Zines and the Internet

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Related terms: Zine
See also: Zine Production, History of Media Fanzines, Fandom and the Internet, Internet Fans Controversy Du Jour (Sandy Herrold)
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The Internet has had a massive effect on fanzines, affecting not only their market, but also how they are viewed by fans.

In January 1997, a zine editor wrote in a Sentinel zine:
This project is a bit of an experiment for us. All the stories in this zine have been 'published' already - on the Internet. There is a huge amount of talent out there, and some people who have e-mail have been discussing whether Internet Action will mean the death of paper fanzines. There are two (that I personally know of) all-Sentinel slash zines proposed, but most print zine editors do not accept previously-distributed fiction. Thus, we hope to find out now - is there a market for this kind of zine? Will people hesitate to buy fiction they can get for 'free' off the 'net? Or is this a good way to bring more people into a fandom, by reaching those who don't have Internet access? We shall see....[1]
A zine editor in July 1998 wrote of her optimism:
Ah, the Internet, source of infinite information: anything you want to know, it's out there somewhere. Well, as far as my experience goes, that's probably true, even to finding K/S stories.

For a long time many of us who bought and read zines thought that was all there was, and, I'm told, the people who published on the net were as unaware of us as we were of them. But now the two different media are opening up to each other, and for some reason this seems to be causing some consternation. The "zine" group seems to feel that it will be taken over by the other and eventually disappear. I don't think we really have any cause to worry. There are so many advantages and disadvantages to both methods of publishing. There's nothing like the instant gratification of posting a story on the newsgroups and getting comments back right away. But there's also nothing like curling up with a nice paper book with its gorgeous artwork to drool over. Or like getting a nice LOC from someone who has just discovered K/S and has just read your story that you wrote five years ago and published in a zine.

Now that the two groups have become acquainted, writers from the net have begun to submit stories to zines, and some of the zine writers have started posting on the newsgroups. And we, as readers, can only reap the benefits. New writers, new plots and writing styles — I think it's encouraging and exciting.[2]

By 1999, some online fans began calling print zines "dead-tree" fanfiction.[3]

In 2000, fanfiction was on the cusp of print and online. An ad in The Web After Dark reflected this major shift in fanwork creation and access.

2000 flyer advertising their services

The following is from a flyer illustrating this shift, including the need to explain the difference between a novel and an anthology. "THE PRESSES: Bringing Online to Zine Form: If you have a story you've published online and would like to see it in print as a novel with illustrations by KOZ, drop us an Email... All we ask is that the work not have been in a fanzine before and you allow a little technical cleanup via punctuation and spelling, should the piece need it. Novels should be at least 50 pages long when you save it to a word processing file. Send it to us as an attached file saved in MS Word 7 or under, Word Perfect 6 and under, Write for Windows 98 or under, or a text only file. A collection is five or six stories by one author. The total page-count on the five or six should be around 50 pages. All zines are published in digest-size with a full color cover and several color illustrations amongst the black and white ones inside. Authors receive ten copies of the novel/novella/collection to do with as they please. Give them away or sell them at the asking price. It's our way of saying thank you. There are still many, many people not online. Have your work seen by an unlimited audience."

A fan in 2002 commented:
... a lot of people who've come into fandom in recent years seem to regard fanfic as an online phenomenon, period, and react with faint surprise, themselves, when they first hear about these quaint objects known as "print zines." Being as I *like* printed matter, I, too, find that a little sad.[4]

Organizational and Sociological Differences

Zines and online fiction exist in and create entirely different social milieus, but not all fans agree on what those differences consist of or how to characterize these two types of fandom. Speaking from the zine side of things, fans often describe each as a single community, where the major distinction is between offline fandom and online fandom:
...They are two different communities, two different groups of people who each became a community in a different time and place. Like any community, each has its own dynamics, norms and values. For me, though, the two communities differ in that they represent two different paradigms of interacting and writing. I see the net community as egalitarian and communitarian. Communication on the net is immediate, highly interactive, and non-hierarchical. As a result, net fiction tends to be idea-driven, collaborative and interactive (see, e.g., the "challenges" and the multi-part stories written by different authors as an idea grabs hold). It cuts into deeper levels of emotional and sexual truth. If the net medium is egalitarian and communitarian, the printzine medium is hierarchical and individualistic. Writing is a more a solitary pursuit, with reinforcement tending to come from editors and the small number of readers who write reviews in The K/S Press. Editors have the power to decide what gets published and what doesn't. People take the time to write long stories, novellas and novels, and long LoCs (when they write them at all). Emphasis is less on ideas, more on how the writer handles the characters' emotions. I think there's probably also a generational difference between the two media that reflects and has contributed to overall social change. As we move into the 21st century, society as a whole is becoming more interactive, less hierarchical. The focus in industry is shifting away from top-down management to self-organized teamwork and collaboration. Diversity is actively valued because we have come to see it as a strength. So the net community is a 21st century organism, I think.[5]
Fans who entered fandom through the internet often see zine-producing fandom as one flavor of fandom among many and don't think of online fandom as a single community:
The people who freak out about zines the most, in my experience, are those who think *they* are the old guard, beset by younger fans who don't understand How Things Are Done. Other fans may be turned off by perceived hostility or strange terminology that doesn't line up with their fandom experiences (anything prefixed with 'net', for example) or they may not have their own credit cards or paypal accounts, but I see no widespread hostility to the general *idea* of paying some amount of money for unauthorized print material by fans in some form. Some individual fans are rude and badly-behaved, yes, and lots of people react differently depending on how they're approached, but a unified 'net fandom' that is anti-zine doesn't exist.[6]
A fan in 2001 noted what she felt were big differences between zine fic and online fic and posted this self-labeled "rant":
I've been reading fanfiction for close to twelve years. That's pre-Internet, all the way back to 'zines. I'm a hopeless fan-girl, always have been and like it that way. Now I've never had the same issues with 'zine fic that Internet fanfic seems to inspire, especially in regard to quality and presentation. 'Zines are edited (well, hopefully they are) polished, slaved over by obsessive people, etc. and you will rarely find too many huge glaring errors, in spelling, grammar, formatting etc. This doesn't cover content quality because I've read some serious stinkers in 'zines -- ones that I've actually ripped out of the binding and thrown in the trash lest my eyes be seared by their Overwhelming Badness ever again. (Yes Virginia, a well-edited, perfectly grammatical story can suck. It's true.)

Internet fanfiction is a different barrel of fish entirely. There is no mandatory editing, there's no required labeling, there's often no rhyme or reason to anything and once you get past the word "FIC" in the subject line, honey, you are on your own. Typos leap out of the bar doors, shooting wildly ... POVs jump around like Mexican beans in the sun ... rape fics come up behind you and hit you like the 1:13 from Memphis ... men apply garish make-up and get pregnant in the general store. It's often not a pretty sight and part of me doesn't blame people for railing against these crimes against their eyes, minds and stomachs. I can understand the emotion behind angry crits, bad-fiction sites and the like. I really can.

But none of these things will change the basic fact of Internet fanfic -- it's a writer's world, not a reader's.

Unlike 'zines, which you pay for and are allowed a certain amount of expectation, Internet fan-fiction comes with no guarantees, no rules, no respect. It's an ever-renewing pile of dung in which you must dig deeply for the oft-hidden jewels and if this tires or upsets you at any point, then your fanfic reading days in that fandom are probably coming to their natural end.[7]

Visceral Differences

Many fans of printed zines feel the object-in-hand is part of the total experience.

