Think-y things about zines and fic and all

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Title: Think-y things about zines and fic and all
Creator: byslantedlight
Date(s): February 26, 2009
Medium: journal post
Fandom:
Topic: fandom and profit, zines, fanfic, fiction archives
External Links: Think-y things about zines and fic and all; archive link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Think-y things about zines and fic and all by byslantedlight is part of a 2009 discussion regarding fandom and profit.

It is a response to a fan selling a fanfic as an ezine: see Changes.

Specifically-Related Posts in This Discussion

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

Wandering around lj as you do, I came across some interesting discussions/thoughts about zines and fic and different types of access to such things, and I'm all curious now about what Pros-y people think about them, so... I thought I'd post here! Plus, coffee-break! Plus, I'm in a very think-y Pros-y mood this week, what with all the brilliant discussions etc going on at the moment. So here's another one! *g*

There's a poll here, which asks an interesting question: If I was to take all my fanfic off the internet, and offer it in downloadable e-zine form instead, available for $20 (US$ I presume, so about £14 at today's exchange rate) - would you buy it?. It's not specific to the poll-er, it's a hypothetical question - if people did that, would other people spend money on it?

There actually are sites offering downloadable Prosfic zines, which is all fab and good because I love the Oblique zines that are available online to print if I want, and I like having the Dialj Bound zines on my shelves ready to pull off and read while curled up in bed (little bairns that they are... *g*), but other people are charging money for downloadable zines (you have to click on "The Professionals" in the sidebar to see the Pros zines in question - some are downloadable, some aren't), which strikes me as a little different to selling/"distributing" paper zines, because there's presumably no overhead to letting people download a zine - at least no more than anyone else in Pros/fandom pays for their internet connections... *g* So where does that US$8.00 go? What are people actually paying that distributor for doing? Cos isn't the whole point that distributors of fandom don't actually make any profit from it, cos that would be illegal? Do the authors see any of that money? Artists? Wouldn't that be illegal too? Isn't it going against the whole spirit of fandom for distributors/publishers/authors etc to do that?

I can go with the idea that paper zine publishers are paying for printing etc costs (although... well, never mind that now, it's a whole other controversial discussion!) and that it would cost someone to print out a zine, and besides it's fab to have the cover and the art and the binding, and that's what the publisher has done for us - put it all together (presumably they don't get paid for this bit, that's fannish love like the rest of us) and had it printed and bound (the bit that they have to pay a professional printer for and thus are charging us for). But putting a fic/zine up online, which alot of people do for free - why are they charging for that? And in the case that I've linked to above, I don't believe that you can print off the e-zine even if you do pay for it, because they're security protected only to be available on screen. So..?

I dunno - what do other people think of this? Is there a difference between distributing things via paper publication and via e-fic publication? How are the authors affected by this (are any of you reading this? *g*)? I know there's at least one zine being sold at that website that I've hoped might "time out" and come online one day, because I really can't afford full-priced zines very often, but if it's now available for download, then will that ever happen? Did the authors give permission for their zines to be sold as downloads? What's going on..?

Obviously this must be happening in a much broader context in other fandoms, people charging money for downloadable fic, or else the poll presumably wouldn't have arisen, but... is this really the next trend? Just a glitch? Do people think it's okay?

And I know this is all a bit meta, so I'm pressing Post with due trepidation since I'm not locking this yet, but... I am curious about what people think in general...

Excerpts from Some Responses

[msmoat]: Huh. I hadn't heard about e-zines. I wonder if that will survive? Because, no, I probably wouldn't pay for an e-zine, nor would I want to participate in that as a writer. I do love paper zines, but in that case someone else has gone to the trouble and expense of printing, binding, typesetting, illustrations, etc. Which I love and will pay for--and I am well aware of the huge cost involved in doing a good job there. I have no interest in printing off my own zine--I haven't got a good color printer for illustrations, for instance, and no binding equipment. And, in fact, it would only make me really, really annoyed to have to pay twice (my own expenses for printing/binding). If I were to read online? Well, if the e-zine comes in PDF, that's annoying, as I generally find PDF hard to manipulate and read on my laptop. As with everything, it would all depend on the actual exaple. *g* But it does seem dodgy to me.
[byslantedlight]:I love paper zines too, as you know, although I'd also like to see more new ones available for free download/printing online, a la Oblique. I know this is precluded for some of the existing zines because there are authors who will only publish on paper and not at all online, which is a whole other thing, and I have no problem with paying for someone else to do the awkward business of printing and binding for me on occasion, but I also don't see why we can't just print zines ourselves if we're so inclined. If the idea is to share fic, in ways that let us be most comfortable, then I bet there could be a happy compromise there. But it's the question of payment for these e-zines that throws me, and the fact that printing is actually disabled for them - so actually you're not paying twice, you're actually paying for a less versatile product which you can't print out anyway... So what is it that the distributor is making money for doing? And what is that they're doing above and beyond what the writer is doing?
[msmoat]: What? You can't print at all? I missed that point. Huh. That's...anti-fannish, if you ask me. I'm willing to pay for someone to make me something pretty on paper (kind of like paying someone to make me pretty clothes when I know my own clothes-making skills are, er, poor. *g*) But pay for an e-design? That I can't even print out? This is not my world. If someone wants to do that in Pros, well, I'll glut the market with really good stories. *g*
[byslantedlight]: Yeah, I think it's anti-fannish too... It's so... ephemeral somehow, as if you're paying for a story that must remain only in your own head... I know that not everyone wants to print things out, and fair enough, but... In that case what are they paying for? Alot of people seem to think that the high cost of e-zines is what makes producing print-zines possible, but I don't think that's very fair either... And yes! Let's glut the market with good stories, for free! (You know, I think there's a whole movement afoot to do just that... *g*)
[biani]: I don't believe that you can print off the e-zine even if you do pay for it, because they're security protected only to be available on screen. So..?

