History of Media Fanzines

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Fandom: Media Fandom
See also: Zine, Zine Production, Zines and the Internet

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The practice of making zines originally came into media fandom in the 1960s from science fiction fandom, where fanzines had been a popular fan activity since the 1930s. However, the content of SF zines is very different; they are usually non-fiction, consisting of a variety of articles about fannish topics[1], whereas media fanzines often include or consist solely of fanfiction.

In the absence of any other solid medium, print fanzines are a record of what everyday people around the world were thinking and discussing before the Internet, and one way to understand trends in fandom over the period from about 1970 to the mid-1990s when access to the computer and the internet became a given.

In 1999, several zine publishers participated in an online chat discussing their history with fanzines, how fanzines were made and the impact of the Internet on fanzine production. All three parts are archived here.

Fanzines as a Genre

From Jacqueline Lichtenberg:

"Star Trek fanzines arose out of Science Fiction fandom where 'fanzines' never carried FICTION -- they were articles, and personal ramblings and letters of comment on novels, and reviews, and Q&A's with authors, and science and criticism and (best of all!) CON REPORTS!
Star Trek fanzines were started by people steeped in that tradition, but whose writers and readers wrote FICTION -- Star Trek fiction with ST characters from the aired shows, plus original characters. And that's what they published. At first many fanzines carried scripts in script format - stories that could have been filmed for TV. They had poetry, artwork, and most of all LETTERS OF COMMENT (LoCs).
At first all kinds of stories glumped together in any 'zine -- the distinguishing characteristic was the quality of the editing and demanding standards of the editors. They might be amateurs in publishing, but many were librarians or English Teachers -- people who knew story-structure and quality and were as qualified to edit fiction as any professional hired in Manhattan publishing. So the stories started good and got better and better -- surpassing in many cases stuff you could buy in Mass Market paperback.
Then a strange thing happened. With print runs topping 1,000 copies, fanzines began to differentiate on the basis of content. Paying $20 for as many words as $5 would buy in Mass Market made readers discriminating -- they wanted to be sure they would enjoy the stories before buying the 'zine. So they looked for subjects they loved -- characters featured, settings.
And fanzine publishers who footed the upfront costs and had to make them back began to invent GENRE -- one step at a time, right before my eyes, I saw market forces creating genre-rules, and I came to understand why genre exists, what it is and where it comes from.
It isn't a marketing tool some businessman invented to impose his taste on the market. It isn't a censorship tool. It arises from the READERS search for what they are willing to pay for.
If the readers searching for something to read can't recognize in the package the signs and signals that they will enjoy the contents, the publisher will lose money and not do any more things like that. If the reader thinks they'll like it, and then finds it's a dud, the reader won't buy anything that looks like that again, and a couple more tries later the publisher stops doing that." [2]

Zines, Technology, and Fans' Perception of Time and Patience

One of the more persistent complaints about buying and selling fanzines was the difficulty in getting a response from a fanzine seller (or vice versa, a response from the buyer). Letterzines and newsletters are brimming with complaints about lost letters, lost zine orders and payments, and lost fanzines. The postal service was universally reviled by fans across the world.

With the advent of email, fans grew even less patient with delays in buying and selling fanzines. Long before email accounts were universal (in the early Internet years, most fans only had email through their workplace, making its use for personal email an iffy proposition), fans complained when their emails were not answered

In 1998, one experienced fanzine buyer tried to provide context to her impatient fellow fans:
"You bet we are all spoiled with e-mail. It's very handy to check on orders and report their arrival. When I first got into fandom acquiring zines by mail was fraught with anxiety.

You found a zine advertised in a year-old newsletter, or in the back of another zine, with no idea how old the zine was. You sent off a letter of inquiry with your SASE and waited. If you were lucky the zine ed had a stack of flyers ready to hand and popped one into your envelope and put it in return mail. If not, you waited some more. When you finally got your flyer telling you the zine was available and how much it cost you wrote out a check, put it in another envelope and mailed it off. More waiting.

I would get so impatient that I went to a lot of trouble to go home for lunch to check my mail. I had all of 10 minutes to eat in but I could collect any fannish mail and have any zines waiting when I came home. Sometimes you waited a loooong time, with no word what was going on. Was it lost in the mail? Did your check get there? How would you know if there was a postal problem? Should you bother the editor with another letter? I Want It Now! Then one day there was a big box on the porch containing most of the extant Ashton Press zines. Oh joy, oh rapture. They have more advertisements in them, so out go the SASEs and the dreamy round continues.

