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Creating Traditional vs. Online Zines

There's a gut-level difference between zines started on paper and those started on the Web. If a person decides to create a physical zine, it's because they have some obsession they must present to the world. In some cases, the act of creating is more pertinent than the product. If a person creates a Web-based zine, it might simply be an experiment in making a Webpage. This isn't to say that e-zines are not labors of love, but it may be difficult for an online viewer to know this.17a b

Beyond this visceral distinction, there are plenty of practical differences. Aside from just producing and organizing the content of the zine, paper zines still require a good deal of literal cutting-and-pasting. Every block of copy, every tiny bit of artwork (either original or nipped from some other source) must be laid out and glued down, and heaven help you if you decide to rearrange layout. From a creative standpoint, this can be time-consuming and frustrating.

With the e-zine, there is no physical manipulation of clip art and copy. Artwork can be cropped and altered easily with Adobe Photoshop or similar programs. Copy can be edited and rearranged with a word processor before being posted to the Web. Certainly it can be argued that these options are available when producing a paper zine,18 but the online zine is always available for editing and updating. The paper zine must at some point become a static entity.

Once a zine is created, the next steps are duplication and distribution. In the physical world of paper zines, this is where it gets expensive. Most traditional zines are either "duped" at copy shops for several cents a page or on the company Xerox machine at the possible expense of one's job. The larger the circulation of the zine, the greater the expense (in both cases.)

If the zine is sent out by post, then the charge of a stamp must be figured into expenses. If delivered to local record and book stores for distribution, then time and transportation enter the mix. Either way, distribution numbers are limited by funds and geography.

Not so with the e-zine. Most internet service providers these days offer Web-space for their clients. Even if they don't, there are plenty of online businesses that offer Web-space (if you don't mind their banner ads as part of your zine.) Thus, no duplication charges, and distribution is instant and international.19a b

So why would anyone want to create a traditional paper zine?

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