We Make Zines

a place for zinesters - writers and readers

The art of scamming came up in the thread about zine publishing being too expensive these days. Back in the '70s, '80s and '90s zinesters used all kinds of scams to publish cheaper or for free. Many of these scams are no longer possible, but many are, and there are new tricks also out there. We used to share scamming tips on alt.zines and through the letter pages of zines, why not do so in a thread on We Make Zines? What tricks can you share? Where do you cut corners to save money?

I'll start:

-Writing, editing, doing layout on work time and computers
-Using work scanners, laser printers and copy machines on the sly for your zine
-Stealing Sharpies, white out and blank paper from corporate chain copy shops like Kinkos (you can grab full reams of paper out of copy machines and load them in your bag if you're crafty). And stealing Sharpies is popular enough to make it into the title of one of the most popular zine chapbooks :)
-Soap your stamps when trading. Use actual postage stamps, rub bar soap over them until there is a thin film covering the stamps, then include a note with your zine that the stamps are soaped and can be reused. The person trading with you can use a wet cloth and wipe off the postal cancellation marks, cut out the stamps, glue them to the envelope they are sending a trade zine back to you in, and presto, only one of you has to pay postage.

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the stamp thing - i've never heard of using soap, but have successfully used gluesticks. the important thing - & maybe this should go in the 'zinester don'ts' thread, is to put the 'i glued the stamps please save them' note *in* the envelope, not written on the back - or it might arrive with yr stamps scribbled out in pen.
Ah yes. We forwardthinking, enlightened, progressive zinewriting people are entitled to steal. It's OK--it's from The Man!

I'm surprised and saddened that among the community that wants to make the world a better place, this kind of thing is publicly encouraged.
ParadoxMoxie said:
Ah yes. We forwardthinking, enlightened, progressive zinewriting people are entitled to steal. It's OK--it's from The Man!

I'm surprised and saddened that among the community that wants to make the world a better place, this kind of thing is publicly encouraged.

Surprised? Zinesters have historically done this, it's part of our culture and practice. The book is called "Stolen Sharpie Revolution" for a reason. Entitled to stick it to the man and to crappy corporations that overcharge and exploit? To some people it's more like a duty in the culture war. You're welcome to play by their rules, they won't themselves and they use those rules to keep you in line, but I don't think you should be saddened when others take a more active approach. I'm no Aaron Cometbus and hardly exploit the weaknesses in large corporations or the government, but it certainly doesn't make me feel sad or less enlightened when I do. Heck, it usually makes me giggle and feel pretty happy about it.
It all comes down to alignment. Some zinesters are Lawful Good, which is a lovely crew probably best represented by small kids who write minicomics with crayons, captions lovingly penned at a later time in neat handwriting by an progressive caregiver with access to a (paid) copy machine. The caregivers are probably closer to Lawful Neutral. Both sets love to put credit cards into the Kinko's slot because it is a tactile/sensational reminder that someone will always be there to smoothly receive their goodwill, and to reward them for it in tangible goods.

Also, my best scam involves selling zines for profit. Ask me how.
I tend to think Ebay is a lot less evil than Kinkos. FedEx/Kinkos often gets a thumbs down from the GBLT community for the stance on benefits for domestic partners. They've said some wacky stuff about marriage being for one man and one women that isn't exactly progressive.
Prepaid credit cards at Kinko's, that's more like Neutral Good. I feel like it's only almost lying. You have a credit card. They have a machine that requests a credit card. You place it in the machine. The copier makes copies. There's something so removed from the very concept of Law and Chaos there...

But the point is, Dan, that it's definitely Good. There's nothing Evil about stealing from Kinko's. Neither Ebay nor Kinko's even has the capacity to respect, let alone show compassion for sentient beings. There's nothing wrong with their being Evil, though. They were made that way, can't change. But it does place them into direct opposition of that which is Good, which means that opposing them makes *you* Good!