As I became more familiar with media fandom and zine publishing I figured that many of the long waits were for zines to be reprinted. I was catching up on all the back issues of some long-running B7 gen zines and the editors had to wait to batch orders to make it possible to reprint a particular title. Bill Hupe was a godsend to new fans since he kept zines in print and filled orders very quickly. We will not see his like again, because it was a full-time job for him. Few fans can affford to do that."[3]

Critics, Critics Everywhere

It seems to be a constant that fans look back at the good old days, and find fault with the new. The zine world is no different.

From a fan in 1999:
"I also recall, in the 80's, that the big complaint from some of the early zine publishers was that the newer zines were poorly edited. Having read the earliest stuff, I could see what they meant, because that early stuff was so tightly and perfectly written. Not a word out of place. But the subject matter of the early stuff seemed so... esoteric. There wasn't much that seemed to be stated very directly. So, I didn't give much credence to all those complaints; I loved the new stuff I was reading. Now, a dozen years later, I find myself thinking (and sometimes saying), 'Gee, online stories have minimal editing, if any at all. This new generation of fans doesn't appreciate anything about the craft of writing. They don't even understand what quality is. What's fandom coming to?' <vbg>"[4]

Communal vs Professional Publication

Fanzines have often been described as communal in nature, with an emphasis on inclusion. In sharp contrast, commercial publications focus on sales by banking that popular themes and (presumably) quality products will motivate buyers to part with their cash. In reality, fanzines straddled both worlds, performing a difficult balancing act. The higher the submission standards for stories, the fewer writers (and the fewer of their friends, and in turn readers and buyers). Lower standards could, on the other hand, drive away buyers. Word of mouth meant everything to fanzine publishers and a single bad zine review could tank zine sales. This all took place against a fandom backdrop of embracing the principles of IDIC and one can easily see why publishing fanzines could take on an almost schizophrenic quality. In most cases, the communal, inclusive side won out. This can be seen in the way fanzine publisher would 'nurture' other zines by offering other fanzine editors free ads or including their flyers . In a world were the written word was the main means of communicating fan to fan and the story-teller the 'star', more zines meant a greater fan community.

In his book Textual Poachers, Henry Jenkins explains:
"As Constance Penley (1991) notes, fanzine editors are torn between competing impulses toward "professionalism" (the development of high technical standards and the showcasing of remarkable accomplishments) and "acceptance" (openness and accessibility for new and inexperienced writers). Push comes to shove, professionalization gives way to acceptance; even the most polished zines occasionally include work that falls outside their overall standards but represents the fledgling efforts of new fans. Any fan who writes stories has a good chance at publication, since most zine editors struggle to find enough acceptable material to fill their zines and take pride in their receptiveness to new contributors. In fact, many fans turn to writing to support their zinc-buying habits: contributors get a free copy of the published zines. Women who have low prestige jobs or who are homemakers can gain national and even international recognition as fan writers and artists; fan publishing constitutes an alternative source of status, unacknowledged by the dominant social and economic systems but personally rewarding nevertheless."

This is not to say that fanzine editors would publish any story that a fan writer submitted. Or that they would not edit the stories they did accept. It meant, however, that within fandom there was a trend towards inclusion which is reflected in the perennial and ongoing debate over the nature of reviews and the role that concrit and feedback should play in fannish culture.

""Letters of Comment" are expected to be "constructive criticism," phrased in supportive, "non-hurtful" language and to reflect the shared interests of readers and writers. Although they can serve as weapons in ongoing "fan feuds," these letters are more often acts of friendship, endorsing new writers or providing suggestions for how contributors might further develop their talents."[5]

The Decline in the Number of Zines Published

One fan did some research and created this table for the article The Legacy of K/S in Zines: 1991-1995: Publisher by Publisher

The arrival and accessibility of the internet, among other things, led to a profound and lasting decline in zine production. But this decline hit different fandoms at different speeds. Older fandoms with many years of zine production, such as K/S, The Professionals and others maintained zine production longer. Different fandoms tried different strategies throughout the late 90s and early 2000s to accommodate fans who were acting out more of their fannish life online.

