I used to leave my zine everywhere. Small piles in record stores, coffee houses, clubs, and bars. Every time I'd get coffee or go out to eat, I'd leave a copy on the table, or if they had one of those areas with the day's paper, there. I'd leave copies in libraries, copy shops, etc. But I was on a mission to spread the word and get new readers constantly.
I hide my zine "Karl Marx's Beard Presents: A Book of Ill-Tempered Commodities" in copies of The Communist Manifesto at the Borders' and Barnes and Noble's around here. Its fun, but a little disappointing that I don't know what happens to them. I get the nagging feeling that the employees just toss them. I like that phrase, Joseph, 'Collaboration w/ the community'. That's a good way to put it.
I used to leave notes everywhere and I've always thought about/wanted to leave zines, but so far I haven't. I've handed them off to people, but that's it. I've been thinking of making a small zine specifically to leave around though, because I love leaving things for people to find about as much as I like finding things.
I've left copies at a couple coffee shops here, with the owners' permissions, because they were interested in them and thought people might pick them up and read them.
I've always liked the idea of leaving them in places like the dentist waiting room because you could theoretically have some 16 year-old kid waiting with nothing to read but parenting magazines and children's books and it could change his life.
But I've just lost so much money on zines in the past six months that I don't feel like I can afford to really give copies away willy-nilly. Even when I send copies away for review, I think "well, there's $2 I'm not going to get back" and it adds up pretty quickly.
This past summer, I left 5 issues of each of my zines on a table at the SF Zine Fest. So far no one has contacted me.. but I assume that there are at least 5 people who randomly picked up my zines and (hopefully) enjoyed them. It felt so thrilling to put them down and just walk away.
I made a zine specifically for the purpose of leaving it in random places, based on my friends Sam and Bex's movement Cheerthefuckupism. It's meant to be like a religious tract without the baggage. I left a few around Portland last year, and I sent a ton of copies to Sam and Bex in the UK so they could spread it around. I haven't left any in my town or anywhere else yet.
I honestly never considered doing that with my perzines. I honestly don't expect to ever make any money off zines, so I might as well spread them around.
Over the months, where I checked at a few of the places I left them, it didn't look like anybody'd even touched them, though I suppose one or two may've been taken. At least it didn't look like anybody was throwing them away, which is a little encouraging. At the EWU library bulletin board where I'd left some, and at which they were starting to get covered over, they cleaned the board, and to my surprise, somebody'd kept them on, and neatly put them back on the board again, which was nice of them, as I guess the rules are that they were supposed to throw them away with all the other past-dated material. Was it just a kind person, compassionate toward a lonely eccentric? Or do I have a secret ally?
I'm hesitant to leave any of my other zines in public places. I'm afraid they may be too wierd, and get me in trouble, maybe even with the police from complaining business owners. This area seems disturbingly conservative. (As you all know, I always put my physical address in, as a matter of principle.) But I'm seriously thinking of taking the leap and doing that. I did donate a stack of my zines to a thrift shop in California once under a stack of magazines. No replies yet. I'd LOVE to get replies this way, but I doubt it'd ever happen.
I left up flyers for zine world in the Cheney laundromat. They've been there for months, but haven't been touched.
There's a group in Spokane that organizes something called the "Really Free Market", where people bring items to give away free, and take what they need or want. Strictly no selling, trading, or bartering. The next one's going to be Dec. 27. I hope to go if I'm not snowed in, and "sneak in" some zines with my other stuff.
I'm working on the second issue of Alternative Ads, Contacts & Opinion. I'm going to put it in the "Big Mail" and distibute like I did the first issue. But I'm going to try to keep it down to a single sheet this time.
I used to not do this because when my zines were in english, it would have had little chance to be read by the mostly francophone population here (I live in Québec, not Montréal, and it's not rare at all to find people who are not bilingual or have real difficulty speaking english, so.. READ IT??! Although yes there are people here who are bilingual and totally fluent, like me!) but since I started publishing a local, french-language zine, I leave a lot of them in town, probably 25-35% of every print run.
I leave some in public transportation, in buses and on the ferry. Laundromats are great, and coffee shops as well, but I think it's also important to place some in totally random spots, where a person WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT A ZINE IS will find it. At the bank, in the supermarket, at the dentist or doctor's office, at the vet's, anywhere!!
Just remember to:
1.Shield your zine from the elements. If it's raining or snowing, dont leave them outside in a bus shelter, etc.
2. TIMING is almost as importance as PLACE. I.e. leaving a zine on the last bus on a Monday night will only have it picked up and thrown away by a bus employee; same thing if you leave a bunch inside an ATM entrance only to get the security guard put them in the trash. But if you leave 2 or 3 around midnight on a friday in a busy bus downtown, chances are they will be picked up by people. Same thing at a show, exhibit, where there are people buzzing about instead of just leaving it in an empty restaurant corner where it is most probable to get thrown out when the waitress cleans up.
Other places I like to leave zines is in people's bags if I can put them in silently, inside milk crates on bikes, directly in mailboxes, in a hospital waiting room, with flyers at the public library, on cork boards in bars or cafés, etc.
I'd love to find a letter in a library book! Sad thing is, library workers often have to sift through books' pages as part of their jobs. I used to put flyers inside books before returning books, only to be shamed by the library worker shuffling the pages right in front of me and giving me back my flyers... so basically I think the only way to reach people is to place your stuff in books that are on the shelf.
star blanket river child said:
I've always wanted to and I reaaaally hope to once I'm a little more financially stable. I leave letters in library books pretty frequently, though.