Some comments from fans:

First, I just sit a minute with the zine in my lap and feel its' weight. I turn the table of contents and read that, plus any comments, notes, etc. that the editors might have put in. Then I page through the entire zine, not reading any of the stories, but just looking at the illos and imagining the stories that they are illustrating. Only then comes the serious business: THE FIRST READING. I read right through each page in order from the first to the last. I like to get the feel of a zine, the momentum, because I feel that every editor puts a lot of thought and energy into the distribution and order of the material. You can tell a little of the personality of a zine ed by the way they arrange things. I find it very hard to put down a zine on the first reading. In one case, I started on FINAL FRONTIER I at about 9:00 p.m. one Saturday night and finally finished it about 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. I was emotionally drained that time! On subsequent readings of the zine I mix the order, going back to a few favorite stories many times till I've picked up all the nuances. But I can't imagine skipping around on that first reading! I'd go nuts wondering what was in that one I'd just skipped over!! [8]
For those of you who've never actually seen a zine, it's hard to imagine the impact they can have... It might have arrived in your mailbox (the snail mail one <g>) on a day when everything else had gone wrong. Or you could have picked it up at a convention, just managing to get the last copy off the editor's table or being lucky enough to find it more recently in a box of used zines... It might be hard to picture them -- they can be as thick as 450 pages (huge) or small as 50-60. Full of art (when we could beg something from the wonderful artists!) and beautifully enhanced by graphics, special lettering, each one bears the stamp of it's producer. I feel a zine is a work of art in itself -- a lot of thought goes into the arrangement of the stories and how they are presented. It's more than just a few stories reformatted and printed out.[9]
A paper zine is the *real* thing, the prize. It was very interesting when I published Swords & Senses, the Net Edition -- one of the authors picked up her trib copy and held it to her bosum sighing, 'it's so much more real when it's in print!' [10]
I believe that as long as there are fans, there will always be zines. There is something very tactile about holding one in your hands that cannot be duplicated by downloading fiction off the 'Net. The 'words' might be the same, but there's no comparison. A finished zine, all beautifully bound and with a gorgeous color cover, is (and always will be) something special.[11]
We are considering scanning the zines and putting them on cds either as jpg images or pdfs. CDs are cheap to mail and people could print the zine if they wanted. In this way we could keep the zine's appearance as it originally looked. ... We aren't totally comfortable with taking the zines out of their paper format, as most of us feel that's their value -- they are paper zines. For people who have never had the joy of holding a paper zine in their hand, the library has been an important resource.[12]
...let’s face it – if you were 'raised' on zines, even with all the great things to enjoy on the web, on the Kindle or other ebook reader, there’s still nothing quite like holding a zine in your hands. Especially a zine that has the tactile pleasure of fine papers, interesting textures. That was one of my favorite things about the early B7 Complexes – portfolios were printed on lovely parchment paper that not only looked great, they were a treat to touch and hold.[13]

Decline in Number of Zines

Also see: History_of_Media_Fanzines.

Also see: Why Fewer Zines?

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.

Even before the world wide web, fans noticed a drop-off in number of new zines. 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." The editor of the June 1991 Southern Enclave published many LoCs encouraging fellow fans to make more zines to take up the slack in offerings.

One long-time zine ed wrote of her excitement about the internet and zines: "1997 is revving up to be a good year, zine-wise. By February, we were juggling four in stages of layout. By our big annual convention, MediaWest*Con, we'll have a total of eight new publications for the table!... We've had a terrific surge of interest and have been very active in online fannish activities and communication. Cyberspace was absolutely the best invention that could have come along for us, as we are now in contact with fans and subscribers from all over the gold on a daily basis." [14]

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.

Impact of the Internet

The internet and wider computer access for fans made everything more complicated.

In early 1994, a Pros fan wrote at length about some of these complexities regarding "publishing" and "rights":

"I can see why writers would want their work opened out to the circuit, to get new or broader readership..."

Ha. Perfect intro to a topic much on my mind. We had a little discussion about circulation of stories at our latest local slash bash, and the question of "pulling" stories from zines came up.

We talked about publisher rights and author rights--in most of the zines I've encountered so far, the copyright statement says something like "all rights revert to authors on publication". Now, I've always assumed this meant a writer could do whatever the hell she wanted to with her story once the zine was actually published. But I've also felt it would be polite not to circulate a story from a zine until that zine had a chance to be sold--i.e., waiting a year or so before "pulling" the story and offering it either to the circuit or to the email library or both.

Now, there are really only a few good reasons I can think of for actually wanting to do this (rather than encouraging people to simply buy the zine): 1) the zine has gone out of print, 2) the writer is trying to collect a body of her work from widely- scattered sources in order to publish it all in one place in a new zine or 3) the writer was sorely disappointed in the zine her story came out in, and cannot honestly recommend its purchase to fellow fans.

I do feel, that even if a writer absolutely loathes the zine her story is in, that she should wait at least a year before freely circulating the story elsewhere.

Some publishers are now changing the standard "rights revert to author on publication" notice. Mysti Frank (of Chalk & Cheese) is sending a "Letter of Agreement" to all authors which states that she retains all rights to distribute the story for a period of one year, after which the author can do whatever she wants with it. This serves to put the above, previously unwritten "politeness rule" into a written form, which should certainly help prevent potential misunderstandings, and I think it's a good idea.

Other publishers may have or be instituting a "no rights revert" policy--i.e., the author never gets the rights back, period.

(I don't really care what rights a publisher decides on for her zine as long as she's up front with the authors about what rights have been granted, and also that she abide graciously by those rights, should the author actually choose to exercise them.)

Also, the question of electronic rights is certainly at issue now. If a story is sent out to a listserver, does that constitute "publication"? I happen to think that, at the very least, it constitutes circulation/distribution. The main reason Mysti instituted her new policy was due to a writer who distributed a story to an electronic list, a story that had been published in a Chalk and Cheese zine nine months previously. (This was on one of the commercial email groups.)

Someone asked a while ago why writers on this list don't publish stories or stories-in-progress to the list for comments/feedback, whatever. I wouldn't post a work-in-progress to the list simply because at this size (are we over 50 people now?), I'd consider that I had circulated the story, and if I wanted to later submit the same story, even in a revised version, to a zine editor, I'd be obliged to inform that editor that possibly up to 50 people had already seen a version of it. Which might very well make that editor leery of printing it as a "new" piece.

I think it's important that writers know what their rights to a story are, and that they carefully consider what they're doing whenever they distribute a story in any form. And with the increased access that fans seem to be getting to the Net, the issue of electronic distribution could become rather messy indeed.[15]

In 1995, some fans believed that there was no way to feasibly sell online zines or books because most people wouldn't want to pay for what they couldn't tangibly pick up and show off to friends. An AT&T commercial of the time showing a girl reading a "book" on a monitor, with virtual pages that turned, was lampooned as being "totally ridiculous." Others pointed out that piracy would be virulent if everything of value was available online.[16]

Randall Landers, a zine publisher, says,
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 [of letterzines] 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.[17]

A brief sampling of letterzines in the late 1990s and early 2000s exemplifies the contradictory reactions among fandom to the new technology (Note: see The K/S Press and other letterzines from the mid to late 1990's for MUCH MORE fannish discussion on this subject.)

From a LoC in a 1998 Southern Enclave
Fanzines won't become extinct any more than books. Ok, maybe books will be replaced by electronic readers, about the size of a book, but not scrolling ones, but the kind that displays a page at a time.
From The K/S Press #48 in 1998:
K/S is alive and well in cyberspace as well as in zines! Welcome to the all-Net K/S zine [the Amazing Grace Special Edition Best of the 'Net K/S Sampler]. All of the stories in this zine were previously published on the Internet. The authors have given me permission to publish them for the first time in a zine.
From "The K/S Press" #48 (2000):
Please note I do not wish any story in any of my zines The Voice, Locusts and Wild Honey and In the Wilderness to appear on the Internet at any time. This is not a matter of the future of K/S but a matter of editorial control, and control of pen names. The zines were designed to be read from paper and held in the hand and I wish them to remain that way. Any attempt to publish is zine piracy and will be treated as such."

Irrespective of fandom's attitude towards the Internet, starting in the late 1990s, fanzines began a steady slow decline as more and more fan fiction become freely available on the Internet. Fanzine publishers began complaining how difficult it was to get fans writers to contribute to fanzines.

Many zine editors started to 'release' stories back to their writers after one year, so that the writers could then publish their stories on their own web pages. This was a useful stop gap, but eventually, most writers stopped submitting to zines altogether.