And even before the world wide web, fans noticed a drop-off in number of new zines.

  • there were a number of complaints by fans in early 1985 in the pages of the Starsky and Hutch letterzine Between Friends about the lack of zines published.
  • from a 1988 issue of On the Double, there was complaint from a writer/fan about lack of submissions to zines: "I hear complaints from all over fandom that zines aren't getting enough submissions."
From a 1987 issue of Comlink, a fan blames the microcomputer and electronic bulletin boards, among other things:
"We have experienced the video revolution in television, movies, cable, television, video games, interactive games, role-playing games, music of all types, MTV, and other factors outside our experience. The underlying common factor in all of the above is the idea of instant gratification: why slog through a book when all one has to do is sit back and enjoy?... While the instant gratification of the video boom certainly contributes to younger fen's disinterest in picking up an SF book, the microcomputer revolution has lured many a young (mostly male) potential fan into the world of computing. The nerds were no longer considered outcasts, but could find solace in computer fandom rather than in SF fandom... The rise of microcomputers and their associated fandom may have indeed have taken the majority of our future contributing fans. While in Omaha in 1983-85, I observed many young compufen expressing themselves on the Electronic Bulletin Board Systems. BBS are, in some respects, high-tech successors to fanzines/apazines with immediate updating and continual feedback the main differences... Many of the messages left on the board discussed SF books, so it's apparent the problem isn't that the computer fen don't read, but that they don't contribute to the established outlets of SF fandom: fanzines, apas, etc..."

Why Fewer Zines? Was It Just the Internet?

The rise of the Internet is often cited as the reason print zines had declined in number; in essence, why shell out money for something that one can get for free?

One fan's thoughts:
"Once the BBS's such as GEnie and CompuServe's started popping up, slowly and surely fans moved from the long wait between printed issues to the instant gratification (and conflagration) that the world wide web provides. Nowadays, a fan who writes a story can post it to his or her website (or someone else's) with instant gratification or disappointment from its readers. Clearly, the Internet has put an end to much of the printed fanzines."[6]
In 2001, a fan created a zine and felt she had to explain what a fanzine even was to her audience:
"Do you like to have something printed on paper that you can take anywhere, read whenever you want to, as often as you want to? Do you enjoy stories written by fans, illustrated by fans? I do -- but with the rising popularity of the Internet, fanzines seem to be in short supply these days. But search no more! Here is [a brand new new fanzine featuring various members of the DS9 crew, now available. Proceeds go to charity."[7]
From a fan in 2007:
"Media fanzines, in Australia at least, have gone the way of the dodo, for the most part, as people discover the joys of the Internet... people decided that it was more fun to go on-line and choose stories by theme and character and, for that matter, write and publish their own stuff without having to go through the filter of an editor."[8]

Fewer Zines: Other Mitigating Factors

While the Internet is certainly a player in the decline in the number of zines, fans have suggested other reasons as well.

One interesting thing: Fans' perception of "fewer zines" is relative; fans have been complaining about the decline in zines since media fanzines were first created.

High Cost of Zines

A comment in 1979: A fan cites the high cost of zines as a possible reason for a decline. she writes:
"If the cost of fanzines continue to rise (current prices have been as much as $10-$15 a piece), I'm sure in the near future few fans, no matter how devoted, will be able to purchase or publish ST fanzines. [9]
A comment in 1983: A fan says:
What really burns me about all this is the astronomical rise in zine prices in the past few years. Before...1978, the most bucks.... When I [resumed buying fanzines] last year, I couldn't believe how expensive zines had become. [10]

Lack of Communication from Editors

A comment in 1985: There were some fans who felt that lack of communication from some zine editors didn't encourage writers and led to fewer zines:
There's a lot of talk going on about writing fan fiction right now, from the trials of the timid neos to the tired pros. I don't write much or often, but one problem I keep running into is unanswered queries and submissions that disappear along with the zine. Could be a lapse of etiquette on my part, but I find it difficult to keep up my enthusiasm when editors don't answer guideline questions, ignore submission ideas, or accept stories and then are never heard from again. I wouldn't say this kind of behavior is the norm, but it happens often enough for me to wonder how committed editors of new zines are.. [11]

