the anti-profit sensibility in other zinesters and try to treat them and their zines accordingly.

Maybe what I'm a little bothered by is this implication that larger zinesterdom is expected to defer to the feminist/straight-edge/leftist morality and ettiquette on everything. You DO know there are other extreme/alternative/minority philosophies and lifestyles besides yours among zinesters. It's as presumptious as if most zinesters turned out to be Christians and expected pagans and Satanists to take a back seat on the zine bus. If we're going to try to maintain some civility and co-operation among ourselves on these forums, we're going to have to recognize that.

JND
I was thinking some kind of 'Please do not resell' logo could be a good thing? Quite likely this has already been tried.
I think the biggest problem with Ciara's attitude is she calls everyone assholes that don't agree with her. She's carried on these arguments for years instead of working towards a solution. Attacking someone merely asking if is there a market for larger popular zines on Ebay seems ridiculous, especially when you realize she's obviously talking about very different type of zine. This attack was not warranted on this thread, but she used it as an opportunity to call people names. Did the person who started this thread ask about small very personal zines? No. So why all the hate?

Most zinesters can agree with your point that there is a small selection of zines that are very personal and made for a select audience of friends. But I have a hard time seeing how anyone can support a person that jumps on a thread that merely asked a question, and about a different kind of zine, to call people names and post a bunch of long rants. That's bad selfish behavior at best, most would call it something worse. Should people be afraid to ask questions because they may face the wrath of Ciara? Sadly, I know from personal messages, people are, both here and on livejournal. And it's unfortunate the someone continues to insult and bully people to the point that they won't ask questions or voice their opinion. To me that's a far worse offense than someone selling an old copy of Rollerderby on Ebay.

As for a solution, rather than a stalemate... much like anything you publish, or even a photograph you send a friend, there is the potential for it to end up where you don't want it to go once you've put it out there in the world. Since you can't control what other people do, I'd second the idea of clearly communicating your intentions to your zine readers. Honest and open communication is a good thing, don't be scared of it. It's a great suggestion to add a note, much like a copyright note, on the actual zine that says something like "This is a small personal publication, please do not re-sell it without the expressed permission of the author." At least then you've clearly outlined to any readers your intentions and they should then feel like an asshole if they re-sell it.

And, for the record, I've seen people selling my old punk zine on Ebay a few times. I was just stoked to see it actually sold!
As usual I thank the dudley fucks for saying those things for me. I agree with everything they said.
So for a change, this time I'd rather focus on what Ciara wrote and - surprise - I mostly agree with her too. In particular she said:
1) "it's INCREDIBLY disrespectful to tell a zinester who writes intense personal zines that they should give up their zining & get a diary."
2) "it's disrespectful to tell zinesters to expect to have their zines re-sold at a profit whenever possible unless they specifically specify that this not happen"
3) "[it's disrespectful to tell them] that readers are free to ignore their stated wishes."

I agree with point 1 and 3. I dare say many if most zinesters agree with these points. I'll go so far to declare that people who ignore other people's wishes are... assholes.
But I can't agree with point 2. Why complicate everybody's life when a simple DO NOT note written in your zine would be so easy to write? If I invite you for dinner at my home, and you are a vegan, and you don't tell me, you run the risk I'll find some meat in your plate. You actually wouldn't because I would be considerate enough to ask you, but why run the risk? [especially in Italy or Japan, where vegans and vegetarians are not as common as in the US]
As an aside, I think that point 2 and 3 contradict each other, in a sense. It's a matter of interpretation. Never presuppose other people think exactly like you.

Now that I've got into 'teacher' mode (sorry, it's my job) I'd like to add somethig else. English is not my mother tongue, and I always try not to embarrass myself with my English. So I checked out "shout down" in Dictionary.com and it says: "To overwhelm or silence by shouting loudly." In my opinion, swearing and using foul words to attack others equals shouting down, so I'm a little surprise when Ciara says: "there are a LOT of people who post here who think re-selling is patently wrong, but they are so consistently shouted down by a vocal commitee of dudley fucks telling them to go buy diaries that they've mostly given up the argument." Arguing in a civil way is not "shouting down."
I actually have a theory why people who write zines about sensitive issues don't argue that much in these threads: it's because they are mostly women (or so Ciara says). From my experience, most women prefer to do, not to talk. I come from mail art, and every time I ask a femail artist to write for my mail art zine, 4 times out of 5 her reply is "I'm not interested in writing or talking about it." So it seems that only men like to rant endlessly.
I tend to give everything I have have ever made away for free and most everything is still available. For free.