Ahem, you can - it´s all a matter of certain (legal) programmes. Just because Adobe delivers a copy protection for their product doesn´t mean you can´t cancel it.

As to buying zines and coming from a fandom who basically exists without paper zines (the few available are mostly online by now) I swore to myself that I would never buy a zine, ever. Coming to Pros I had to revise that as I got hooked on Kate McLeans stories. I bought and borrowed all zines with her stories, because I HAD to read them (or go insane). She´s the only writer from whom I´d buy a zine at the moment though.
[byslantedlight]: See, Kate MacLean isn't an author who's online though - I think she's got one story online, and she's chosen not to go in that direction, and I don't have a problem with that.

I adore paper zines, and although I frown at what's charged for some of them, I do and have and will buy them - because I much prefer to read from paper. I won't buy from zine sellers who seem to be charging very high prices though...

So... what about paying approx £15.00 (based on the price of another novel-length e-zine being sold) for a novel-length fanfic that isn't available any other way? Would it depend on who it was by? What about the whole copyright issue, and the idea that fanfic is morally supposed to be available for free/without profit (because otherwise royalties should be due to the original creator of the character/series)?
[biani]:So... what about paying approx £15.00 (based on the price of another novel-length e-zine being sold) for a novel-length fanfic that isn't available any other way? Would it depend on who it was by? What about the whole copyright issue, and the idea that fanfic is morally supposed to be available for free/without profit (because otherwise royalties should be due to the original creator of the character/series)?

Hmmm... can´t go to bed without answering your questions first or I´ll be thinking about them when I actually should be sleeping :-). As my preferred kind of stories revolve around h/c, physically and/or emotionally there are certain authors who repeatedly if not constantly write this kind of stories, see Kate McLean. Now if a zine would contain a certain theme like h/c I would be very tempted to buy it, no doubt about that. But as I have literally dozens of zines standing in my shelf right now I know that they are usually not about a theme, not even always slash only. So that won´t work.

The second way for me would be if a preferred author fills a zine all alone with their story/or stories. Kate McLean comes to mind again, although I found some good authors in zines lately like Maiden Wyoming (and I don´t mean her novellength zine as AUs don´t work for me) but her other, much shorter stuff.

So yes, if I want a zine I´ll pay the price, but there´s really, really hardly anything that could tempt me right now. And like I said earlier I am used to free online reading and that makes it hard for me to accept that some people don´t like to see their stories online/or want to make money off them via paper zines.

And still I believe everyone should do what they see fit. It´s also very much a fandom thing. The older fandoms couldn´t exist without zines, whereas the newer ones founded in the internet era went almost completely online right from the start. So if you would ask my fellow X Filers about fanfic and if it should be available for free they would say "of course, what else!"
[byslantedlight]: Sorry - I hope you realise that I was talking about e-zines, rather than paper zines! I'll buy what paper zines I can (as long as I'm fairly confident in my own mind that they'll be worth their price) because I adore curling up with a good zine in bed, and I hate reading online!

But e-zines seem to me to be completely different to print zines. The only reason I can see to charge money for them, is to make a profit from them, which is something that fandom traditionally doesn't do. For me fandom is all about sharing what we enjoy and love, and I adore that part of it - so much nicer than the commercialised "real world"! Oh, actually another suggested reason for charging for e-zines is to subsidise the print zines, but that doesn't seem fair to me...