The Decline of the LOC

A comment in 1988: Jacqueline Lichtenberg blames the decline of the LoC. She has a long letter in On the Double commenting on rejected fan fic, LoCs and the difference between letterzines, review zines and LoCs:
Lately, I've been hearing from established writers that Trekdom has lost the habit and art of the LoC... Faneds ceased publishing Locs because zine prices skyrocketed, so LoC writers ceased writing them because there was no free copy to be won by doing a good job on a LoC, so new writers no longer had incisive reader commentary about published stories to study and learn writing from, faneds no longer had a running commentary on their own editorial practices to keep them polite in their rejections, and as a result the quality of zine submissions has fallen and zine eds are baffled and offended by that fall in quality. Meanwhile, to make matters worse, the upfront investment in publishing a zine is going up and up, and the zine buyers are totally spoiled by the number of professional-level writers working in the zines... Zine eds are trying to revive the vitality that we used to have in zine fandom, but which we lost when we lost the LoC column and the free-issue for a published LoC policy. With our feedback look cut like that, faneds are getting ulcers, writers are depressed, and the readers are starving for good reading. Letterzines and review zines don't do the job because the letter writer has to consider that many of the readers haven't read the stories being discussed. Letterzines and review-zines consist of people expressing their own opinions, usually without reference to what anyone else in the issue is saying, or to what was said in the previous issue. Perceptive and in-depth discussion of a work which all the readers of the zine have also read, argument over various points in the work, so that the LoC column reader can see all sides of the issue, is just missing.

Proliferation of Professional Fannish Goods

A comment in 1988: A fan suggests the proliferation of professional fannish goods has had an impact on zine production and sales.
One of the things that struck me most powerfully about the dealers' room at Midcon was that the number of fan publications had dropped, and what there were didn't seem to be selling particularly well. In the early days, it was all we had, and we bought everything. Now there is a such a proliferation of merchandise -- novels, toys, pins, calendars -- that by the time a fan has purchased just a few of these, there is simply no cash left for the fan publications. [12]
A comment in 1998: A fan blames the many pro books:
The enormous production of zines has dried to a trickle. Of course, now we have the official novels packing out bookshop shelves so I guess the drive to continue the all too short original series was satisfied and fan fiction didn't seem necessary any more. I don't blame the Internet — this trend began when new Trek series started to appear. [13]

Declining Quality

A comment in 1988: A fan suggests that it is declining quality that doesn't bode well for zines.
We spend so much money on zines nowadays, only to find very little of quality between the covers. [14]
Joan Verba talks of this supposed decline in Boldly Writing:
... some Star Trek fan fiction writers [like sf writers before them], reached a certain level of competency, submitted to professional markets instead. Of those who still wrote fan stories, some, after Star Wars, wrote only for other 'media' fanzines. Either way, Star Trek fanzines gradually lost some of their best writers, and these could not be easily replaced. A resurgence of professional-level fan writers would not take place until the Internet era. [15]

High Cost of Zines Combined with Declining Quality

A comment in 1989: A fan suggests the declining quality combined with increased prices of zines:
"... zines are starting to get expensive; there are two out right now that are in the $18-20 range, and I think people deserve some hint of what they may be buying... When I started writing Trek (way back in 75 -- hand me my cane, sonny!), fandom was blessed with some editors and reviewers who were professional or near it (like Joyce Yasner, Devra Langsam, Paula Smith, Connie Faddis, Signe Landon) at what they did. Some of the writing from those old zines -- Menagerie. Spockanalia. Interphase -- still stands up beautifully against even the newer, well-written pro-Trek novels. Those were the people who scared the hell out of me — some are the people I now ask for critiques and edits. The process can be embarrassing, even painful, but putting out something good is work, not necessarily comfortable. "Star Wars" was as critical as "Trek" -- lots of the people in it were migrating Trekfen. Even in S&H fandom, where the criticism got nasty at times (which is not necessary) the writing was usually good and occasionally excellent... Sorry if this offends anyone... [but I've] never read a S&S zine that did not contain at least one story in desperate need of major repair. UNCLE fandom has both ends — very good and very awful. Before this starts to sound like terminal egotism, I'm not claiming to be an expert on fanzines. But I got spoiled on the good stuff." [16]
A comment in 2013:
While it's true that a well-edited zine is a joy forever, a lot of zines just honestly aren't that well edited. I was getting pickier and pickier about that, especially given the cost. I could read well-edited fic online for free. I started getting angry when I spent money on a zine that was poorly written or edited; it was no longer a chance I was willing to take. [17]

