The Zine Yearbook is back, now to be published by Microcosm.
Basically, to be considered for the 2007 edition, just mail your zine to Microcosm 222 S Rogers St. Bloomington, IN 47404 by December 31, 2007.
While I am first and foremost very happy to see the return of the Zine Yearbook (an anthology of the best zines of the year), I am nervous to see Microcosm amassing even more power. I want to state very clearly here that I have nothing against Microcosm, and I have been friendly with Joe whenever I've seen him at zine fests, and that we've emailed on occasion about one thing or another. This is not personal against Microcosm.
I also need to state that I am truly thrilled that someone took this project on. I, among others I assume, refused when the former editors (or perhaps one of the zine librarians? I don't entirely remember.) brought it up. Since I was unwilling to say, "I'll do it!" perhaps it's a little obnoxious of me to criticize the person or group that was willing. But that's just not how I am!
With the above apologies and disclaimers out of the way, I'll get to it. Microcosm has done an incredible service to zine buyers, especially librarians, by having such a sophisticated online store and by the outreach they do with us. By being so good, however, it makes them very difficult to compete with. Of course that's not their problem or responsibility; it's ours. The buyers, zinesters, librarians, etc. If every library buys exclusively from Microcosm, our collections will all look alike. What the hell is the point of having a zine collection, if it's just going to look like all the others? Zines grow out of a DIY movement that favors individuality. We cannot represent that movement if we all collect the same way. Relying too heavily on one distributor essentially turns over selection to that distro. Each distro has its own niche. Microcosm rejects many zines based on the collective members' taste and their experience with what sells. Making decisions like that is their job, but it's ours to make sure that we expose our readers to more variety, and to zines that do not necessarily sell well.
So when I hear that that same small group of people would be making decisions about which zines will be recognized in a reputable publication as the year's best, I worry. It's even sort of a conflict of interest, considering that they are not just the reviewers now but perhaps the largest seller of zines online. I find it a little creepy, but I still may send in my zine, which by the way generally comes out in early December, so I find the 12/31 deadline a little intense.
For those interested in other zine distros, here are some I have used or heard good things about
- C/S Distro, especially good for zines by mamas and women of color. It's run by Noemi Martinez, a woman of a million projects.
- So as not to discriminate against our friends north of the border, Great Worm Express, out of Canada.
- Learning to Leave a Paper Trail run by Ciara Xyerra a prolific zinester with excellent taste in zines. She keeps a relatively small, but well chosen stock. Sort of like Stew Leonard's grocery stores.
- Loop Distro in Chicago, run by Billy who has among his zines one called Proof I Exist, which I think is a perfect title for a zine.
- Parcell Press. They take anything, which makes them extremely democratic, but of course sometimes it's nice to have someone weeding out the crap. They have an info for libraries page; you've got to appreciate that!
- Another distro run by a mama (Sage Adderly) is Sweet Candy. I've had pleasant dealings with Sage and encourage folks to support her and her work. Plus she's in Dallas now, so I bet orders and pen pals are more welcome than ever. She's even got a real live store and library.