Deb Walsh posted to her announcement list a couple of days ago that Vendredi Press will no longer be publishing zines. She said that it was too hard to recruit enough writers and to sell enough zines to make all the hard work of putting a zine together worthwhile. I also heard that the zine dealers at KazCon had low sales and were surprised by how many fen didn't even know what zines were.[18]
There were many reasons fanzines were being bypassed by writers and readers:
From a writer's standpoint .... I can kind of see the problem. Why submit a zine fic, wait months for the zine to be published, and wait after that for letters of comment from the few (percentage-wise) readers who comment on zine fic, when you can post a fic on your LJ (or Web site or Yahoo!Group) and be knee deep in feedback within hours? You can even discuss points of the fic with your readers while the fic is still fresh enough in your mind to remember the details of what you wrote.[18]
A writer's letter to The K/S Press #6 (1997) illustrates one dilemma:
It seems that just in the last couple of months the number of Classic Trek (and K/S) fans on the net seems to have increased dramatically. Just within the limited circle of people I correspond with, several difficult situations have arisen. We have all tried to resolve these situations as best we can, but it seems to me that there are areas where fan-etiquette and "nettiquette" come into conflict. If a writer posts a story to the internet, he or she faces some hard choices. The alt.startrek.creative and alt.startrek.creative.erotica newsgroups provide a wonderful forum for getting instant reader feedback, and lots of it. But what if the writer also wants to publish the story in a zine? Is it fair to the editor of the zine? What about the reader, who's buying the zine and may have read the story on the net already? It's not that big of a fandom, and as more people get online the chances of this happening will increase. I posted a story on the net last year, never intending it for a zine. But an editor approached me after the fact and asked if she could have it. I said yes. Now I am writing a sequel, and I'm really stuck. I want to post the sequel on the net too, because I promised it to the internet audience months and months ago. But if I do so, I really need to repost the original story! I feel bad possibly taking sales away from the zine editor--but I posted it to the net first. Now I'm wondering if, from now on, I should refrain from posting my stories on the net to avoid this happening again. Should I have said 'no' when the editor asked me? Do I have to choose? I know I'd be annoyed if I paid a lot of money for a zine full of stories I've read. On the other hand, the sheer numbers of responses you get from net readers are awfully nice. But the last thing I want is for zines to disappear! What's a net- savvy writer to do?... What does anybody think is the right solution?"

Readers also saw a huge benefit as they discovered they could wander across the vast plains of the Internet, steadily devouring an endless supply of free and easy to access fan fiction.

But other fans pointed that the 'free' online access came at a price: most stories or fan fiction archives went offline after only a few years: "Yet, no matter how old my zines get (and some of them are over 25 years old), I've never opened one up and gotten a 404 File Not Found error. [18]

In the end, after one business analyst examined the fanzine vs Internet 'markets', fanzines could not maintain their competetive edge against the flexibility, reach and relatively low cost of Internet fan fiction.

"People do not write stories or purchase zines so that the publishers can make money. Running a successful business means finding a way of turning a profit by meeting the needs of your contributors and customers.

The zine publishers are the middle men in this, and the web is eliminating the need for them. Middle men cannot survive unless they provide added value to the people on the two ends.

So, zine publishers, here's some advice that you may find helpful. If you're going to compete, then compete. What does the web do that you can't? You can't publish as quickly, nor can you force your readers to send feedback. Those are facts that I doubt you can change. So if you're to stay in business, you have to start delivering something that the customer wants so badly that s/he won't object to the cost and the wait. You will also have to offer something to the writers that they can't get on the web, or an enticing print-only variation of something they do get on the web.

I don't know what that something is, but right now, it would appear that zines do not offer it. They aren't giving enough added value to justify the cost to the other parties involved. "[19]

In actuality, prior to the advent of graphical websites, fanzines did have one competitive advantage over netfic and that was fan art. However, by the late 1990s most fanzine publishers had dropped fanart and offset printing in order to take advantage of the faster and cheaper method of xeroxing. One zine publisher explained this shift:

Actually, I've been given this some thought. And what I think happening may be a (Lord, I hate this word) paradigm shift. When ORION PRESS first debuted in 1979 (it was STARDATE PRESS at that time), zines were produced either through off-set printing or through mimeography. Our first two issues were printed off-set, in fact. In the Spring of 1980, we made a transition to xerography, and we were suddenly able to produce zines as fast as we could fill them. We literally did a 60-100 page zine every 6-9 weeks with quality works (most of which are available in the asc TOS archive). Submissions were flooding in because we could turn around the zines so quickly, as compared to most of the other zine presses who were, for better or worse, and for the sake of quality artwork, entrenched with the offset printing process.

A few years later, every single person who wanted to be a Trek zine writer was heading to Kinko's and producing their own zines. The larger, older, more established, offset printed fanzines had a harder and harder time filling their pages. Zines like our STARDATE (which in 1984 became ORION) and IDYLLS came out quickly, reliably and more often than their offset counterparts. However, there were still offset counterparts which then strove to maintain levels of quality of production (and artwork) as well as sales.

Now, there's a new paradigm shift away from print into the electronic realms of this newsgroup and personal websites. Printed zines are striving to hold on to their readership by cost saving measures, by increasing their levels of expectation of quality, and by increasing their production schedules to keep up with the voracious appetites of the readership.

What's being lost is the artwork (in April, we made the decision to minimize if not eliminate interior artwork--cover art will remain, but the illustrations for the stories are being phased out). What's also being lost is the esprit de fandom of the authors, editors and publishers as they face what literally may be the extinction of an art form. I certainly am guilty of my lamentations about this. I've been doing it for twenty years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. (Well, okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea...)

Fanzines must pay for themselves in order to continue. By doing so, they need to sell around 100 copies of an anthology, 50 copies of a novella, with a reasonable mark up to cover the expenses. An exchange of currency occurs, and the editor hopes to break even (which we've done two years out of twenty).[19]
Eventually graphical and interactive websites would erase this advantage, but the failure of fanzine publishers to use the advantage in their favor did not go unnoticed by fandom:
[Eliminating art] may be a mistake. One of the few things you *have* over web zines and forums like ASC is that you can reproduce art almost as easily as text. On the web, art takes time to download, and take a a lot more space on the provider's site, and if you want to hang it on your wall you have to print it youself, which is time-consuming, costly, requires equipment many people don't have, and results in a lower-quality reproduction. Zines such as Orion Press may *be* the only place people can get high-quality fan artwork (and I'm almost not exaggerating when I say that Orion Press is the *only* fanzine I've seen in the Trek world whose art does not suck; there's some lovely art for Blake's 7 zines, but mostly what I see as far as quality in Trek is some lovely Bashir/Garak slash zine covers, Orion Press' art, and the rest is utter dreck.) [19]
Or as another fan expressed more succinctly:
Sounds like you need to do some serious market research to find out what people *do* want from your product...You are not your market. Apparently, the people who really value [the] aspects of a zine [that you value] are a small number. If you want to attract other readers, don't try to make them accept your reasons for loving zines as theirs. Find out what they want. And deliver it.[19]
By 2010, much of online fandom had adopted a hostile, almost dismissive attitude towards print fanzines:
That is so not right. You do NOT charge for fic! That's the only reason TPTB let us get away with writing it! Ok maybe it's one thing for zines where you're only asking for the amount it takes to print off all the paper and ink (but really? We're in the computer age. History, blah, blah, how everything started, blah, but come on. it's 2010. move into the computer age)… [20]
I'm uncomfortable with zine subculture in general, but I don't have a specific problem with the moratorium on reposting fics for a set length of time. I get the idea that it's fannish convention, not a legal contract thing; you *could* repost it, but you probably wouldn't be invited back to any future zines. However, the whole concept of zines bothers me now that we can put our fic online for free -- if it's having a print copy that's important, you could just as easily make the zine content available in a free PDF that anyone could print out. I recognize that it's a part of our fannish history and that some people prefer doing things that way (and I must admit there's a special fun in scrounging for old zines in long-defunct fandoms) but I'm not personally comfortable with participating -- I've turned down offers to put my work in zines before.[20]

Also see: Fanzines and the Internet or "Whither Thou Goest, Orion Press?" for much more discussion.

