Zines Are Not Blogs: A Not Unbiased Analysis

Freedman, Jenna

Zines and blogs are both low budget--if you have access to an Internet computer. Clearly the publishers of The Zine Yearbook, Jen Angel and Jason Kucsma, get the zines vs. blogs query a lot, too, since they addressed the issue in the introduction to Volume 8 of the Yearbook. As they put it, "You don't need any specialized equipment to broadcast over the airwaves or record your ideas, and you don't even need a computer to create or view zines. All you need is a pen, paper, and a couple of dollars for the copy machine. . . . Because there are no economic barriers to creating zines, they far bridge the digital divide (the gap between those who have access--and how much access--and those who do not) as a grassroots and decentralized form of media. You're getting the voices of anyone with the gumption to put their words on paper--not simply those who have access to a computer." Zines are not entirely free to create either, but historically, part of the art of zining has been scamming as many of the materials and copies as possible. A primary feature of blogging is its instant gratification. Something interesting happens, the blogger remembers a dream, or zhe reads a funny post on another blog, and within moments of having that experience, zhe can publish what happened and hir reaction to it for most any other Internet enabled person to see--and link to. Although there is a genre of "24-hour zines," for quick turnaround, speed is not the norm in zine publishing. Notes [Chris Dodge], "I think the key distinction is that a blog posting tends to be written and published on the spur of the moment, as opposed to a zine's creation over time. Most zines tend to be compiled, with material gathered, written, or drawn over weeks, months, or years, and actually edited, if only by the zine publisher herself. Thus they are more like little self-published books than blogs." Zines, although they're called ephemera in library lingo, are actually a lot more permanent than blogs. The zine reader gets to keep the thing forever. When the reader returns to the zine, unless zhe has spilled coffee on it or wrought some other type of damage, it will be the same. It may disappear due to the holder's negligence, but not because the zinester couldn't maintain hir domain name or website or could have, but got sick of doing so. A factor so significant in defining the difference between zines and blogs that it's shocking this issue is so far down in this piece is that zines are finished products (even if serials catalogers don't think so). [Blogs] are not. No matter how sloppy a zine is--and they really can be a mess--someone has taken responsibility for the thing as a whole. Blogs are in danger of only being as strong as their most recent post. The pressure is to add to it daily. Zinesters also put pressure on themselves to produce more regularly, but ultimately it doesn't matter much. I am sad when my friend [Celia C. Perez] doesn't send out a new zine for a year, but that doesn't make me any less likely to read the new one when it finally comes. In fact, the delay adds to the thrill. If the blogger doesn't post for a couple of weeks, zhe may lose hir readership altogether.



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Barnard Library and Academic Information Services
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August 17, 2011