And of course it's all about people doing what they see fit - like anything else, if people don't like it, they won't support it, and hopefully it will vanish (although that's not always the case with things, unfortunately...) I just wondered what people thought of the new trend... *g*
[biani]: Don´t worry, I was talking about zines in general, but then everything I said applies to paper and e-zines as well as they both don´t appeal much to me. I have my little netbook that I got especially for Pros reading in bed at night without disturbing hubby with the light on and I would be seriously miffed if e-zines would become a serious reading alternative in our fandom. For me zine distributing is money making and this is not something I support when in other fandoms I can get ALL the stories online for free.
[byslantedlight]: Hmmn - for me there's a big difference between printed zines and e-zines, because the former began (as you said) when that was the best way to share stories, and they were about sharing - ultimately that's where online fandom came from, really. And e-zines could be wonderful - like the Oblique zines, nicely laid out and ready for printing if you want that, and not if you don't - or else just nicely laid out specific collections of stories - either novels, or anthologies of various types. But it seems to me that this practice of paying for e-zines takes the worst of both worlds - the exclusivity of zines to people who can afford them (then as well as now, really) as well as the fact that they're profit-making rather than shared-for-cost... The best writers usually didn´t participate in zines. Ah, I'd say it was the other way around in Pros, probably because of it's origins and history - some of the best writers are exclusively in zines, even some who write now...
[hambelandjemima]: I'm still fairly new to this fandom thing *g*, but here's my twopence worth.

First off to your original question - there's the question of where that money goes and the fact that someone is making money off someone else's copyrighted characters. My answer would have to be no, I wouldn't pay for them because A) there's a principle involved and B) the reason I read so much fanfic is because it's free and easily available on the net. I'm not being tight. This is a hobby that I can enjoy without feeling guilty because it's not costing us anything.

Is there a difference between distributing things via paper publication and via e-fic publication?

Yes. The very reason that you've given, imo. Paper publication means that someone has paid out money for printing. An e-fic, well it could be argued that someone has taken the time to put it in a downloadable format, but to my mind that's different as there has been no financial outlay.
[byslantedlight]: Yeah, with you about the idea of compensating someone for their financial outlay - so that when you pay them it becomes your financial outlay, as if you'd printed and bound it yourself, effectively. The problem I have is when publishers and especially distributors seem to charge so much more than what their financial outlay is - or when they start including things like compensation for their time and effort and attendance at cons in order to sell their zines, etc etc... I love the gift economy of fandom, and I hate the idea that it might be commercialised like everything else in the world...
[callistosh65]: Paper zines, yes I'll pay for. Ezines no. We float around in such a grey copyright area anyway in fandom, and I have this amateur-ethic concept stamped in me somewhere, kinda like the Olympics.*g* Where are the physical overheads in an ezine? How is the amount charged arrived at? You are charging people for the abstract concept of access, rather than of paper and printing costs.
[byslantedlight]: You are charging people for the abstract concept of access, rather than of paper and printing costs. Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Very nicely worded, and just what I have a problem with! That fandom is about sharing the love, and if you start charging to make a profit for sharing that love, then... well, is it really love? *g*
[inamac]: This question came up a few months ago on Potterfandom - where the copyright issues are even more problematical. The consensus, I think (I can't find the links - possibly from the plagarism comms?) is that it is unacceptabel to make money from fanworks - and this practice (and the worse one of putting paper zines on sale through e-bay) needs to be discouraged. Having started in 'paper-zine fandom' I still prefer to read print versions - and would be quite happy to sell on my duplicate and unwanted old zines. I'd be more wary of selling on the electronic versions on (3" floppy!) disc - even if they were still readable on modern machines! but for internet copies - well, I'd never even consider archiving without the author's express permision. how are they to get feedback if they donlt know who is reading their story?
[lukadreaming]: E-zines don't much interest me. I don't like reading on the screen, and I certainly don't want to print out stuff when I don't need to. I believe in conserving paper and ink *g*.

I'd like to see a breakdown to justify the cost of an e-zine. I suppose someone might argue that they've bought software to produce it, but I'm not convinced you claim that back from the buyer!

I like print zines -- the best ones are labours of love with careful typesetting and gorgeous illos. I'll happily pay for those, assuming I think the editor is playing fair with costing.
[byslantedlight]: I'd like to see a breakdown to justify the cost of an e-zine. I suppose someone might argue that they've bought software to produce it, but I'm not convinced you claim that back from the buyer!

That's exactly what I'd like to see, actually (and from print-zine publishers as well, mind you). I've seen people say it's for software to secure the site, but... I mean, we all pay for things like that, just as a part of being in fandom, and giving back to all the other people who are in fandom, whose work we've enjoyed, so it seems odd that some people should charge money for that...

And you know that I adore printed zines - but as you say, the catch is that it assumes the editor is playing fair with the prices...
[erushi]: I think it really depends. The handy wayback machine thing-y pretty much means that there's little point in taking formerly-online things offline.

