Pictured above: handmade books and zines at the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
For a while, I was into the zinescene and put out a few myself (recently reviving it after traveling for a month). I realized that, despite reading a heckuva lot of blogs by people who enjoyed writing and crafts, I wasn’t hearing a whole lot about zines.
As someone who knows a thing or two about social media trends, would you say the ease of creating an online presence has usurped the need for personal zines? Have zines evolved into blogs? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.
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The Internet, at least for now, is not particularly tactile and cannot satisfy all our senses. Online content can appeal to our senses of sight and sound, but it lacks a scent and texture. Go ahead; try to touch the cute kitten in that YouTube video; your fingers are going to hit the screen.
Blogs are fairly two-dimensional publishing platforms. Zines, however, are tactile objects that a reader can hold, touch, smell, and see. Currently, no blog can duplicate the feeling of holding a zine or a handmade book.
I recently attended the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Denver, CO. At the book fair, dozens of small publishers showcased their handmade books and zines, or literary magazines. Many of these handmade books were printed in limited editions, bound by hand, and adorned with original art. In some cases, I the creators were binding their books at their exhibition tables.
No matter what anyone tells you, know that zines and handmade books are alive! If you’re unsure about whether or not you’re wasting time by creating zines, you should ask yourself one question: what is the purpose of your zine?
Are you using the zine to promote your writing? If so, then yes, blogs have replaced zines. Blogs are generally free, they can attract a potentially unlimited audience, and they offer the ease of push-button publishing. Self-editing and archiving on a blog is easier and more efficient.
Are you using the zine to promote your artistic capabilities? Stick with the zine! You can probably express a lot more of your creativity and talent with a zine than you can with a blog, especially if you’re not a web programming genius. If you’re creating zines for the love of creating zines, then you shouldn’t worry about publishing trends. Zines are an art form for those who put love into making them.
Online publishing and print publishing do not have to be mutually exclusive. Many people use social media to promote the things they do and publish offline.
Have you ever heard of Etsy? Etsy is an online craft hub and marketplace. They have a thriving community of crafters who create and sell handmade books and zines. Etsy’s users leverage social media (sharing pictures, videos, and stories about the process online) to help them promote their handmade books and zines.
You can also use Twitter to find other people who love to make zines offline. Visit search.twitter.com and search for “zines”. Some people use flickr to upload pictures of their zines and show off their work.
If you love a craft, you should practice it, no matter what. Don’t think too much about trends. If you recognize a need for a blog, then you should be the one to start that blog! Just think about how many other people online have the same questions that you do; use social media to find those people and empower the community as a whole.