The Fracturing of Fandom

A comment in 1989: A fan blames the fracturing of fandom and the availability of too many choices:
I've read zines lately -- usually from small fandoms, with so few zines even miserable writing is welcomed -- where there seems to be little or no constructive criticism. [18]
A comment in 1990: A fan writes that she has seen a vast decline and writes that there:
[There] seems to be a new breed of fan emerging over the past five years... [one] who has no knowledge of, or interest in, fannish traditions and things fannish like zines... [then pro publishers realized] there's gold in them there fannish hills and flooded the market with goods, and this new generation of fans lapped them up. [19]

Increased Production Expectations

A comment in 1991: A fan comments that increased production expectations are partly to blame:
In the ancient time (a more civilized age?), it seemed that the second thing a new fan did was start a new zine. Not all were quality products, needless to say, but they existed. Have the newer fans no inclination to take that route -- or is it that entry into an established fandom (with "established rules" and so forth, half of which aren't worth the hot air they're spoken with) is simply too intimidating? The cry I always hear is that it costs an arm and a leg to produce a zine these days. True-but, in relative terms and keeping inflation in mind, it was hardly any less expensive 'way back when. Everything costs more these days than it did ten years ago, not just zine production I wonder if part of it is the "production values" syndrome ... the few surviving zines are high-quality products (arrived at through long practice along with trial and error), and fandom has become intolerant of zines which don't measure up to the existing standard. If that's part of the reason, then we probably have no one to blame but ourselves for the scarcity of the product--the old thing about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. The existing zines deserve the praise they get for appearance, etc. -it's the visible result of hard work on the part of the editor. But perhaps we've managed to give the impression that nothing less is acceptable, that any editor not capable of such quality work will be tarred and feathered. [20]

Too Many Zines, Too Many Choices

A comment in 1991: One fan feels that there are too many zines, and in that sense, this means the herd needs to be culled:

I think that in addition to the popularity of multi-media zines, one of the problems K/S is having is that there are too many K/S zines for the fandom to support. K/S has never had so many titles. It's not surprising that no zine is selling as briskly as it used to and that all zines are having trouble getting enough material to fill an issue. The same few editors are proliferating K/S titles trying to find the one that will sell, and it's got to stop. Let each editor pick one K/S zine to keep afloat, and all K/S zines will be that much more viable. [21]

Aging Fan Population

A comment in 1991: A fan speculates that there are fewer zines because of an aging fan population:
... the average age in fandom seems to be creeping up towards the mid-30s... and fanzine publishing is slowing down as more of the people engaged in it devote more time to family and job responsibilities. [22]

Lack of Physical Space

A comment in 2013 from a fan who cites lack of physical space:
I was almost out of shelf space (which also means "I had zero room to add more bookshelves"). Seriously, huge consideration; I know lots of people go the plastic-tub route, but I didn't have any place to put those, either. I couldn't just randomly buy zines and assume they could fit anymore; I had to consider whether I could store them or not. [23]

Proliferation of Photocopy Machines

From 1993: The increasing ease and availability of copy machines caused some zine publishers to question the viability of the craft. Fans who, in the past, were dependent on the ability of others to produce zines could now run out to the local Kinkos and make their own copies. This, in turn, reduced the need for originals, and sent costs up for publishers. From one of the many Open Letters that year:
In essence, I and a lot of other editors are sick to death of all the zine pirating that's going on these days. I'm not even referring to the "pro" pirates (whose names I don't _need_ to mention, since they've become synonymous with pirating). I'm talking about "the Kinko's crowd"--those fans who think it's perfectly all right to trot themselves down to Kinko's (or whatever other copy shop is in the vicinity of a convention) and make multiple copies of brand new zines for friends, relatives, distant acquaintances, and their pet cat... So what this all comes down to is that those of you who belong to "the Kinko's Crowd" are directly responsible for the downfall of zine publishing. You don't have to like it and you can all get together and say what a bitch I am for bringing it to your attention, but it doesn't alter the facts. Every in-print zine you copy is destroying editor's ability to produce new zines. [24]