Value and Money

In the days of print zines, the practical lens of money was one through which many fans viewed their fanfiction.

The quality of fanfiction was a big issue when fans forked over money for the privilege; and judging the quality was a big topic of conversation. Zine reviews rated products on readability, art, and a number of other things; and almost always included a section on whether a fan got her or his money's worth with a zine's purchase. Whereas today, a fan can easily make the choice to click a back button on a disappointing piece of fiction or art, fans who'd paid cold hard cash (and had often waited months, sometimes years) had much more invested in fanworks.

One fan writes:
The Castaways... at $2.50? After all, there are zines, good solid zines that cost more and are worth it. There are even more zines that cost more and aren't worth it. And I'm sure that Vicki Kirlin isn't making one cent off this project, what with the fancy two-color cover and the nice, heavy paper stock, and the unreduced type. It is very pretty. It is also overpriced... Interphase is worth $6. Sol Plus is not. The Other Side of Paradise is worth $3. Contact is not. Masiform D is worth a buck… [21]

Fans filled letterzines with complaints about zine covers being too intricate (read: expensive), and white space and filler art getting in the way of the meat of a zine. There was a constant battle over font size, and whether a zine was good if it squeezed in as much type as possible, or if it was bad because the print was too small. Fans were constantly discussing zines and whether they had gotten their money's worth.

Some comments:

Unquestionably, we have entered the era of value of money in Trekzines. TOSOP #2 may be the best bargain available at this particular moment, for quantity of high-quality work. It looks good and reads well, and it offers a variety of types of stories, articles, artwork and poetry.[22]
IPH is worth the lauds, worth the critical abeyance, and worth the three bucks plus postage.[23]
Some zine eds have a tendency to reject out of hand letters of comment that are not favorable. They won't print them; they label them unnecessarily harsh. They say the letter letter is reacting out of proportion -- after all, 'it's only a hobby.' So what's wrong with this attitude, other than the obvious fact that the zine reader's right to express an opinion... is guaranteed by the Constitution? Well, it may be YOUR 'hobby,' but if you want readers to pay out THEIR hard-earned dollars for it, it entitles them to comment on any aspect of your zine from the staples to the copyright notice... With the ever-increasing costs of purchasing zines, this factor becomes more and more important. For those of you who are just in it for the Vanity Press, who don't want to hear anything but ego-boo and the compliments, you'd be much better off to just hand your material away free to your family and friends.[24]

There was much debate surrounding critical reviews of zines. Discussion abounded in letterzines, in adzines, and LoCs everywhere as fans debated the value of what they felt to be overly critical and harsh reviews. The reviewers would, in turn argue that one of the goals of these pointed reivews was to keep fans from wasting their money on crappy zines.

A fan comments:
The main purpose of a fanzine review is to provide potential purchasers with a basis on which to decide whether or not they wish to order the zine.[25]

Some would argue that the exchange of currency for fiction was one way to ensure that the quality of said fiction would remain high—a monetary hoop all authors and artists had to jump through. Fans who experience the availability of fiction on the internet today could argue that it was simply one more gatekeeper, an obstacle to creativity and accessibility.


Even as early as 1986, fans were complaining that zines were elitist.

One fan writes:
...if you don't have the right sort of 'connections' to borrow the zines from and you don't have the bucks, you can't get a zine. In addition, if you write a story, even a GOOD story, and it, for some reason, doesn't fit the zine ed's view of the universe, it'll get rejected; if it doesn't fit the theme of the zine, it'll get rejected; and if it isn't that good a story, it'll get bumped too. At least, with the circuit, the first timers and the stories that are, sometimes not quite zine quality, get an outing. These are the things, that to my mind... make the circuit (and the Library) more democratic and less exclusive that zines will ever manage to be.[26]

Some fans argue that in today's era of online access, buying and selling fanzines is elitist:

I hate zines on principle. Don't think I could pay for fanfiction of any kind. I also find it snooty and shady when these authors lock up their fic into zines. I mean, what's the point in todays society when everything is digital? ~batgurl10[27]

Others point out that not everyone has access to a computer, even in developed countries like US or Europe. In addition, some fans have accessibility issues that preclude them from reading online. Both statements counter the elitist argument with one of their own, namely that online fandom has equal potential of being exclusionary.[28]

From a conversation in 2002:

A fan wrote:
I think Zines are a form of Elitism. I'm a net writer born and bred and I believe everyone has equal right to read my stories if they should chose, whether they can afford to or not. I cannot afford zines or to travel to Cons to buy them, so I feel for anyone else in the same boat.
Another fan replied:
What about the people who aren't online or don't have access to a computer? Don't they have a right to read fan-fiction, too? Or what about the people who simply prefer holding a hard copy "book" in their hands to read? I truly don't mean to step on anyone's budget or to imply that buying zines is necessarily inexpensive, but we're not talking about a new car either. As in all things, it's a choice. If you don't want to purchase or can't afford to purchase a zine, there is plenty of wonderful fiction to read on the net, but I think that saying zines are a form of elitism, is in my opinion, painting with kind of a broad brush.... I'm sorry, but to me your analogy is akin to saying that movies shouldn't be made because they cost money to get into, and everything should just be on free television. I like to go to the movies. I hate what they cost now, but I enjoy going to them and eating my popcorn that never tastes the same at home. It's a treat, and maybe purchasing zines is a treat, too, but it isn't elitism in my opinion. It's a choice of how you want your entertainment.[29]
In 2002, a fan responded to another fan's complaint that too much fiction in this fandom was only available as zines, hence a "gate-keeping, elitist" fandom culture. She said:
You have to realize also that SH has more zines and more old zines than some fandoms because it is a fandom that began before the internet ever existed. I did the first 3 issues of [zine name redacted] on a typewriter and didn't even own a computer until then. I wasn't on line until about six or seven years ago. I'm delighted that SH has an online presence because that means the fandom is still alive and growing, but it distresses me that the fanzine publishers are now being considered criminals and net authors are considered okay. In my humble opinion, the same respect should be given to all authors of fanfiction, whether its in a zine or on the net.[30]
For others, the worry is that if fanzines once again become the norm or if too many fan writers stop offering their fan fiction for free, it would be a shift in our fannish culture:
In effect we would create a two tier fandom the haves and the have nots, and that's something I wouldn't want to be a part of....I'd be sad to see her fan fic and fan fic in general become a 'pay as you read' commodity for the simple fact that in my own case anyway, I couldn't afford to pay for that commodity. I'd feel excluded and in all probability would be forced to leave fandom, and that saddens me because fan fiction and the wonderful people that I have encountered in its warm embrace have brought me great joy. ~nicky69[31]

Some fans feel that zines have an exclusionary effect based on region as well. A zine that is quite cheap to purchase via media mail in the United States will be significantly more expensive once postage to Canada is factored in and often prohibitively expensive if a fan is paying postage to Australia or South America or Europe. Most zines, at least most zines about which it's easy to find information, seem to come from the US or the UK with only a handful from other locations. Fans in other countries often feel that it is only through the internet that they are able to participate in fandom.

Perhaps the middle of the road approach is to recognize that fanzines "obviously provide a service and for fill a need, because we as individuals all have our own preferred way of reading fan fic, some prefer to use the net, some like the weight of an actual book in their hands, neither option is better than the other, just different." ~nicky69 [31]

Regarding the subject of elitism and fandom, some fans in the mid to late 1990's felt that it was the computer and internet fandom that was elitist, citing the costs of a computer, of internet access, and the costs, many hidden, that went into online life. Fans wrote in The K/S Press that it was the availability of print that kept things affordable and accessible to everyone.

Or, as some might say: Fandom should continue to operate under the principles of IDIC.


