Zines can be difficult to define. The word “zine” is a shortened form of the term fanzine, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Fanzines emerged as early as the 1930s among fans of science fiction. Zines also have roots in the informal, underground publications that focused on social and political activism in the ’60s. By the ’70s, zines were popular on the punk rock circuit. In the ’90s, the feminist punk scene propelled the medium and included such artists as Kathleen Hanna, who produced riot grrrl out of Olympia, Washington.
A zine is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published unique work of minority interest, usually reproduced via photocopier. A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 1,000. Profit is not the primary intent of publication. There are so many types of zines: art and photography zines, literary zines, social and political zines, music zines, perzines (personal zines), travel zines, health zines, food zines. And the list goes on and on.
Rachel Leket-Mor and Michelle Ashley Gohr, librarians at ASU, describe zines and why they are growing in popularity.