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?