The Professionals Fandom and Sharing

A comment in 1995: A fan blames, among a number of other things, The Professionals fandom:
In 1988 editors were making zine runs of 250 to 300 copies per issue and selling them within a year. Slash fandom had not splintered into the tiny fandoms that exist today. (Forever Night, Highland, The Wild Wild West, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea etc.) Due to the splinting, and boredom of the fans jumping from one fandom to other, K/S fandom has grown smaller. Editors have reduced their run to 150 to 200 for a first run of a zine to accommodate the shrinking fandom base. I believe that with the advent of the Professional fandom, where for the first 5 years, the only way to have anything to read was to use the "Library." Copying from the Library was the only way to have stories, because they were very few published zines in this fandom. Copying did not seem like such a bad idea to many fans, and unfortunately it was carried over to other fandoms. And in 1990 when many of us faced a downsizing in our professions, something had to give in our budgets. Usually it was a hobby. Zine sales stalled, and have never recovered from the "non-depression" of the early 1990's. Fans learned how to share their zines with each other in order to get their fix, and instead of each fan buying the same zine, a circle was formed in order to have the most zines for the money.

Government Meddling

A comment in 1995: A fan in Australia cites government meddling and The Viacom Crackdown:
Viacom closed down Trek fanzines in Australia, one of the few countries where there isn’t a technicality in the law that allows them to continue. [25]

Lack of Visibility

A comment in 1996: There were apparently fewer zines ads submitted to adzines and letterzines:
As far as I know CT is the only letterzine for K/S fandom and I thought I would find ads for all new zines there. So, please, editors, place your ads in CT when a new zine is out. We the readers, are no telepaths!! We can only order if we know about new zines!!" The editor of this letterzine interjects: "Just a note - I have to constantly on the lookout for new zines then I beg, plead for the editors to send me the ads for the zines - [K R] are you reading this? She has two new wonderful zines out!! The non response of editors is also holding up On the Double as new zines ads are not being submitted." [26]

The Bad Economy

A comment in 1996: The editorial in Full Circle notes a decline in zine sales, both at MediaWest and in general, and she blames the bad economy.
The next issues are going to be later again, beause of the very, very slow rate at which zines sell these days. Yes, yes, I'll continue to do the zines, but if I'm to fund them, first my little business has to stop being a money pit, and get into profit. Either, that, or folks out there have to start buying zines again, which given the current bite of the economy is a tall order.
A comment in 1997: A fan blames the Internet for cutting in on fanzines sales by offering "free fiction," but also making fanfiction more visable to the threat that is Viacom:
Recently, the net has cut into zine production--free stories can't be beat, even if they're rarely illustrated like zines. While Viacom's crackdown on fan activities has scared off even some long-time distributors, there are still terrific zines around. [27]

Television Itself

A comment in 1998: A fan blames television [28] and the VCR:
It is the malady of the newer fans that they are brought up with TV and video and may of them cannot create Trek for themselves. [29]

Feeding Frenzy

A comment in 1998: A fan suggests that the decline of printed zine fiction is due to the voracious appetite of fan fic readers:
Here's the main reason why I love the web. If you write and read a lot (as I do), there simply aren't enough zines, and they don't come out often enough. I really doubt that people want to see three or more stories by the same writer in every issue of every K/S zine. And I don't know how K/S fans who are entirely dependent on zines survive between fixes. [30]

The Internet, Diversity, and Boredom

A fan in 1999 suggests that the Internet brought more diversity, showcasing that print zines, at least in the Kirk/Spock fandom, had gotten boring:
Many of the most active members of the current K/S printzine community became active in K/S in the early 1990s, a period when K/S was in a state of contraction following the Great K/S Expansion of the 1980s. The average K/S zine circulation had fallen from up to 1,000 to slightly more than 100. So, the "typical" member of the current crop of printfen began writing at a time when K/S fandom consisted of a small number of women, mostly in the US, mostly straight and married, who all knew one another and read and reacted to one another's stories...*Current* K/S print fandom has become so respectable and bourgeoisified that it seems to have little edge left. K/S printfen are not the underground any more, they are the mainstream, the nice straight housewives. So the freewheeling diversity and gender-bending of the net culture is not necessarily the printfan's cup of tranya. [31]