I might be willing to pay if I know that the person writes well, and especially if the person's a fandom friend of mine, but not $20. A couple of dollars, maybe, but no more. I've always felt that the point of fanworks was that they're meant to be fun, non-profit things to share. And even if someone counters with the example of fanartists making money off prints and paintings, well, that's the thing. Buying stuff from artists at cons leaves us with something physically tangible. We're not paying for the time, really, or the skill, but the materials which have gone into it. And, well, a token sum of appreciation for the skill and time, but not massive amounts. I'd pay $20 for a hardcopy zine of the fics, maybe, for materials + appreciation of talent, but not for a digital copy which is really just a little bit of reformatting and uploading what you already have. Even original ebook novels usually cost about $5-$7, and these are people making a living. The digital format of something legally non-profitable shouldn't be costing any more.

As for third party agents selling dowloadable zines, well... If the bulk of it was from a very, very old zine currently only available in hardcopy, I might be willing to pay more, as time etc will have had to be put into finding that zine, painstakingly scanning page after page etc. Of course, if there's something in it which I really, really want, I may be persuaded to part with my money too. (You know which fic I'm talking about.) However, I'll always wonder if the fic-writers get any royalties, because I'm not too keen on the notion of people making money of freely-given things...
[byslantedlight]: To be honest I don't think that fanartists should be charging for their work either. They're using someone else's creations at least as much as writers are (more so in some ways, because they're taking images from your head and making them solid), it's equally skilled work, and I'd say that a story is as tangible a thing to end up with as a piece of art. You can print out a story, or have it in hard copy as much as you can print off an image (actually more so, as fanartists seem to get really riled about people printing off their work, while writers expect it) or have a hard copy picture. Has any more money gone into an artist making prints of a picture, than someone producing a zine full of stories? I honestly don't think so... Good point about original ebooks not costing nearly as much as fannish ebooks seem to, despite the differing legalities - although again it doesn't look like the author sees very much of that profit (see Josh's comment below)...
[byslantedlight]: Hmmn, I wonder what makes creating downloadable fics such a hassle for zine publishers, or burning them onto CD, for that matter? Don't we all do that within fandom, all the time? I can't count the fics I've uploaded (in numerous formats, I don't just mean to lj) or the dvds I've burned...

With a cd too, I think people are still getting something solid in exchange for their money, and whether or not I agree with the prices etc, that seems to me to be a reciprocal exchange. It's the downloadable thing I can't get my head around in exchange for money, because it's so ephemeral - especially if you're not supposed to be able to print them off (I appreciate that if you're tech-y enough that can be broken, or if you're lucky enough to have friends or whatever, but not everyone can do that!)

And you know that I adore zines, and do buy them (as long as I think they're worth the money being charged) - and I do know all the arguments etc about how expensive they are to create, and that publishers are all only just breaking even. I expect like anything else, that some publishers are breaking more even than others, but... *g*

Hmmn - e-zines to subsidise print zines... I dunno, that doesn't seem fair to me, especially if e-zines are being produced in the first place to make material available that some people can't afford to buy in print version... In that case they're still charging people who can't afford to pay much, for something that could subsidises the very thing that they can't afford to pay for in the first place... (leaving aside the people who prefer online versions)
[gilda elise]: Hmmn - e-zines to subsidise print zines... I dunno, that doesn't seem fair to me, especially if e-zines are being produced in the first place to make material available that some people can't afford to buy in print version... In that case they're still charging people who can't afford to pay much, for something that could subsidises the very thing that they can't afford to pay for in the first place... (leaving aside the people who prefer online versions) Talking specifically about e-zines, the two I know of that aren't tied to a print zine (one in K/S, one in UNCLE,) are both free. I'm inclined to think the only way a fandom can have free e-zines is to also have a fan who is willing to take the time to set them up. :-)
[ jgraeme2007 ]: As someone who publishes professionally?

I can see the advantage of an ezine in that, as dearly as I love zines, I'm financially strapped and postage on the overseas zines is prohibitive. And I do now commonly read ebooks -- although I prefer print greatly -- and I would be willing to pay for an ezine of something I can't afford in print. Should an ezine cost as much as a print zine? In my opinion, no. For the various reasons you cite.

But I do see the dilemma for a print zine publisher -- how can they make the ezine free but still charge for the print (and I do think they need to charge for print in order to defray all the costs -- which would be considerable in something of the size and quality of Never Far Apart, for example).

Do I think anyone should be making money on fandom? No. But I think no one should be losing money on it either, or it puts fandom participation in peril.

I would say it would make sense to charge something for the ezine simply to protect the viability of doing the print zines -- which I would hate to lose.

