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I COULD say I like trading zines, and yes, in a sense I do, but it may be more accurate to say I like MAIL, whether it be zines or letters. I like APA's and zines with a large letters section and rants and opinions. I'm not a punk, so I don't relate a lot to the subject matter, but I love the density , the "packedness" and sense of community of SLUG & LETTUCE, and wish there were more zines like it on my interests.

I always have TRADE in my reviewer information for review zines. Sometimes I'll even put in "Tape Trade" or "Barter". Maybe I should just say, or also say, "The Usual". I get very few trades in the mail, but that's a okay. Better only a few trades from people who sincerely think they may like your zine, than getting a trade out of sense of duty.

Problem is, trading seems to have gotten riskier, and not just trading, but ordering zines too.

In the past 6 months or so I've order 5 zines. After long waits, I e-mailed or tried to e-mail them.

One said they got my zine, but didn't get any cash. The record I have said I did send cash, but I admit it's possible I forgot to enclose it. (I often send both a trade AND CASH, leaving it up to them to send me something extra. If they don't, I assume they're not into trading. Some have sent an extra zine, usually a back issue). I've sent some more cash for this zine. I'm reasonably confident they'll come through.

One said they never got my zine, and I'm 99.99% sure my memory of sending it to them, also with $4 cash, isn't a false one. I told them if they couldn't find my zine or cash payment, they don't have to send me anything, since in all fairness, so far I haven't tracked down my copy of the order note, which I almost always save. We'll see what happens on this one.

Two people haven't answered my e-mails, and they haven't been returned by "Mailer Daemon" either. One is a pretty long-running and popular zine. Well, maybe this person's on vacation and will get back to me. The other I've read has had website problems which I guess may be a good excuse.

One of my e-mails to somebody I sent $5 months ago has been returned by Mailer Daemon, saying the e-mail address is invalid. I've checked it's spelling I got in the zine it was reviewed in and it looks correct to me. Maybe I'll have to go the old fashioned route and send a post card---but I know from experience that doesn't usually work very well either.

So, without meaning to sound peevish, I've tried trading and sending e-mail and working it out in the spirit of Zine Trading, but haven't gotten much out of it.

I can see the logic of sending e-mails beforehand, but I'm not sure how that would necessarily have prevent any of this. I could have sent an e-mail, and they still may have said they didn't get your zine or cash. I'm not saying they're dishonest, maybe just disorganized, or over their head in paperwork.

I think the physical-mail way of zining should be self-sufficient and functional. We shouldn't HAVE to e-mail first, and we shouldn't have to e-mail OR SEND POSTCARDS afterward. I know there are mistakes and foul-ups, but ordering zines shouldn't be so much work and hassle.

On Trading Psychology:

I actually send out so few of my zines for trade because I always suspect the person getting them may not really like them and be annoyed with having to actually trade. I wonder if many other zinesters hesitate to trade for the same reason. Despite the expressed enthusiasm for trading AS AN IDEAL, is there a widespread hesitancy among zinesters to actually DO trades? If so, besides what I've mentioned, are the reasons?


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Replies to This Discussion

Those really sound like some horror stories...but I'm glad you bring this issue up. I'm not that experienced with trading myself but I really was of the mindset that I'd be up for sending my zine out to everyone and anyone. Call it naivety or maybe even innocence but the fact that they'd reject it or not want to trade back didn't much occur to me.

I dunno about the people not getting back to you though. That's really a shame. I know I move around a lot in my town and I don't have money for a PO box so Email is a good way for me to get my current address to others quickly. I think email in tandem with post is just as ideal...

But I agree with you that we shouldnt have to email first or like try to follow up on things. People are simply slackers/irresponsible (myself proudly included).
I have a list up trades I need to send. But I'm getting there...and the lists won't go missing. I don't like hearing people didn't receive my things or that they've sent something to me that didn't arrive.

Well, having been trading and ordering zines for a while, they're probably only a little worse than usual, unfortunately.

My POB is only $36 a year. It's a small one, that large or stiff 9 x 12 envelopes won't fit into, but that's not really a problem, since all you have to do is take the yellow notice they put in it up to the desk and ask for any large packages you get.

I don't want to scoff at your concern about POB expenses. They seem to vary wildly, the USPS having such big government monopoly and all, and everybody has their own subject sense of what's "expensive". But if you're really into zines, how much does it compare to the cost of other entertainments and luxuries you indulge in in life--- Restraurants, movies, books, road trips, etc., etc.? My dial-up internet costs me $15 a month or $180 a year. (I'm out in the boondocks and high-speed would cost me 4 times that). I like zines and mail in many ways better than the Net (though I admit I enjoy and make some pretty good use of the Net too), but as I've said, it's hard to put a numerical value on enjoyment, and maybe even convenience. (P-mail often seems simpler and more relaxed than the Net for me).

Have you thought of sharing a box with one or more people---friends?

Have you asked what a POB would cost? What about private mail boxes?

A question for everybody---How much do you pay for a POB?

Most or many zinesters seem to be left-leaning. Why not organize, co-operate and collectivize a lot of the expenses we have as zinesters? Tossing out the idea, I guess, is easy. Getting them working and keeping them going I guess is harder.

I'm pretty new to it all, so the only trading I have done has been through here and it's been excellent, but I can see how completely frustrated you must be. I'm actually finding simular sorts of problems with the art world in a way. People will buy my stock with the agreement that they will pay on consignment or outright, then the money never comes and I spend forever chasing them up. One shop I visited about two months ago and they had sold everything I gave them, but still no money. Frustrationtown.

Hehe sorry, just needed a rant today.

My only hesitation with trading zines is the postage really. My zines are larger than a standard envelope so it always costs at least $4, usually more. But I've worked out a system. I have a little basket full of envelopes I have prepared, than I send them off as money comes in. Maybe some of your traders are pov like me :P
I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that yesterday I got one of the zines I ordered---the one I sent the e-mail that was returned as invalid.

Looking at the copy of the request note I sent I see it was dated Oct. 19 and the postmark on the zine's envelope was December 4, which works out roughly to 6 weeks. Somebody wrote me that that's pretty much the standard response time, so maybe I shouldn't have complained so early.

The thing about international postage is that people are lazy and don't have the time. In Australia I can easily throw on one or two stamps and the little sucker will get where it's going. Internationally, I have to calculate the weight and the dimensions and then visit the post office. It's really quite difficult for someone as lazy as I am. I wouldn't like to think 6wks is general. That would be a sad world. Plus I receive things within days of ordering them around the world. But sometimes I wait months.
i've sent some copies of my zines to a bookshop,(to sell on consignment) that deals in zines last year & still haven't got any money probably never will,i've emailed them lots of times & they said they'll look into it ,nothing it sort of puts you off doing it again
when I have problems to send as soon as possible a letter answering that i got the zine someone sent to me, the email help me to warn the person who send me a zine that I recieved it. but the total silence is a really angry thing. the greater problems with letters i have was really when i sell zines. when I don´t send registred, I ALWAYS have a problem, the person write me back telling that don´t recieved the zine. even when the person have PO boxes! so i prefer only trade and good luck. send one zine to a new address and forget. when a letter come to me, i answer. so i go on this way.


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