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As a zine fest organizer... i am wondering... as i am sure many other organizers wonder...

WHAT DO YOU WANT AT A ZINE FEST?

Both as an attendee and as a tabler... what are you looking to get out of attending a zine fest? What could organizers do to make it a more enjoyable experience? What are things you have seen at zine fests and you think, "Wow, that is NOT working!" or "What a COOL idea!" or "Why didn't they ______ ?"

Tags: events, fests, zinefest, zines

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Every year at the Brooklyn Book Festival, I share a table with a guy who has self-published one book to date. I have four books, dozens of zines, baby onesies, all manner of crap, as well as a much more laid back sales pitch. But I'm always very careful to make sure that table is split right down the middle, and come prepared to build my displays vertically (w/ the help of duct tape, dowels and my battered granny cart, which is how i transport my merchandise to this event.)

I figure it ain't the size of your merchandise / table, it's how you use it. My tablemate, he of the self-published travel book, always brings a festive book-specific table covering, gives away free Panamanian coffee to every browser (and a pound of it to every buyer!) and he manages to make his one product look pretty respectable.

I really really really like assigned tables, b/c I am a bit passive when it comes to musical chairs. I also expend so much energy on how I'm going to get to the event (non-driver, parent of young children) that I like having a designated port when at last my ship sails in...
I think having a well-updated website (or other easy way of spreading information) is very important! Lack of information has caused problems for me in the past. In 2007, the NJ ZIne Fest changed their start time from noon to something like 5:00 p.m. and I had no idea until I got there at noon and saw a sign. I had to just go home because there was no way I could wait around for five hours. That really sucked.

I think having free food or food for sale is a good idea, keeps people around longer.

Good location and lots of signs leading the way, lots of advertising

I think a "don't" would be having loud music playing in the background. Music can be kind of polarizing.

Zine readings and performances are kind of cool, but they tend to bring everything else to a standstill...

And friendly organizers! Please be friendly!
i like zine fairs where: there are lots of zines! this is kind of a "no duh" moment, but i really dislike zine fairs where all that is being tabled are books, comics, & crafts, with a meager sprinkling of zines.

I completely agree with this comment.

and this one:
i really love the thought-provoking discussion-based political zine workshops

I feel zine fests lately (or at least one's I've attended) have gotten too "fluffy" for my interests and strayed away from anything challenging or provoking. Or for that matter, zines. So I'd like to see zine fests take hold of more their original mission, not just to inspire, but to empower.

Ciara is right, imo, zines are not crafts.
I agree... where it's nice to feel like you can be lax on certain issues... you just can't when other people are relying on you to know what time to be somewhere. Especially since a lot of zinesters travel to go to fests.

I think that it is important for the zine community to be just as organized as any other event would be. Some people think they have a license to be lax because it's a DIY project or what have you. I just don't understand that mentality.

Sabrina said:
I think having a well-updated website (or other easy way of spreading information) is very important! Lack of information has caused problems for me in the past. In 2007, the NJ ZIne Fest changed their start time from noon to something like 5:00 p.m. and I had no idea until I got there at noon and saw a sign. I had to just go home because there was no way I could wait around for five hours. That really sucked./div>
Krissy, You have a lot of stuff to fill up a whole table... and you are friend with the organizers and can explain that to us. I am thinking about 2 specific peole who come to the zine symposium every year and have two zines and get a whole table. We just want to event to be as inclusive as possible.

Krissy PonyBoy Press said:
only give full tables to people who really need them like distros or people who travel with other people's zines.

This makes me feel crappy. I had a full table because I have lots of zines and I don't like to be jammed in trying to fit them all on a table while also making it so people can see them. It makes the whole experience much more fun to me to have my own table. I gladly pay the extra money and do not ask for it back, so why am I being greedy?

Also, Alex, by your criteria, you wouldn't have a full table, either. I hope you will consider this during the meetings.

Alex Wrekk said:
How about not have a black out! Seriously, the Midwest zine fest of 03 I think started hours after the huge blackout that happened! They were such troopers and still pulled it off. I was amazed.

What are people's opinions on assigning tables vs. free for all? We have done both with the Portland Zine Symposium. I think I like them assigned. Also, this year we are limiting the amount of full tables to make room for more individual zinesters and only give full tables to people who really need them like distros or people who travel with other people's zines. In the past we have had greedy jerks who just wanted a full table or filled the tables up with things that are not zine or comics and I don't feel that was fair. We are also having the PZS for 3 days again. 3 days of tabling and 2 of them will have workshops. We are devising a way that people can register for each day separately on the web sit so we can regulate how many tables we will have each day. I'm pretty excited about that because we had a huge overbooking problem last year.

I like zine events where there is one or two specific people who do the announcing of workshops/raffles/etc. and event organizers who get lots of change.
I think a lot of zine people see that there are more comic shows and especially zine fairs so that when there is a zine event they want to see zines. I know with the Portland ZIne Symposium we require that there be a certain percentage of zines on the table.


BestAvailable said:
I think doing everything that you can to make sure that it's well attended is important.

I had no idea that the separation of zines and crafts and comics was so strict in people's minds. I do all three, and I go to comic cons, craft shows, and zine fest. So in my mind, the lines are blurred. I pretty much put my same stuff out wherever we go. I find it really fascinating to see how people react to different stuff at different venues.

Also, at the Indie Craft Show, they gave out free beer the whole time. That made me really happy.
Okay, Alex. I understand. :-)

Alex Wrekk said:
Krissy, You have a lot of stuff to fill up a whole table... and you are friend with the organizers and can explain that to us. I am thinking about 2 specific peole who come to the zine symposium every year and have two zines and get a whole table. We just want to event to be as inclusive as possible.

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