**one other thought -- an original, carefully edited full-length novel from a regular ebook publisher only goes for the price of a massmarket paperback, so charging $20. does seem a bit exorbitant. Especially when legit ebook publishers are debating amongst themselves whether $7.99 for a 75K ebook is perhaps highway robbery. Just as a point of interest, standard starter author royalties on ebooks range from 35 - 40%.
[byslantedlight]: I would say it would make sense to charge something for the ezine simply to protect the viability of doing the print zines

I dunno, I actually see a massive difference between e-zines and printed-zines, which means that I'll still pay for a printed-zine that I think is worth it, whether it's also available online or not - it's a whole different reading experience. I like curling up in bed with stories printed on paper, and I always will. So I don't care that the Oblique zines are available online, for example, I'll still buy them if I see them come up at reasonable prices. The key, of course, being reasonable prices... And actually it's likely to make the publisher more money if I can see what things are like online first, because I'm more likely to pay a higher price for something when I'm sure of the quality, when I'm sure that it's going to give me alot of pleasure that, for me, defrays the cost.

From conversations I've seen over the years, I think most people who buy paper zines would buy them whether they were online as well or not - you're either a die-hard for paper-reading or you're happy to read online for free, and I'm not sure there's a huge amount of cross-over either way...

Hmmn - no one in fandom should be losing money is a trickier one, for me. There are alot of people who do amazing things for fandom, without expecting for any recompense at all. I've had people send me dvds, give me zines that they'd finished with, copies of fic that they adored and wanted me to read too - all sorts of things. Our archivists (for all they're not currently as active as they have been in the past!) don't charge money for what they do, the comm mods don't expect payment for their time, and all the people who spend hours over fic/art/vids for other people to enjoy freely, don't generally expect to be paid for that time or the resources that they consume. We're all, in effect, losing money on fandom all the time. Except that we do it because we're paying each other back, enjoying each other's work and effort and generousity. So why do a few people seem to think that we owe them cash on top of it all? Maybe because they're not actually interested in our fandom at all, maybe because they don't get anything else out of it. In which case what they do is blantant profiteering, compared to what everyone else does...
[krisserci5]: Would I pay for printed zine?. . . . YES

Would I pay for a zine on disk? Just postage, mailer and cost for the disk, anymore than that is profit and not right.

Would I pay for an Ezine? No. All the work is at the author level. The little time to format the ezine should be done with fan love, not profit margins.

We exist in this grey area of legal and making money in our grey area seems wrong . . . like someone is taking advantage of us and our love of that fandom.
[loyseofverlaine]: In another fandom, I contributed to a zine that was available either as a print zine, as a CD or as an ezine, but the ezine version was much cheaper than the print. (I think $5.) I don't know what the money went for, but I think the publisher had to purchase some kind of security software to ensure that only people with permission got access to the download site.

Personally, I like print zines, and will buy them when I can afford them. There's something about paper that's just more *real* to me (yes, I was around when dinosaurs roamed the earth). I've bought a couple of zines that are already available on the net just because I like them so much I want to have them actually in my hands. On the other hand, I seem to be the rare person who has no problem with reading off a screen, and I'll happily read free on-line archives. But an ezine? It's sort of the worst of both worlds: I have to pay for it, *and* it's still on the computer, which means I get to pay for printing it too.

On top of all that, there's the time factor: there's so much available on the net I couldn't possibly run out of stuff to read.
[ byslantedlight]: I think the publisher had to purchase some kind of security software to ensure that only people with permission got access to the download site

Hmmn - but isn't that just the same as me having to purchase Word for Windows in order to write fic (which actually I can't afford to do, so I'm struggling along on Open Office, which is free and commendable, but a bloody bugger in many important ways), or Dreamweaver in order to run my fannish website, or a vidder to buy decent vidding software... Why does the publisher feel that she should be compensated for her outlay, when other fans spend their own money because it enables them to take part in fandom in the way that they want to? And if she didn't lock that fic up, then she wouldn't need the expensive software in the first place! Open it up to everyone, for free - then she wouldn't need to recoup what she's spent on security software!

I like print zines, and will buy them when I can afford them

Me too - I run a zine website, I'm quite fond of them! *vbg* And I can just about go with the huge prices that publishers ask for printed zines, on the basis that it does cost money to print and bind them. But as you say, an e-zine is the worst of all worlds - worse than you think even, because you can't actually print out the examples I linked to above - that's presumably where some of that money spent on security software goes, on locking them up so that they can't be printed out... waah!
[loysofverlaine]: I'm probably a total heretic, but I don't see a problem with a publisher making a little money (outside of the whole copyright/C&D/go to jail issue *g*). Zine publishers provide a fan product, but they have to produce that product in the real world, where businesses tend to want cash up front. So, if I were publishing a zine, I'd have to put, let's say, $2000 on my VISA card before the print shop would let me out the door with the finished product. Then I'd have to hope that in three months, or six months, or a year - or maybe never - I'd sell enough to be able to pay off the printer's bill. Unless you're independently wealthy, you can't keep carrying the freight for any length of time.
[sineala]: FYI, I am planning on (but have not yet) publishing with Requiem. (Because, well, yay, I get to have my story in a nicely-formatted zine with art and everything.) As far as I am aware, her ebook downloads do not affect the timeout; I was told that I am free to put the story up elsewhere after a year. I have not specifically asked about ebooks.

