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Zines, Pamphlets, Artists' Publications, and Chapbooks: The World of Self-Publishing & Small Press

This zine provides history, context, and resources for students and faculty seeking to learn more about alternative publications as protest, as alternative culture, as art practice, and as community resource.

Zine Orientation

"Whatcha Mean, What's a Zine?"  (title borrowed from the book by Esther Watson and Mark Todd)

In general, zines (pronouned "zeen" as in magazine) are self-published booklets created by people seeking expression and community. Zines are folded or stapled and therefore portable and flexible. They require no Internet connection to read. They usually do require some technology to make. In general, zines were born on photocopiers of the 20th Century. In short, a zine is a Do-It-Yourself pamphlet publication that can be endlessly reproduced. Zines are usually not unique, one-of-a-kind creations.

Imagine a subject. There's probably a zine about it! Zines range from seriously reverent political treatises to wildly idiosyncratic personal musings. Many zines are like diaries or letters, and many others are like mini research papers. Overall, the paper format prevails in the zine world, but this guide includes some discussion about e-zines and digitized, historical zines.

Zine publishing and creation is more popular than ever, but zines are just part of the larger world of independent publishing. This guide is for students and faculty who want to learn about the making, writing, printing, and publishing of not only zines but many other types of publications such as pamphlets, poetry chapbooks, posters, flyers, religious tracts, artists' books, photobooks, alternative press, little magazines, small press, and even vinyl and cassette objects.



The Physical Details of Booklets

Book printers manufacture paperback books with a form of bookbinding called perfect binding, in which their pages are glued together to form a spine. Booklets like zines are not perfectly bound but are saddle stitched, a printer's term for stapled or wire stitched, or saddle sewn, bound with a needle and thread or string. A "foldy" zine consist of several pages folded together without any binding. Booklets tend to be produced in small runs, sometimes in numbered editions. Zines, chapbooks, and pamphlets share the booklet form.