Taking in the Zinery

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The PDX Zine Symposium is in its ninth year now, so it seemed like time for me to actually go visit for a day and take in a couple workshops. But first, the attendees: despite the impression some people may have of non-sf zines being a dying culture ruled by aging hippie men, the crowd here was almost exclusively under 30, and about 60% female. So if anyone's worried about the future of niche amateur publishing, don't be.

There is some truth to the political stereotypes. The first session I went to was "Never go to Kinkos again!". I was interested in checking out production alternatives to see if they might be any cheaper, but several of the people attending wanted alternatives because Kinko's, having become a national chain and then been absorbed into FedEx, is now a big evil corporation that must be avoided at all costs.

There wasn't much said about places to do actual production, because the presenter assumed that of course you want to acquire your own printing, stapling, etc. machines, or at least join a cooperative that has some. He did have some useful tips on acquiring them, though:

Must of the rest of the talk was on places to get paper and other zinemaking materials. On the national front, I have written down: Xpedx/Arvey, Kelly Paper, American Science & Surplus, upholstery and kite stores which have scraps they want to get rid of, and southeast Asian (but not Japanese) grocery stores. And, if you're in Portland: S.C.R.A.P., City Liquidators, and Habitat for Humanity's outlet store.

There was a little bit on alternate copy places: BiMart and WinCo were mentioned briefly as employee-owned and non-evil corporations, there's apparently a Portland-local copy chain called Documart, and then there's the Independent Publishing Resource Center, which there was to be a tour of in the afternoon.

So after some zine trading at lunch, several of us assembled for the short walk to the IPRC, which actually was about a mile, since the symposium was at Portland State and the IPRC is in the appropriately funky part of town, occupying three suites in that triangular building across from Powell's. Here they have practically all the materials a zinester needs, including computers for layout, copy machines, stamps, a recently acquired perfect binder (for doing book-type bindings), and, for those of you who think you're being retro by keeping your mimeograph running, an entire room of antique letterpress equipment. Nothing to help with booklet-folding, though, which is the thing that will keep me going back to Kinko's.

They also offer workshops, and maintain a zine library, some of which is on display in their front room for any visitors to rummage through. (I went for the one box labeled "Science Fiction", only to find it full of objects labeled Science, and to discover that apparently Skeptical Inquirer counts as a zine.)

So, in all, a great community resource, albeit one that I will probably not use.

As for the symposium, I expect I'll drop by again next year, if I have the chance...

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