maubast is probably one of the nicest people I've met in fandom, and I'm really pretty sure she's not using the profits from ebook downloads to buy herself a new house or whatever, as has been rumored about other publishers. And I don't claim to speak for her, but I know she likes ebooks as a format in general herself, as a reader, and it is certainly a convenient way to get the fanfiction to people who can't/won't pay for the increased cost of a paper zine. But if she makes the ebook free, then who buys the paper zine?

I know we're not supposed to make money off of fandom and there is a kneejerk reaction whenever anyone does, or seems like they're going to. But, then again, there's things in fandom people do make money off -- like art. No one complains about paying for original art, as far as I can tell, or even for reproductions of it, and in a lot of cases people don't just seem to be paying for the cost of the paper, and that seems to be okay in fandom. And so people do make money off of that, right?

Right, so, I write the story for free. Because it's fun. I am not good at layout. I am not good at illustrations. I do not even know people who do illustrations. If I had to make a zine myself it would probably be copied and pasted non-justified text with stick figures drawn in the margins. It takes skill to do good layout and typesetting, really. And since those skills are reflected in the ebook version of the zine as well as the dead-tree version, I have no problem with the idea of paying for downloadable zines, and the prices there seem comparable to original fiction ebooks I have purchased, actually.

I know it's a radical view, but if fandom artists charge for art, I don't see why editors shouldn't incorporate some small fee for editing/layout, anyway, as an artistic skill. Plus, as I said, if the ebook's free, then no one buys the paper zine, and I think it's perfectly reasonable as well for the ebook to defray some of the costs of the paper zines.

(On the other hand, if the zine's timed out and is available on the web, the ebook option seems weird. But, on the other hand, presumably authors aren't offering a nicely formatted PDF with illos for free when it times out, either, so, hey, maybe someone will still want that.)

I wouldn't buy them as a reader, because I have a hell of a time reading PDFs of zines on my computer, at least the ones I have tried. My screen just isn't big enough for two-column formatting, for example. And I do think pulling previously-free fic off the web and selling it for $20 would be kind of a sleazy money-grab, but I think it's different than what Bast is doing, which is making new fic available, and at a different price, which does make a difference.

So there's my weird dissenting opinion.
[janedavitt]: I think people who prefer print would buy the printed version even if the online one was available for free. People buy zines with fic in it that is still available online after all. And I know that people do take down fic from the net when it goes into a zine because it happened quite recently with one series.

I can appreciate that with print runs, more copies printed lowers the costs, but other than that -- if less people buy the printed zine what difference would it make if there was no profit involved?

The Jean Kluge fic 'Changes' that Bast is currently offering as a download for $20 is at least 7 years old. It was originally in a zine; I don't know if it's ever been available for free.

I've never bought a zine and I'll admit I'm ignorant of the costs involved but now that they're no longer the only way of sharing fic, as they were originally, which bought them immunity in a way, I don't find it too surprising that people are asking questions about profits.

People online are used to reading fic for free and people sharing generously when it comes to time and effort. Providing a printed option for those who want it at a price that covers the cost and not a penny more is fan service and laudable. Providing fic only to those willing to pay for it and building in an (undisclosed) profit seems to me to transgress a cardinal rule; you don't make money off fans and fandom.
[byslantedlight]: No one complains about paying for original [fan]art

Oh I sodding well do! I hate that artists somehow think that either they're not breaking copyright to the same extent as writers (they're not drawing the actors, they're drawing the characters!) or that their talent is worth more than a writer's talent. It's not, they're just different talents! And actually there have been many debates and discussions about paying for fanart, and it really isn't as widely accepted as you're suggesting - far from it!

Okay, editors hopefully have some talent for putting a zine together, etc - but how is that more than the author's talent for writing the stories in the first place? Or an artists for designing the cover (and don't get me started on the fact that some artists are paid for illustrating a zine, while authors are never paid for writing the stories that make the whole zine, except for one trib copy)? Why is one deserving of financial recompense, and the other not?

Okay, fanfic writers generally write because they love it. So... publishers aren't enjoying fandom? They're not enjoying the stories, the artowork, everything that's provided for them, for free? Either they are - in which case their work as publisher should be a fair gift exchange - or else they're not, in which case what they're doing could be seen as blatant profiteering, if they're charging above and beyond the cost of actually printing and binding a zine.

