Mini-magazines known as “Zines” are making a comeback from the 1930s, when the emerged among fans of science fiction and from informal, and in the 60’s from underground publications that focused on social and political activism. Zines are generally made by hand and are available only in small quantities, though they are now talked about, distributed or sold on the Web as well. The quirky industry touches on almost everything, with topics as varied as local food, art, short fiction, music reviews and comics.
Why are these suddenly becoming a popular item? The New York Times reported “the zine is enjoying something of a comeback among the Web-savvy, partly in reaction to the ubiquity of the Internet. Their creators say Zines offer a respite from the endless onslaught of tweets, bog posts, I.M.’s, e-mail and other products of digital media.” The article notes that most Zines spring from side projects and hobbies that do not focus on turning a profit, but rather the freedom to explore and experiment.
This could, however, provide an opportunity for further profiling online shoppers, where Zines are now largely distributed. The specialized nature of Zines provides valuable information about consumers, and this could be key in news media aggregates business, which is why, some argue, small publications have been included in the larger publishing scope (for instance, Amazon’s “singles”).
It is also interesting, as The New York Times article notes, that the apetite for zines is growing when it has never been easier – or cheaper – to publish content online, thanks to free blogging services like Tumblr, WordPress and Posterous.
Especially for artists, writers, and creative minds, this emerging trend is one to watch. Zines are beginning to appear in galleries and offbeat bookstores, like New York’s Printed Matter. We’ll just have to see how they continue to grow in interest and availability in tandem with digital magazines.