Monday, January 3, 2011

Zines live!

I thought that zines were dead — or, at least, had mostly migrated to the Web — until I happened to visit Internationalist Books in downtown Chapel Hill last week. Maybe this was a surprise only because there are no independent bookstores within easy driving distance of my home in Maryland (save for the tiny bookshop that is more gift shop than book nook). But there in the back of the narrow store was a bookshelf of tiny, amateur-looking magazines with black and white graphics.

It's hard to describe the feelings that rushed over me in that moment—déjà vu, relief, hope and maybe, almost, happiness. It was wonderful to see a group of folks still stubbornly bucking the trend toward electronic publishing, even reveling in their primitive publication methods. Of the four zines I bought, one was typed on a typewriter and photocopied, another was hand set on a printing press, another was hand-assembled, its pages stapled unevenly.

I admire the publishers' perseverance, though I know I'm unlikely to go down that road again myself.

If every action has a counter-action then my purchase of those four zines was perhaps balanced (or weakened) the same day when I downloaded the Kindle App for the iPod I received for Christmas. Already I've put Pride and Prejudice (free) on it and a collection of poetry (also free) from the Poetry Foundation. My excuse is that I sometimes find myself waiting in doctors' offices with nothing to read except a stack of People magazines on the table beside me, mad at myself that I've forgotten to put a book or small magazine in my purse. I tell myself it's better that I'm reading poetry rather than news of Snooki or real housewives, but I'm not sure that I'm innocent of the murder of paper publishing as I flip the digital pages with a flick of my finger...

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