Which brings me to the e-zines. What is that US$8.00 actually payment for? We all upload fic to the internet, all the time - so why should some people charge for doing it, if they're truly part of fandom? They're gaining the same enjoyment from fandom that we all are, so why shouldn't they too give something back rather than expecting financial compensation on top of it all? Unless of course, as above, they're not here to enjoy fandom, but to make money from it. That seems like a sleazy money-grab to me...
[kiwisue]: Cost of producing e-zines? Amortising the cost of your pdf program, especially if you're using Adobe. Website maintenance. A more expensive Internet package than you might require for private use. A business-type account with a file-sharing site. Cost of cover art (that being a whole other can of worms that I don't want to get into here). That's about all I can think of.
[byslantedlight]:Amortising the cost of your pdf program, especially if you're using Adobe.

Oh good, so I could be charging people for the word processing package I use to write fic (well, that I would choose to write fic if I could afford it, rather than the clumsy free one which is what I have to use now)? For the programme I use to make the Dialj Bound zines? Vidders should be charging us for their vidding software?

A more expensive Internet package than you might require for private use.

But what makes them more expensive? The add-ons that are required to create shopping baskets etc - the add ons that allow the publishers to charge money in the first place. Get rid of them, in the spirit of fandom's gift economy, and you've got rid of the need for that fancy "business account".

Cost of cover art (that being a whole other can of worms that I don't want to get into here).

Oh, I'll go into it - why should fan artists be paid for something that fan writers aren't paid for? Are they using someone else's creations to prompt their own artistry, just the same as fan writers do? Yes. Is their talent any greater/better than a fan writer's talent? No. So why should they be paid when other fannish contributors aren't?

Either fandom publishers are part of the fannish gift economy - perhaps defraying specific costs from print zines, which are excessive - in which case they're enjoying fandom and their own role is repaying that fandom with their own efforts - or they're not. And if they're not, but they're charging us for other things - making a profit, or providing them with snazzier equipment, or paying for travel and attendance to cons that we'd all like to go to - then they're simply profiteering, surely? So if that US$8.00 can't be justified by specific costs involved in uploading fic (bearing in mind that we all do it), then...?
[sc fossil]: My comment will default on the side of free choice, so I suppose I'll be the rebel here!

I feel that people have the right to chose to do ezines, or print zines or publish to the net or even to sell on Ebay. They have the right to put whatever value on the item they desire. The buyers have the right to vote on that item with their dollars (or pounds). If nobody buys, that will tell the seller that their item is not needed or wanted. I feel that fan artists have the right to sell their art for whatever another individual is willing to pay. No one is being forced to buy any of these items. Voting with your money works. It makes a statement. It's powerful in our world today.

I understand that people feel like they're not infringing if they don't make money. Or it gives them an excuse to use those characters. I suppose it makes them feel better than the "other side" and even a bit more superior that they can say, I'm using so and so's characters but I do it for free. *shrug* That doesn't bother me either because I only worry about me and my actions. I don't feel an iota of jealousy or outrage when I see fanart selling for a thousand dollars at an auction. I can't afford it, but I'm happy somebody else can.

Zines are in a huge decline. There used to be hundreds published each year, but now I don't think the entire fandom world publishes more than a few dozen. They'll be gone soon enough, as will the CDs and downloads from the looks of things. So in the end, it will work out one way or the other by people using their buying power.
[byslantedlight]: I don't feel an iota of jealousy or outrage when I see fanart selling for a thousand dollars at an auction

No, I don't feel jealous either, but I will admit to feeling somewhat upset that there are parts of fandom where commercialism has intruded over the fannish gift-economy, which is one of the things I prize most about the fannish world. In a place where the vast majority of people create and share and give purely because it makes people happy, I think it's a shame that other people want to take advantage of the love we have for our characters, and make money from it. It's bringing what I think are the worst parts of the "real world" to somewhere I felt was above that.

Zines are in a huge decline... They'll be gone soon enough, as will the CDs and downloads from the looks of things. So in the end, it will work out one way or the other by people using their buying power.

Well, I'm not sure that it has to come down to "buying power" you see - I like the idea that there are other factors at play in fandom. People write stories, create art and vids, and share it freely with each other in fandom - that has nothing to do with buying power. Many publishers have produced zines without making any profit, some have purely given them away, others sell them at what is basically cost, some say that if there is any profit when they finally close their publishing "house", that it will be given to charity. Others, however, seem to be bent on making money by charging prices that do not reflect the price of creation. I've put together "e-zines" - it takes time, it takes care and effort, but that's what fans give to fandom all the time, for free, for the joy of it. What makes those few zine publishers different?
[jane davitt]:I understand that people feel like they're not infringing if they don't make money. Or it gives them an excuse to use those characters. I suppose it makes them feel better than the "other side" and even a bit more superior that they can say, I'm using so and so's characters but I do it for free

Uh, no. It's more that making money off something you don't own is a sure fire way to bring down cease and desist letters. The PTB are usually lenient about fandom when there's no money being made (or lost to them). Bringing money into it is painting a target on fandom's back.

