We’ve already heard that claims print books are making a comeback against e-books might be premature. However, there’s another form of pre-digital media whose return might surprise you—the photocopied fanzine.
Zines originated back in the pre-Internet era, when photocopying (or mimeographing) sheets of paper was the only form of distribution available to fans with low budgets. As the eighties and nineties rolled around, they were largely supplanted by BBS and Internet distribution. However, I just happened across this piece from ABC Melbourne last month stating that paper zines are seeing a resurgence. (Paul covered a similar story last year.)
Thomas Blatchford of Melbourne zine store Sticky Institute said that last month’s annual Festival of the Photocopier was the festival’s biggest “by quite a long way,” hosting more than 150 stalls.
Blatchford doesn’t think it’s just nostalgia—he suggests that a lot of zine-makers have been turned off Internet publication by all the “horrible people” on the net, who will sometimes post terrible things in comment sections.
“One of the things about publishing, particularly very personal content, is that people feel a sense of trust within the zine community,” Mr Blatchford said.
“They’re sharing things with people who will be more sympathetic than they would be if you just put it on a blog.”
The volunteer-run Sticky Institute has been in business for 15 years, and provides space and facilities for zine-makers to come in and put them together themselves.
I’m not in any position to judge whether this recent resurgence of paper zines is a fluke, but it should certainly put e-book fans on notice. If something as basic as the humble zine can stick around in an era of ubiquitous Internet, paper books are definitely here for the long haul as well.