If you can sell my zines for anything, please let me know how you did it.
Because in most cases, people will not even take the damn things.
i find it very interesting, dan, that you are the recipient of such a large volume of personal correspondence from people who are intimidated by me & afraid of voicing their opinions for fear of incurring my wrath. i have been the recipient of a large volume of personal correspondence from people who have said the exact same thing about you. we could get together & put together one hell of a bizarre, mutually annoyed split zine about how obnoxious we find one another. i know you don't like me, & i know i don't like you, but you might note that my post was followed by several people agreeing with me. i don't think i am representing a "small minority" viewpoint at all.

as far as claiming that i don't "work toward a solution"--i infact write a quarterly newsletter in which i address these types of issues. everyone who orders from my distro (even just one zine, or a button) gets a free newsletter with every order (& more, if they ask for them). i also send the newsletter for free to be handed out at infoshops, zine libraries, zine-related events, & wherever else people want to put them out. there are a few hundred copies of the most recent (january) newsletter in circulation, all across the world. i write about my philosophies on zine ethics & etiquette & brainstorm solutions to various problems facing zinesters. for example, the fall 2008 newsletter included a list of cost-cutting measures to help bring down the overhead in producing zines & make them cheaper for readers. the most recent newsletter involved the politics of writing personal zines. paper trail distro (which may be the largest distro in the world run by a single individual, & makes enough money at the end of the month that i recently started a grant program to help financially struggling zinesters make ends meet) hinges to some degree on my reputation as a zinester & as someone with a lot of coherent & comprehensively thought-out opinions about the politics of zines. a huge part of paper trail's success comes directly from the fact that a lot of zine readers appreciate my taste in zines & respect my take on the ethics of zine-making.

but sure. all right. all i do is shout people down with my profanity-laced minority opinion. god forbid that the dudetastic libertarians of the zine world be expected to consider that their world view may not actually be the default setting for a sizeable & prolific share of the zine-making populace. in fact, to hear gianni tell it, women actually don't like to talk! women don't actually like to express their opinions. i must be a strange unnatural woman with my big mouth.

an opinionated feminist zinester friend of mine with whom i recently discussed the issue actually said that she doesn't bother to weigh in on these discussions much anymore because "it's impossible to argue with dan10things. it's just not worth the effort. i'd rather take that energy & put it into making zines & supporting the zines that i do like. i just try to ignore those guys." so it's like i said: we all do zines, or at least, we all read zines. but in many other respects, we inhabit different worlds. & maybe that's not such a terrible thing. rather than trying to force one another to adhere to our standards of ethical behavior, "civil" discourse, & proper female behavior, maybe we should just co-exist with as little interaction as possible.

another loudmouthed feminist zine friend said recently, "the zine scene seems dudelier now. maybe i am just noticing more because news about zines has become more centralized." i think she makes a very good point. all of these difference in opinion, tactics, expectation, et al existed in 1995 too, but it was easier to ignore them because we didn't have zine-themed social networking sites corralling us all together into threads where we would pick apart one another's ideas. in some ways, it's great to be able to see the expansive diversity in the zine world, but in other ways, it can be stressful & disheartening. just as james seems extremely distressed by the possibility that he might unwittingly spend cold hard cash on a zine & then be expected not to re-sell, i am distressed by the possibility that i would have to explicitly ask readers not to re-sell my zines. (i mean, i already do in a casual way, because i got sick of my zines showing up on ebay, but to actually create an acronym or an icon...i feel it normalizes the behavior of the pro-reselling crowd, & they are undoubtedly equally disturbed that NOT having an icon or acronym normalizes the expectations of the anti-resellers.) i can only hope that i am writing zines containing content that are not interesting to resellers, because i'm not interested in pandering to them by treating their (in my opinion) unethical behavior as something i should have to politely request they refrain from doing. in my mind, it's like wearing a t-shirt that says, "please don't rob me," & being blamed for being robbed should i go out one day wearing a different t-shirt. "well, how could they have known? you weren't wearing your shirt!"
Ciara, I don't agree with you and I feel completely differently about people reselling my own zines, but I do see where you're coming from and I respect your feelings about people reselling your work.

My biggest reason for suggesting the icon/statement against reselling (and I recognise this has probably been gone over a million times before) is a practical one - given that we operate (willingly or otherwise) within a wider economy where people have no expectation of creators objecting to their work being resold, it seems unreasonable to me to expect people to come to zines fresh and understand that position without having it put plainly to them. The point you make about wearing a 'don't rob me' t-shirt very well conveys your feelings, but the difference is that robbery is already illegal and almost universally recognised as immoral, whereas selling things that you've bought is both legal and seen as normal.