And I began writing in a fandom where the creator, Joss Whedon, gave explicit approval to fanfic. I know some authors, Anne Rice for one, who explicitly forbid it, but in the TV-based fandoms it's very rare for that to happen. We know that the creators of TS know about fanfic and haven't expressed a wish that it not be written.

It's nothing to do with feeling better than someone else; it's to do with keeping fandom under the radar and safe
[diegina]: First of all, I've bought several of these downloadable zines from Requiem. Why?

It's damn FAST!

From the minute I've ordered them to the moment I could read them it all took only a few hours. If I remember correctly, it took only one hour in one case. Compared to waiting weeks for a hard copy, it's magic.

It's cheap way how to get the content of the zine! And this is the most important thing for me. I've bought several printed zines, but... well, to pay $32 per zine (sometimes a bit less when the issue is slimmer) is simply too much for me, especially when almost half of the cost is postage to Europe. And when I see that zine in the end, that little something in plastic binding, I always wonder if the price is really worth it. When I saw Requiem offers some of its zines also in this downloadable version - next to the usual printed version - I didn't hesitate. For me, this is the only affordable way how to get a zine - next to writing for it and get a free trib copy. But I'm still afraid of writing a Pros story in English, not mentioning a story good enough to be published in a printed zine.

Yes, I can't print it. (Well, not officially, but it's nothing even a below-average IT student wouldn't cope with;-P). But I don't mind, all zines I've seen so far are written in too large font anyway, and have too much empty space on all sides. Waste of paper I call it. All of them could be half the size just by half-sizing the used font. So I don't mind the fact I pay for data and not for paper, I just read the stories from the screen of my laptop, and one day, when I will feel up to it I will print in my own format, the way I like it.

And now to the question "What am I actually paying for?" It seems I pay just for an unprintable file. But there is still that usual printed version of the zine, the one that usually costs the editor much more money then he/she will ever get back from the actual sale. I see it as a way to help to reduce the loss. Also, this form of fanzine is not much popular, so I'm not worried about actual profit. I wouldn't pay for a pure e-zine, but I don't mind paying for this. Because unlike most of you, I have only this choice: either this cheap version of the zine in the form "e-zine" or no zine at all. So am I really that bad guy when I choose to pay?
[byslantedlight]: I think many of the authors who think "internet is a bad, bad, rude word" are older fans, who haven't grown up with it, and have limited experience using it now - and perhaps bad experiences when they have. Some of these fans are working in jobs or areas where the fact that they write m/m erotica could get them fired and reviled in their very conservative communities - and no matter how easy it is for us to say "use a pseud" that's not always protection - how many people have nosy partners, or have to share their internet access/computer with husband/children etc? And I even know people who would perhaps be okay with putting their fic online, except that some other fans tried to bully them into it, so that effectively they're rebelling... There are reasons other than money-grabbing for not putting fic online, although I totally agree it's a shame that it can't all be freely available!
[moth2fic]: I am involved in 'original' zines. One of them is moving towards charging. I have paid for 'original' zines. The charges go towards the purchase and maintenance of the website and domain name - and possibly towards paying the authros a nominal amount for their fic. There are two ways of putting e-fic out there - you can't usually access the fic till you've paid though there might be samples, but only some sites do a 'read only' version and block printing. If you did have one you could print you'd have the worry that other people might print and resell - there'd be absolutely no control. We've had pirated stuff appearing elsewhere from our little zine and it's hard (and time consuming) to deal with.

Having said all that... I would assume, if I accessed an e-site, that the site owners had already sorted all the legal issues and that worries with the web hosts not liking e.g. fanfic were their problem and not mine!

I personally prefer e-fic for all fanfic and a lot of lighter original fic reading - easier to cart about and store! I'd definitely pay for yours, but I'd need to know something about the authros if it was a mixed zine!!
[birggitt]: To me, all this discussion is hypothetical. Because, if you put all your fics in a downloaded e-zine and charge $20 for them, I would never, ever read them.

For those who are living in countries as mine $20 is a big bunch of money (more than you have to pay for a good hard-cover book). An, at that cost? No way.

People who can't go to Conventions, go live, like me, on South America, are fanzine deprived, too.

Cost make them unfordable, and that's a real shame, but is something we learn to live with.

I print my fics, and bind them , but is not the same. So, if I could, I'd buy every single zine that's around. I believe is just fair to pay for them, as they cost money to the person who actually put them together. Let's not talk about work, and stress, and hours of their time.

E-zines, OTOH, should be for free. There's not cost involved, only fannish work. And, if we are gonna pay for fannish work, I'd prefer to give my money to authors *shrugs* Just my two cents :)

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