Fanzines predated the Internet by decades; however, when it came to visibility on the Internet some fanzine publishers were slow to embrace the Internet's marketing and outreach opportunities. While fanzine listings can be found as early as 1984, they were often buried among more general book store or part of other general fandom merchandise and fan club listings.[32] Slash (or K/S) was rarely mentioned, although there was one 1985 Usenet post to net.startrek explaining why info on K/S, even though popular among fans, was not something that should be widely disseminated.[33]

A few fanzine publishers did end up on the Internet; whether intentionally or not. In 1992 Kathryn Andersen compiled an extensive seven part Blake's 7 fanzine list and posted it to rec.arts.sf.tv. It included mainly gen fanzines along with a smattering of slash zines.[34] Also in 1992 a fan posted ordering information for several K/S zine publishers to rec.arts.startrek.misc including Wendy Rathbone and Bill Hupe.[35] In 1993, Star Wars fanzine ordering info was posted to rec.arts.sf.starwars. The listing was intended to include both gen and slash fanzines, although no specific slash fanzines were part of the initial posting.[36] Quantum Leap fanzines and reviews were posted to rec.arts.sf.tv.quantum-leap. While only gen zines were listed, the list owner did invite fellow fans to compile their own slash fanzine list.[37] Other newsgroups included information on where to order Battlestar Galactica fanzines[38] and Doctor Who zines.[39] By 1995, fanzine advertisements on the open Internet for both gen and slash zines were neither new or unusual, although slash fanzine publishers tended to publicize in smaller numbers.

It was against this backdrop that in 1995 one fan decided to take advantage of the World Wide Web graphical web and create a website listing slash fanzine publishers. Websites were still a relatively new phenomena to most Internet fans with most of their fannish communication taking place via person to person email, closed mailing lists, private bulletin boards and the public Usenet. The fan began by contacting fanzine publishers in 1995 and sending emails and letters requesting permission to put their ordering information onto a secured website. Some of their contact info had been obtained, with permission, through On the Double, a fanzine adzine. The site was intended to be password protected and initially only the fanzine publishers and volunteers assisting with proofreading the site had access.[40]

However, one of the zine editors passed on the info to her friend who claimed she was able to access the site without the password. Her friend immediately began raising the alarm and in September 1995 posted to Virgule-L, the slash mailing list, that someone (whom she refused to identify) had listed the addresses of fanzine publishers without permission. The vagueness of her alarm and the lack of specifics resulted in a swift and negative reaction in the online slash community with many raising valid concerns about outing and privacy violations. As one publisher commented: "We put our flyers in fanzines. At SF and media conventions. In places where we are relatively certain other fans (Slashfans) will have access to them but not necessarily the general public. The WWW is like a YELLOW PAGES. Why put slash in the yellow pages?" [41] And, even though the coordinator immediately posted to the mailing list the full details of the project, including the fact that the website logs had shown no unauthorized access, the overall reaction remained negative.[42] The site was quickly taken down and the website owner begged fans to let everyone know that the project was always intended to list contact info only with permission. However, a month later the tale had grown in scope and had become the subject of (inaccurate gossip) at Zebracon. (See issue #23 of Come Together).

Another example of zines and the increased visibility of the internet is from Starsky & Hutch Adzine & Newsletter #15 (February 1995):

from issue #15, announcement about the S&H Lending Library
Sad news about the S&H Fanzine Library closing because some person chose to override Barbara F's wishes about NOT posting information about its existence on any online service; the Library existed for us, NOT the general public.... STARSKY & HUTCH FANZINE LIBRARY IS CLOSED! When Barbara F., the Librarian, opened the Library she asked that its existence NOT be posted on any online service. She opened the Library only to us, NOT to anyone with a modem.

Some person chose to override Barbara's wishes.

Because of this person's action, we no longer have a fanzine Library. About posting any Fanzine info or their Editors on the Net, etc. Please don't! I do NOT want any info about this OR from this Adzine or FRIENZ posted anywhere on the Net, or any online service or the BBSs etc. I know that many other Editors also DO NOT want any info posted about their publications on the Net or any online service. Please ask any fanzine Editor first whether she objects to info about her publication being posted ANYWHERE on the Net or any online service etc. Thank you.[43]
A small focus group at the con discussed the feasibility of putting slash on the net:
The 'pro' people said: having zines available on a web site would be a) cool--i.e., the first zine out there would get additional fannish interest, b) it would go along with the 'personallizing your web site' idea: if slash is one of the most important things in your life, your web site should reflect that, and c) it would bring new people to slash. The 'antis' mostly said the same things that are said any time we discuss 'slash' being mentioned in the mundane world: a) could endanger us by making the copyright holders more aware of what we're doing, and b) growth for its own sake is not good: bigger community [equals]! stronger community. Most of the people there agreed that a flyer *for* *your* *own* zine including a PO box (rather than a home address) could be cool, but we broke down again trying to decide whether you'd link the flyer to a 'zines 101' page, or just let it be self-selecting: people who know what zines are order your zine, people who don't go away confused, and don't cause us trouble (we hope).[44]

Less than a year later, another fan who was a member of a more openly advertised slash mailing list, slash-sis posted emails and addresses (and in a few cases the phone numbers)[45] of fanzine publishers and convention organizers. Again, members of the slash community objected, but the website owner left the website up, although she did remove individual contact info upon request.[46] The website which had been optimized to be invisible to search engines was later used as the basis for a magazine article about slash, proving to some fans that their fears of visibility were not unfounded.[47] By November 1996, Yahoo's search page had created a category just for slash websites: "News and Media:Television:Shows:Fan Fiction:Slash".[48]

These facts serve to illustrate that fanzine publishers, and slash fanzine publishers in particular, remained uncertain how to use the extra visibility afforded by the Internet. However, as with most fannish print vs. online interactions, the bulk of fandom simply bypassed the fanzine publisher's reservations and began posting their fan fiction - and even their slash fan fic - directly, first to closed archives and eventually to public websites. By 2000, most fanzine publishers had followed suit and set up their own websites, although by the time they fully embraced online advertising, print fanzines had significantly fallen in popularity.[49]


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.

In 2009, a copy of a custom zine found its way for sale on eBay which then led to some fans to argue that all fanzines were a violation of copyright law and were 'putting fandom in peril' by introducing profit to fan fiction.[50] The fact that fan fiction had existed solely in fanzine format prior to the Internet and that reimbursement printing costs was necessary in order for the fan fiction to be shared was conveniently overlooked. It was as if Internet fans were throwing away 30 years of fannish traditions in their desire to protect the rights of fan writers to control the distribution of their fan works.[51] In many ways, some might argue that fandom is increasingly folding some of the more restrictive copyright practices of the book publishing and entertainment industries into their culture.[52]

Ironically, as some legal experts point out, if printing and selling a fanzine is illegal, so is writing and posting a fan story. All fan fiction runs the risk of being considered an infringing act. It is the fair use defense that can shield fannish activities as an authorized use of copyrighted material. Or to put it another way, the fair use defense depends on a number of factors, and profit is only one of those factors. Increasingly, more courts are dismissing the 'profit' factor in order to find a whole host of previously 'fair use' activities to be acts of infringement.[53] The "don't sue me, I make no money!" disclaimer may no longer be worth the paper it is (or is not) printed on.

Perceived Decline in Quality

While zines are still being produced today, some fans feel that do not measure up to the quality standards of decades past.

