Sunday, May 07, 2006

High end zines; a contradiction in terms?

There is a bull market these days in articles that start out: "The traditional magazine model is dead." Which is how a May 7 article in the New York Times (free sub requ'd), by Jessica Pressler, kicked off when talking about the growth of high-end "zines". Now, aside from the fact that the "zines" she was talking about are to true zines as today's "lofts" are to lofts, there were a lot of interesting perspectives which are worth checking out. (The article was mostly about quite expensive, vanity productions with cover prices ranging up to US$14.95 -- a far cry from photocopied, hand-collated precursors.)

Curiously, the article quoted an account manager from a Winnipeg printer: " 'It's like this whole culture.'...Over the phone, he cited a handful of titles he has helped start up in the last six years: 'The Believer, Lemon, Clamor, Swindle, Anthem, Beautiful/Decay, Bidoun, Re:Up, Archetype, The Drama. There's so many.' Though he wouldn't say how many copies he printed of each magazine, he said the runs are anywhere from 4,000 to approximately 50,000."

The creators of these publications suit themselves and celebrate the very ephemeral nature of their creations, acknowledging that when they start to ape traditional magazines in their business models, people lose interest.


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