Are Zines Dead? Reviving Alternative Media in a Digital World

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Are Zines Dead? Reviving Alternative Media in a Digital World


To answer the rhetorical question… sort of. 90s-style zines are irrevocably, irretrievably dead. For one thing, digital music has rendered fan zines effectively obsolete, as music lovers can turn to Genius, Spotify, Soundcloud, or Pandora to discover new bands. Resources like Bandcamp and social networking sites allow bands to self-publicize. So, yes, zines as they were have been dead for some time    Alternative Media  . Yet the popular ones live on as websites or proper magazines. Just as other art forms, like swing and Dada, enjoy the occasional revival, zines, too, are being re-imagined. As a result, their graphics and production values have improved dramatically. You can find them fresh off the Sunday press, or online. If you wish to start a zine, whether you are focusing on poetry, politics, music, or any other topic, you’ll definitely find a market and an audience. Make sure you have the proper equipment to reach them.

Local or national? Buy for the present, but plan for future growth.
Do you want to focus on local issues-politics, musicians, and events? If so, you can probably get away with a smaller Heidelberg printing press. Depending on the size of your audience, a device like this can also allow you to reach out beyond your home state without sacrificing quality. Just make sure to keep on top of your order requests-printing presses are faster than ever, but they still take a while to print out thousands of copies.

Which inks are most cost effective?
Black and white may feel more “authentic.” After all, it hearkens back to the days when punk kids would pump $10 in dimes into the library copier to distribute their zines. But the modern reader has been inundated with high quality graphics and printing. Even fliers and business cards are produced on high quality Goss Sunday presses. So if you do decide on black and white make sure you aren’t relying on low-quality copies. Go with something reliable, like a printing press from Heidelberg. Your readers won’t want to come back if you don’t wow them with your production values.

Recruit advertisers and writers before you start production.
You can’t do it on your own. The best printing presses will never make up for inferior content and insufficient cash. Work with likeminded people to develop an aesthetic and intellectual philosophy behind your zine. What is your purpose? Do you want to promote local artists? Support a political cause or agenda? Bring the whole system down in whiny, ’90s fashion? Whatever you decide, you should absolutely have a six month plan before laying down the funds for a Heidelberg printing press.


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