In 1999, a fan writes:
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> [54]
klangley56 explains:
...of course the overall quality of fan fiction has declined--greatly. How could it be otherwise, when the Internet is the ultimate Vanity Press, on a global scale. With...technology and ease of access, ever more “zine compilers” (as they have been dubbed by a friend) have joined the zine production ranks. (With today’s technology, it literally is possible to produce a zine without ever reading its contents.) Zine compilers either do not have, or see no need for, editorial judgment and critical standards. Judging by the zines they produce, they must say “yes” to every contribution that hits the e-mail inbox, and these contributions apparently go directly from the contributor’s keyboard to the final printed product, with no stops for editing (even basic copyediting) or revision in between. Any zine quality achieved as a result of this would be in spite of the efforts of the zine compilers, not because of them. Zines of this type muddy the waters for the zine editors/publishers genuinely practicing the craft of zine production, as zine compilers seem to beget more zine compilers ("Oh, is that all you have to do to make a zine? *I* can do that.").[55]
Langley positions her view on zines in the overall context of the Internet's impact on fandom, arguing that there has been an overall decline in both the quality of writing, quality of zine production as well as the quality of fannish discourse. In short, technology and ease of access have cost fandom dearly:
And, of course, the Internet has produced a major shift as well, with archives, fiction lists, individual Web sites, Live Journals, etc. For many, this technological freedom for as many fans as possible to contribute is a big plus. However, the freedom to create fiction that goes directly from the keyboard to public distribution, often without benefit of anyone's second thoughts, is also a very large minus. Again, good things can and do happen in the arena of online fan fiction, but my perception is that the vast majority of story posters seem to be without adequate writing skills or the urge to acquire them, or access to or interest in proficient editing ("beta-reading" as it is in modern fan vernacular). And, as with the ever-increasing number of lousy zines, the lousy fan fiction spawns more of the same ("Oh, that's all I have to do to post a story? *I* can do that.")

And that's not even taking into account how the process of interaction between writers and readers also has greatly changed over the decades, and the negative effect that has had on quality as well.

So, yes, I *would* say that "things were better in the good old days," and I believe my glasses are still my normal prescription and not particularly rose-colored….[55]
Another fan's opinion: Deb Walsh writes:
Lest we attribute a quality to zines that wasn’t always there, I will admit that there were plenty of zines that were every bit as bad as the worst netfic. I remember one zine that came out at a con, eagerly awaited, touted as the largest zine ever done up to that point. People snatched it up. And within an hour, tried to sell off their copies. The proofreading was so poor, the errors were circled and pubished [sic] that way. And apparently the story could have been less than half its length, and still been too long. And then there were the zines that accepted anything without editing.[56]

The Internet and the Perceived Quality of Fanfic, or "The Internet Makes It Possible for Anyone to Create Fanworks"

In 2002, this discussion illustrated the love/hate many fans had regarding the internet:
I think computers are a mixed blessing in fandom. They make it easier for isolated types like me to participate, but - gah! - they also contribute to the proliferation of ill-conceived, poorly executed, unbetaed and unedited fic, thus making the good stuff that much harder to find.[57]
Agreed. IMHO the internet, on balance, has been quite wonderful for fandom. I, for one, probably wouldn't be writing fanfic now if I hadn't gotten inspired by reading other people's fic on the net, and then by joining a mailing list where people were willing to give me all sorts of encouragement and support. There's nothing like it for keeping fans in touch with other fans, and it makes it *very* easy and quick to share stories with beta-readers and zine editors and just plain ol' readers. But, gadzooks, some of the fic I've seen on the web, it's quite clear that it went from brain to keyboard to public appearance without so much as an *alpha*-read by the writer, let alone beta-read by someone else. I mean, I'm as into instant gratification as the next person, but really! [58]
Alas, I have to agree with this. Now there are some superb authors who post fic on line who hone their craft and create wonderful stories, but alas, the whole process makes it so easy for just anybody, including people who haven't even thought it through to post. I know spell-checkers can't catch mistakes that are real words--but reading over a story and trying to polish it can. What's sad is that people who read them are so used to the poor quality that they praise the stories anyway, and it becomes a recurrent loop; more bad stories, more praise, more bad stories. And most of these people have such tender feelings that they state publicly that they want no comments unless it's praise. Sigh. I know I *want* to be edited. A tough editor is someone to be valued. That's how writers learn and improve.[59]
Can we require them to read Strunk and White before they can post? [60]

Zines: Different Power, Different Tastes

Some fans felt that different generations had different tastes and that the internet redistributed power; these observations, and others, are discussed below as possible reasons for fewer "traditional" print zines.

From a 2000 discussion:

Every story written by anyone [relies on a plot device], not just the romantic K/S ones. Tropes and plot devices abound in the works of Shakespeare, but interestingly nobody ever complains about their presence there. <g>

Both zine writers and net writers are writing K/S. We just aren't that far apart.

Quite right. There are zine writers who have and always have had styles similar to some current net writers, and net writers who have styles similar to those of writers found in early K/S zines even though they had never seen any zine before they started posting. Greywolf and Killa are good examples of the latter, Alexis Fegan Black and Jenna Sinclair the former.

Personally, I think there aren't that many (if any) new ways left to tell any story and we should all quit overanalysing and finding huge significances (and making possibly unintentional value judgements in the process) in the ways we tell our K/S tales and just enjoy the *stories*.

LL&P :) - T'Rhys [61]
From a 2017 post:

Anonymous asked: Sorry if this question is ageist. But why do older fen (50 yrs+) against newer zine publishers? I see so many complaints about no one making fanzines anymore, but yet they refuse to acknowledge or work with newer publishers. Wouldn't the Fannish Generation Gap close if people on both sides worked together?

Oh, nonnie, why do you always ask me this stuff with no name attached? I get the feeling you want me to say something rude that you can take back to Zinelist and try to get me in trouble for.

To put it simply, there is no single, massive generation gap in fandom. Fans who are 50+ are plentiful on tumblr. Fans who like oldschool media fandom fanzines are here too. Some of them are actively participating in new zines, whether contributing or just buying.

The gap that I have seen is a gap that happens all the time, and it’s not about generations: it’s about being left behind.

Once upon a time, I am told, zine publishers were a Big Deal, and being a prominent zine ed was one of the fastest paths to being a seriously important BNF. There were a lot of people who spent the 80s and 90s clawing their way to the top of the fannish heap. Zines became more and more and more about fic and less about art because that’s what the market wanted. Zines became longer and more physically unwieldy because, again, the market demanded as much fic as possible. Postage became ruinously expensive. Media Fandom diversified, going from a focus on a few megafandoms to demanding a place for multifandom zines and tons of mid-size or even small fandoms, so print runs dropped to the point where those wretched comb bindings were a good option.

And just when a bunch of pan-fandom BNFs who were at the top of their game had bought a bunch of expensive binding equipment or figured out the right formula to reliably please their audience, the internet came along and curb-stomped all that.

“Where have the zines gone?” means two things in my experience:

1. Fans who are just consumers and who are relatively monofannish and OTP-focused have a hard time moving with the times. The Starsky & Hutch or Professionals fan of today is the Destiel or Stucky fan of tomorrow. Sure, you can read only the great novel-length fic that is specifically recommended to you, but one day, your ship will quiet down enough that you’ll have to make your own party. If you’re the kind who just moves on to the next juggernaut, you’re set. If you’re the kind who has a couple of OTPs and sticks with them for decades, you’re screwed.

Yes, there are new zines on Tumblr, but they’re rarely for the fandoms that were popular for Media Fandom zines in the 80s and 90s.

2. Fans who were big name publishers want new fans to submit to their zines and to buy their zines. They want their names and reputations to be respected. Most of Tumblr will never have heard of the cons they used to go to, much less the fannish pseuds of older zine publishers.

If they wanted to buy new zines, they’d be set, but they don’t: they want to sell zines to a new audience, and this requires social ties on Tumblr that take time and effort to make.

Another problem is the art vs. fic issue: Most zines I see advertised on Tumblr have a lot of art in them. It may be narrative art (i.e. comics), or they may be purely artbooks, or they may have a lot of fic in amongst the art, but they cannot be made except by a zine publisher who has the backing of artists. Because of that, they must also maintain a certain level of physical quality to be worth buying.

If you’re just a consumer, that’s great! I’ve never even seen Hannibal, and I still bought a bunch of copies of RAW. For a very cheap price, I got a lovely, professional-looking product.

If you’re a zine-maker, it’s intimidating, especially if you’re someone who was known for your fic or your ability to get great fic writers to submit to your zine. All of a sudden, your skills are no longer important. Your reputation has vanished.

