Xerography Debt #34
Available from Microcosm
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Cover Art by Bojan (Rigor Mortis) and Botda
TABLE OF CONTENTS
So many new words for what we do are bandied about – self-publishing, artisanal publishing, diy publishing, independent publishing, and small press are just a few. Just a few short years ago "self-publishers" were maligned and the only way to be "recognized" as a writer or publisher was to get a deal with a "real" publisher. That was the state of zines and the publishing industry for me for much of my publishing life (I work in the book industry by day). My worlds were separate and distinct. And then technology came along like a beneficent Godzilla and smashed the walls between worlds.
In XEROGRAPHY DEBT #29 I wrote a column about the changes I was seeing within the book industry and how that related to zines. I wondered if books were killing off zines, but now think that the two are simply one in the same. I also heard Richard Nash (Soft Skull Press) link zines to current publishing trends last year. That and recently released book industry data make me think my insane theories have some basis in fact (yay, not crazy!). My proof is evidenced in my reviews in this issue. More than half of the zines I reviewed were perfect bound books, some with ISBNs. And yes, I still consider them zines because in my opinion content and motivation trumps format. I also consider them books and so does the publishing industry.
In the article I wrote in XD #29, I mentioned the growth in new books based on new ISBNs (from 113,589 in 1995 to 347,178 in 2011). Bowker, the agency that sells and monitors ISBN use, saw this trend and also started looking at how self-publishers were fueling these numbers. Last year Bowker said the number of self-published books increased 287% since 2006. Just as this issue went to print Bowker released yet more information and said, "A new analysis of U.S. ISBN data by ProQuest affiliate Bowker reveals that the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011 and 422 percent over 2007. Ebooks continue to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007." And these numbers don't account for the books that are published without an ISBN, which is going to balloon the number further. (You can read more of the report here.
I read a fair amount -- several books a month, usually in paper or audio, and of course, I read zines. I think it is worth noting that I read two recent novels by two of my favorite writers, both quite acclaimed. I walked away from both novels thinking, "Meh." On the other hand, the zine-books I read recently impressed me more and I have recommended them to friends and found myself thinking about them long after the last page. That's right, Anne Thalheimer and Kelly Dessaint trumped Zadie Smith and John Irving. Their words and emotions rang truer and connected with me as a reader.
Zinesters don't like limitations. We all try and stretch the boundaries of what can be done with photocopies and staples, but if what we have to say can't be stapled, moving to book format makes perfect sense. I'm bit selfish in my glee thinking these technology and cultural changes mean that I get more and better reading material. I am also a bit immature so to my beloved publishing industry, "Nah-nah, I told you so."Davida