See, ParadoxMoxie? It's so logical!
Ah... my mother always brings back those tiny soaps from the hotel when she goes anywhere for a weekend. To small to wash more than an armpit. A new use for these miniature soaps, perhaps?
Holden W. Attradies said:

Thats histerical! It's like a double negative that comes out to not stealing at all!

Sorta like I didn't steal no soap and use it to soap my stamps.

On the stamp thing... I'm notoriously honest, but I'd soap the stamps. I'm mad at the USPS right now for the condition of my mail. I ordered a zine and it arrived today. It had been ripped open and half of the flap was missing. They sealed it with this puny little sticker that kept peeling off, but that didn't matter since the part where the flap had been torn off was wide open. Like open enough for the zine to fall out. I have no idea if there had been anything else in the envelope like a note from the person who sent the zine or anything else. Sometimes I've recieved extra zines or some other small thing when I've ordered, but I'll never know with this one. And this crap happens a lot. I get magazines and books in envelopes that are shredded and the contents ripped and mangled, but they keep raising the price of stamps? I'm digging out those hotel soaps tonight. LOL
"There is no security, there is only opportunity."
--General Charles MacArthur

How to scam copies?

Oh, it changes with the the times, but the hierarchical structure of all corporations offers many opportunities. As long as human beings are the cogs spinning the machines that run the body politic, it's generally a piece of cake to find some disgruntled wage-slave with access to a copier, someone who hates their job and is willing to do whatever it takes to express their rage vicariously by scamming their overlords. After all, as a friend of mine once said, "stealing from corporations is a victimless crime."

But forget about scams for a minute -- the act of bartering is a lost art as well. Sad to say, whether you're a Fortune 500 corporatist or a scabby reprobate living hand to mouth (that's me!!), it's all about connections. Everything's better if you do it yourself, but it can't hurt to have a few friends in obscure places.

Oh, and I used to know an agnostic who made copies of his zine at a church when he was supposed to be attending some youth group silliness as per his parents' command!!

I have a theory: punk rock ethics will never die as long as Nomeansno keeps touring. Go see them, post-haste!!
what so.... in a utopia, poor people wouldn't steal of corporations? because it's like .... immoral?

With the stamp thing: what about how they ink stamp over teh top of it? do they do that in your country?
womans monthly said:
With the stamp thing: what about how they ink stamp over teh top of it? do they do that in your country?

Coating the stamp with a thin layer of soap or glue stick is precisely to keep the ink from soaking into the stamp. It still does occasionally around the edges, but for the most part you can simply wipe of the ink and glue/soap with a damp cloth. Back when I was dirt poor and first zining I went so far as to soak all my lightly marked stamps in rubbing alcohol to bleach out the stamp marks and re-use them. It's amazing when you're poor and desperate what ideas you can come up with to still publish your zine.

Oh, and Joe Biel, you are cracking me the fuck up.
KATE: If you're suggesting that zinesters who oppose or have reservations about stealing from corporations are immature docile children, that's a ridiculously unjust parody of their position, although I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's a common "bad boy/bad girl" attitude.

Dan10Things in the Print Zines Are Too Expensive (Duh!) wrote that he didn't understand why there wasn't just more scamming. I spoke up and told him why in my case, and, that I wasn't trying to make a judgement against "scam the man" ethics. My views on corporations, stealing from them, etc., are complex, mature, thorough and ongoing. As a libertarian I ignore and scorn many laws, and disobey what I can---ON MY OWN TERMS. Can we be "mature" enough not distort the motives of others we have ethical difference with?

Hey, I don't really want to debate my ethics versus your ethics, or to spoil anybody's fun on this forum, and frankly there are a lot more "wrongs" in this world for me to get outraged by than a few, sporadic efforts by some zinesters to scam copies from KInkos. I just don't like my motives, maturity and philosophy being trashed and distorted because I choose to opt out.


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