I find that a certain number of oldschool zine people also honestly believe that zine eds are great structural and line editors, while betas are useless cheerleaders. This assumption is holding some people back. In their view, if younger fans would just give their product a chance, they’d see how superior it is and become a zine fan. My view is that the very worst online fic is worse than what you’ll find in zines, but everything else is exactly the same. Even if younger fans “gave zines a chance”, they might not find anything there to justify paying money for.

The trouble is that some zine publishers are treating it half like a business and half like a fandom project. Either one works, but not a hybrid.

If it’s a fun fandom project that has lots of community buy-in, or it’s just a thing you’re doing with your friends, then it’s reasonable to expect people to help you foot the cost. All of your buddies chip in for the copy shop fees, and then you hand-sew the bindings on your doujinshi, etc. It’s reasonable to expect people to be tolerant of crappy printing and a less than professional physical product.

If, on the other hand, you’re doing zines more like a business, you need to ask what the market wants. You need to ask what price the market is willing to pay for that product. In my experience, the average fan on Tumblr is not willing to pay very much but expects a highly polished product. Complaining that postage and printing costs are ruinous is irrelevant: these fans feel no and have no obligation to help a stranger make a zine. If it’s more fun than some cheap-ass romance novel ebook off Amazon or more tempting than the bazillion fics on AO3, they’ll buy. If not, they won’t.

Honestly, I think the “generation gap” is more about people who used to get what they wanted from fandom, who no longer do, and who are not willing or able to put in the large amount of work it would take to get those things back.[62]

A fan in 2012 described what they felt were some major differences between print zine fic and internet fic:

The problem of zinefic versus the type of fic one gets in a lot of fandoms these days* is something of a complicated one. By my observation, a lot of zinefic tends to be pretty substantial--more likely to be 10k+--and tends to have pretty strong plotting. (And I've heard this observation echoed by people who used to write zinefic, namely that they grow tired of 1k character studies and what have you in their current fandoms.) It might be a benefit of primarily having published original fiction to model yourself after--I couldn't say for sure.

A shift in writing style, length, and focus seems to come sometime in the early-to-mid 00s. Shorter fic has always existed, no doubt, as have more character-driven stories, but they seem far more common now than they have in my various zine explorations. I couldn't say why definitively--maybe it's a matter of submission guidelines, maybe the instantaneous nature of the internets and the opportunity for quick feedback makes it far more tempting to jot down your 2k and call it good. And when you're modeling what a fic should be off your friends on FFN or LJ, and that's what they write, you end up with something as a sea change. (I can testify to the instantaneous nature of the internets driving one's choices--I wrote more than one tiny little bit of fic in hopes of getting a review or two, back in my FFN days.)

Which is all to say--I like shorter fic, frankly. And if I'm going to choose between characterizations that appeal to me and plots that appeal to me, I'm going to pick characterization. (And what strange places characterization can go when you've got a small group of people writing for each others' interests! The one zine I own in hard copy form includes multiple stories by multiple authors where a character I like is basically written as a white supremacist for shipping reasons. Of course, that can happen on the internets, too, but the incidental audience for zines seems so much smaller to me.) And the worst stylistic excesses of fic I read on the internet--that obnoxious sort of "here are several scenes that aren't really connected, written in a weird, passive sort of style, with ~*~meaningful~*~ italics and DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND THIS CHARACTER SO MUCH MORE NOW also some really pretentious references to Eliot and some artful fragments of sentences"--are still preferable to lumpen, tell-don't-show writing or absurdly florid stuff that reads like the writer had one hand on the keyboard and one on the thesaurus.

Of course, there's some very good zinefic out there--like these ones, like plenty of others I've not yet read--and there's some very bad fic, possibly being written right at this moment. In general, though, the aspects of fic I see valued in fic these days, particularly in my fandoms, are different than the aspects of fic I've seen valued in zines, and my values fall closer to the former than the latter.[63]

Print Zines or Fanworks on the Internet: Which One is More Permanent?

Print zines or online? Which is longer lasting/more likely to be around and accessible in the future?

A fan in 2015 commented:
i don't believe in the internet being more ephemeral than zines really (for me, it seems the opposite it two ways - one, even things that are deleted still seem to be in the wayback machine in many cases... and two - people literally recycle and destroy zines...[64]