Production Standards

A comment in 2011: A fan cited clumsy binding and cite other readability issues with printed zines:
Don't get me wrong, exclusive art? New fic? Stuff I can carry around? Stuff that won't spontaneously disappear on me when an archive folds or I lose all of my bookmarks to a virus? All great things! By all rights I should adore them. But as I look at the ones I own, I just don't feel the love. They're too large--I have to lay them flat and squint and crane my neck to read them. Most of the ones I own have those horrid comb bindings, so I can't flip them around like a spiral notebook to hold easily. Space and formatting issues can also make them really annoying to read (My vision is terrible, so readability is a huge honkin' deal to me). It's petty, but it irks me. [32]

Bad Editors

One zine publisher, Randy Landers, blames the internet and a bad editor:
I had gone through too many editors for our [zine name] and one of them in particular had simply exhausted my patience. She wanted Orion Press to serve as her personal vanity press, and she wanted to publish the stories simultaneously in print as well as on-line. The simple economic fact of the matter is that fanzines need to pay for themselves (fanzines never make money), and posting the stories limits the sales of the zines. She demanded the 'right' to post her fan fiction to her own website, and I told her she had to wait for a year before doing so. She... kept posting her material to her website anyway. This is one of the things that kept driving her zines' sales down, and she kept driving away contributors. [33]

In conclusion, the decline in the number of print zine created was due to a many factors. Fanzines that were continuously kept in print competed against new releases. As zines began to have less and less art, fans were less willing to continue to pay the same price for zines that were “walls of text.” And, as fandom moved away from central fandoms in the 1980s, the market for a specific, less popular fandom would invariably be smaller. [34]

Zines and the Internet

"I hate that it's not OK...for fan authors to sell their fan fic," an anonymous post to Fandom Secrets discussing the negative attitude towards fanzines that had developed by the early 2000s. To read the complete discussion, go here (PDF file will open)
Main article: Zines and the Internet

The arrival of the Internet had a profound effect on existing print zine fandom.

As fanzines faded from fannish life, a few newer fans who had only seen fan fiction online developed a negative, almost hostile attitude towards the buying and selling of fanzines suggesting they were, among other things, elitist and illegal.


  1. Camille Bacon-Smith, Science Fiction Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 112.
  2. Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Star Trek, Worldcon and Alien Romance, posted August 15, 2006. (Accessed September 14, 2010)
  3. fan posting to the CI5 List, quoted anonymously with permission.
  4. Venice Place, accessed 12.15.2010; webcite
  5. Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers page 162.
  6. from Orion Press: Questions and Answers, accessed March 10, 2012
  7. an ad for Beyond the Wire printed in Trexperts #96
  8. http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com/2007/09/vale-centero.html Sue Bursztynski Blogspot], posted 1.2007, accessed 9.2011
  9. In Interstat #23 (September 1979)
  10. from Datazine (1983)
  11. in response to another fan's complaint about the lack of zines lately, from Between Friends #8, March 1985
  12. from IDIC #1
  13. from STAG #131
  14. from #7/8 (1988) issue of On the Double
  15. from Boldly Writing
  16. from Jan Lindner in The Blackwood Project #4
  17. from December meme: Zines by Arduinna, posted December 4, 2013
  18. from Jan Lindner in The Blackwood Project #4
  19. from Star Trek Action Group #94
  20. Southern Enclave issue #28, June 1991.
  21. from The LOC Connection #27
  22. from Comlink #47
  23. from December meme: Zines by Arduinna, posted December 4, 2013
  24. an excerpt from Open Letter to Fandom by Alexis Fegan Black Regarding Zine Pirating. For other similar letters in 1993, see Open Letter.
  25. http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com/2007/09/vale-centero.html Sue Bursztynski Blogspot], posted 1.2007, accessed 9.2011
  26. from Come Together #6
  27. from Now Voyager #18
  28. which is ironic, considering the original medium of Star Trek
  29. from STAG #132
  30. from The K/S Press #21
  31. from A 1999 Interview with Judith Gran
  32. comment by dorothy_notgale on LJ [1], July 17, 2011
  33. Orion Press, accessed 12.7.2010
  34. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed March 3, 2012.
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