You are right, I think, that some of those of us who are happy to see our stuff resold also fear normalisation of (what I view as) their enforced monetary devaluisation - but I just don't see how you're ever going to stop the problem of people coming in as newbies and simply not being aware of your ethical standpoint. Until and unless, I mean, the wider economy is overturned. So then I think it's unfair to condemn people for something they've never been asked to see as wrong.
i see what you mean, wes, & i don't know if we will ever be able to find a solution or compromise that makes everyone happy. i read something recently that said that the best compromises are called compromises because they manage to make everyone UNhappy. maybe that's the only solution here.

my only quibble with what you've written is the idea that new folks who come into zines will necessarily subscribe to the reselling-is-all-right philosophy until they are schooled otherwise, perhaps in the form of some kind of icon in a zine or something. we were all new zinesters once, & it never would have crossed my mind when i first got into zines to resell someone else's zine. again, maybe this has something to do with the kinds of writing that first attracted me to zines,or something. this was a long time ago, before the internet was prevalent, & to me, discovering zines felt like discovering a secret world where all the regular rules about the way society is governed just didn't apply. even though i regularly mailed off my dollar bills for zines, i unconsciously ascribed a moral gift economy to the whole exchange. if we're being candid, i actually spent ten years resisting the allure of distros, because i thought they compromised the person-to-person communication exchange that happens between zinester & reader, which was, for me, the entire reason to read & write zines. i obviously had to change my tune & get with the times on that front, & have been running my own zine distro now for six years. but i still think there is a significant difference between the selling a distro does, & the selling that occurs when people auction off zines on ebay, or try to trade zines they didn't write themselves. i can't imagine i will ever think those kinds of practices are acceptable, even while i acknowledge that other zinesters see nothing wrong with it, feel entitled to participate in it, & perhaps even feel honored if their zines are the ones being traded/sold. i just can't relate & probably never will.
ciaraxyerra said:
i try to trade zines they didn't write themselves. i can't imagine i will ever think those kinds of practices are acceptable,

Wait a second, people have actually tried to do this? I suppose I could see doing that if they had some zines you've been wanting to read for years and they wanted to trade for copies of yours that'd be one thing, but to say "here's a zine I had nothing to do with. Send me one of yours" is just wrong on many levels. I've always found zine trading to be a rather simple and beautiful gesture. Even if the zine you get is shit it's still something someone else created, but to try and trade zines you ahd nothing to do with... I have no fucking clue what anyone would be thinking doing that.
OK, I’m going to chime in on this one despite the gritty potential for wayward vitriol and the very real threat of being called a “counter-revolutionary!” or something else suitably fancy. Oh well, sticks and stones may shatter my brittle old bones, but…I forget how the rest goes.

See, just last week I actually signed up for ebay just to buy a copy of Murder Can Be Fun # 7. You know why? I wanted to read it and John Marr has let most of his back issues go out of print, claiming that those who hadn’t read them the first time around “weren’t missing anything.” Well, as it turned out, I was missing something! The issue is actually pretty funny. While I respect his decision to drop some of his less refined work down the memory hole, I felt perfectly justified in tracking down such contraband. After all, he did release it to the public at one point in time.

Don’t get me wrong – I would have loved to give Mr. Marr his seventy cents (the 1987 cover price) rather than pay some random Canadian a couple of bucks for the issue, but under the circumstances I had precious little alternative. I mean, should such material be off limits to me simply because I didn’t procure it when it was first published? That sounds painfully elitist to me, akin to the Holy Mysteries of some ancient pagan fertility cult, or possibly Scientology. Suppression of any literature, self-published or otherwise, carries the distinct aroma of censorship to me.

As an avid reader, particularly of obscure books, it irks me when texts I’d like to peruse go out of print, and sometimes I’m forced to pay more than I’d like (nothing) for the privilege of reading them. Alas, that’s the way of the world. I don’t think that anybody is getting rich from selling old zines to others, but simply providing a small service to an equally tiny market. If you love something, let it go, and if some huckster from north of the border tries to make themselves a buck or two, well, what can be done?

On a somewhat unrelated note, I was recently alerted to the fact that several of my zines have been posted on ebay over the past few months. Since I write for the sole purpose of having my vain ramblings read, I wish those scabby peddlers the best of luck. Once it’s out of my hands it’s, well, out of my hands. So be it.

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