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ from Extra Touchy Frisky #1
  2. ^ from KaleidoScope #8
  3. ^ Where to get Star TRek Voyager P/K AND P/T fanfiction???? post to alt.startrek.creative dated August 1, 1999.
  4. ^ Betty R at Gen Fic Crit
  5. ^ a September 1999 interview with Judith Gran, accessed 5.15.2011
  6. ^ Franzeska in “Re: Sharing and Preserving Printed FanFic” from Zinelist, quoted by permission, 6.1.2011
  7. ^ Mako's Tank: Daily Ravings of a Slash Hysteric -- Rant Ahead/reference link, posted December 1, 2001, accessed June 5, 2013
  8. ^ from Not Tonight, Spock! #2
  9. ^ VenicePlace, accessed 12.15.2010;webcite
  10. ^ VenicePlace, accessed 12.15.2010; webcite
  11. ^ from the editorial in Leave a Light On for Me
  12. ^ The Starsky & Hutch Lending Library, accessed 12.15.2010. As of 2010, no progress has been made on the Library's digitization plans. The current debate is whether to use an opt-in only model with offline distribution on timed-out CD disks. Basically, the concept of online distribution and open access to historical records remains elusive.
  13. ^ My Life in Fandom: Presentation and Purpose; WebCite, accessed 5.4.2011
  14. ^ from the editorial in Wild Cards #5
  15. ^ Alexfandra, from Virgule-L, quoted with permission (February 2, 1994)
  16. ^ From Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed October 4, 2010
  17. ^ Orion Press, accessed 12.7.2010
  18. ^ a b c No More Zines? :-( as posted by the-othersandy on August 15, 2007; Webcite.
  19. ^ a b c d How to publish a 'zine (was: fanfic on the net) post to alt.startrek.creative dated May 31, 1999.
  20. ^ a b comment in the Grr post on LJ dated June 23, 201;reference link.
  21. ^ from Implosion #5
  22. ^ from a review of The Other Side of Paradise #2 from The Halkan Council #24
  23. ^ from a review of Interphase from The Halkan Council #10
  24. ^ a long-time fan writes a letter with a focus of the purpose of LoCs and reviews in Comlink #44
  25. ^ from Datazine #8
  26. ^ from The Hatstand Express #10
  27. ^ Comment by batgurl10 in Poll: I'd like to hear your thoughts. Post by fluterbev, 26 February 2009. webcitation.
  28. ^ Livejournal posts by fluterbev. Poll: I'd like to hear your thoughts (webcite) and Meta: Profiting from fanfiction (a follow up to my recent poll) (webcite). 26–27 February 2009. (accessed October 4, 2010). See discussion in comments.
  29. ^ conversation at VenciePlace, quoted here anonymously
  30. ^ May 4, 2002, comment on VenicePlace, quoted anonymously
  31. ^ a b Comment from nicky69 in Poll: I'd like to hear your thoughts. Post by fluterbev, 26 February 2009. webcitation
  32. ^ See the Star Trek Dealer's List (VERY LONG !!) post to rec.arts.startrek dated September 7, 1990.
  33. ^ "Feminists who are interested in erotica written by women for women should find themselves very able to "stomach" K/S. They should check out the rave review of K/S written by SF feminist author Joanna Russ in a fanzine named NOME, "Another Addict Raves about K/S." Naturally there is a spectrum of material--from mild to X-rated, from well-written to total trash. This material is widely circulated, but not "Published" in the ordinary, or profit-making sense, and is in fact underground material of great interest to the participants--the writers, readers and editors. Unfortunately, attention paid to K/S for its feminist importance, may be damaging to fandom as a whole, if Paramount gets too interested in it. Starsky/Hutch and Star Wars fandoms were severely restricted by paranoid producers. Joanna has refused to supply the names of K/S editors and writers to the editors of Penthouse FORUM--but FORUM is interested. As for the writers involved, writing fan material is wonderful fun, and may just provide the impetus for writers to break into publication, as a number of fan writers have. While it is true that REAL SF writers look askance at Trek as formula fiction, the first item of importance to most aspiring writers is GETTING PUBLISHED. Trek is a "hungry" market." Requested information on K/S post dated August 14, 1985. The info about K/S was offered in response to an inquiry by a net.starttrek fan after reading about K/S in a Kirkland, Washington area newspaper. See Star Trek erotica?!? dated August 6, 1985. Read a cautious follow-up reply here.
  34. ^ Blake's 7 Address Listing (1/7) dated October 10, 1992. A few months earlier fans had also posted slash and gen Blake's 7 fanzine publisher addresses, along with a discussion of slash and their ordering experiences. See Blakes 7 Fanzines dated April 1992 and More on B7 zines dated April 17, 1993.
  35. ^ Kirk/Spock zines dated September 20, 1992.
  36. ^ SW fanzine list dated December 17, 1993.
  37. ^ QL Fanzine List Update + Reviews dated June 20, 1994.
  38. ^ BSG Digest 100 post to rec.arts.sf.tv dated April 17, 1995.
  39. ^ fanzines post to net.tv.drwho dated January 31, 1984.
  40. ^ Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed November 18, 2012.
  41. ^ Charlotte Hill's post to the Virgule-L mailing list dated September 14, 1995, quoted with permission. Today, 17 years later, she adds that given how exuberantly open slash fandom has become, it deserved "its own damn marquee on Times Square."
  42. ^ One of these details illustrated just how unfamiliar most fans were with the Internet and computer technology. While the project coordinator thought she had obtained permission from the editor of On the Double to include the adzine's publishing info, the editor claimed she had no idea it was going onto a 'public' website. Another detail was that even before the website address was leaked, the owner stripped much of the contact info because she was worried that URL would be leaked (as it was – by the very zine publishers she was attempting to protect.) Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed November 18, 2012.
  43. ^ Note: This library was open until 2006, so either this announcement was an interruption in service, or a false alarm.
  44. ^ Sandy Hereld's post "the web and fandom..." to the Virgule-L mailing list dated November 1, 1995, quoted with permission.
  45. ^ The editors of Plastic Cow Press received a phone call from a reporter writing an article about slash fandom during which he requested a copy of their adzine Media Monitor. Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes accessed Feb 26, 2014.
  46. ^ The June 1996 version of the website read: "Hello and welcome to the Slash Home Page! My name is Kronette. (note: this is the fan's current pseud. She used her real name at the time). I'll be your host, taking you through the maze of depraved, disgusting, and downright delicious story montage! I am just the 'keeper' here; all authors retain copyrights over their stories. Do not publish, pass around, or otherwise attempt to make any money off of them, or we'll come after you. A quick explanation -- this page was created to give us slashers one central place for our stories. After the authors listing, you'll find stories by said author and where to obtain their stories. Just click on the author's name and away you go! Once at said author's list, clicking on their name will let you send email directly to them; some have their own web pages where their stories are available. I'll update this as I get new information!" Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed November 19, 2012.
  47. ^ Please Not In Front Of The Klingons Captain by Gareth Branwyn dated September 1996. In a sidebar, Gareth noted that as soon as he had contacted the zine publishers they vanished and some refused to send him any further details. See Access To Slash Sidebar.
  48. ^ "Just when I think I'm so blase, and so over the 'outing' of slash on the net conversation, something else boggles my mind...Remember when some people went ballistic on this list over a proposed page? I'm on another list that's currently agonizing over whether to have a slash web page, (you know, the same things we argued about: what's the state of the art for security, should you list people's full names, and contact addresses, should you explain what slash is...). Slash-sis list went through it a few months back when their page (which they thought was unsearchable), was used as a starting place for a web article on slash. It's fascinating to watch the questions unfold again, each time with a little more information left over from last time..." Sandy Hereld's post to Virgule-L mailing list dated November 7, 1996.
  49. ^ By 1997, Fan Fiction on the Net began listing slash zine info, along with slash websites. KnightWriter Press' zine website predates 1998. The earliest archived website for Agent With Style dates back to 1998. Teeny Gozer Production set up Fanzines.com in 1998.
  50. ^ Excerpts from the July 2009 "PSA to Fanfic Writers"
    "If you are a Fanfic writer or Artist please go to this ebay site doctor_beth2000 and check to see if YOUR fanworks or someones you know and like are being sold as Fanzines for profit in what appears to be a very lucrative and active operation." petzipellepingo, dated July 29, 2009 and
    "I've never charged anyone for my fan works and actually turned down an invitation to a fanzine because I disliked the idea that anyone would have to pay for my creations, even if it was purportedly just for production costs. Seeing the 'real' fanzines listed for sale in that Ebay store just adds to my personal reasons not to participate in such projects." cited in 'Interesting copyright infringement issue', Fandom Lawyers, dated July 29, 2009).
  51. ^ :"Publishing and selling a fanzine is not a crime. It is not (although this is arguable) a violation of copyright (see 'fair use' defense). Publishing and selling a fanzine is no greater of a copyright violation than publishing your fan fiction online (in fact, more and more courts are skipping over the exchange of money when applying the fair use defense, so free online fan fiction does not necessarily get greater legal protection). Fans have been publishing and selling fan fiction in the form of fanzines for over 30 years. Let's not try to rewrite history to fit current flashpoints in the copyright debate."' from 'Fanzines and Fan Fiction Are Not Crimes, Morgan Dawn's blog dated July 26, 2009.
  52. ^ Common misperceptions as to the legality of fan fiction overall often lead to a chilling effect dissuading fans from participating in fanzine publications. Compare these discussions about the legality of fanzines:
    "I'm pretty sure that what doctor_beth2000 is doing is illegal on quite a few levels. It is a violation of copyright law to make a profit off of someone else's work without permission. Fanzines normally are given for free or nominal cost - because of this rule. The original creators of the work could sue them, and the fanfic writers could potentially sue."petzipellepingo, July 26, 2009[1] and
    "While it is permitted to create a fanzine and to sell one, you have to get permission from the owners of the work first. IF you do not, then you are in violation of Copyright Law", shadowkat67, July 26, 2009
    with the fair use and legal discussion in 'Interesting copyright infringement issue', Fandom Lawyers, dated July 29, 2009. It is not surprising then that this leads to the following negative attitudes towards fanzines in general:
    "I do not charge for what I'm creating for my fandoms. In return, all I ask is that no one else charge for my work either." danceswithgary, July 25, 2009 and
    "I've often thought about making zines of some off my BtVS fic. Online archives are fine, but there's nothing quite as satisfying as holding concrete proof of your literary efforts in your hands. Stuff like this, though, pretty much ensures I'm never going to do it. I guarantee that the updates and clarifications are not going to spread half so far across the net as the original accusations." rahirah, July 26, 2009
  53. ^ See Tushnet's User-Generated Discontent: Transformation in Practice, 2008 in which she argues that the non-profit aspect needs to play a more central role when courts analyze transformative works.
  54. ^ June 1999 comments at Venice Place
  55. ^ a b comment to the difference between fanfic and profic, dated April 6, 2007, accessed Feb 9, 2011; WebCite.
  56. ^ My Life in Fandom: Presentation and Purpose, accessed 5.4.2011
  57. ^ Gen Fic Crit Mailing List, March 2002
  58. ^ Betty R at Gen Fic Crit Mailing List, March 2002
  59. ^ Sheila P at Gen Fic Crit Mailing List, March 2002
  60. ^ Biffan at Gen Fic Crit Mailing List, March 2002
  61. ^ Judith's FB for "The Word Withheld"/ zine vs. net writing? (November 8, 2000)
  62. ^ olderthannetfic.tumblr, April 28, 2017
  63. ^ comments by ar at Fancake, April 3, 2012
  64. ^ comment by Aralias at more reviews! Part 2, December 28, 2015