Zineswap

Supporting a global subculture

Introduction

Zineswap is a service. Zine-makers all over the world can use Zineswap to trade zines with one another, serendipitously—no-one ever knows what they’ll get back in the post when they chose to trade their zines. It is a personal project, and born out of a love of zines and a DIY ethos, so I explain it slightly differently to the other projects.

The zines that lived under the bed

What is it?

It takes massive amounts of passion to make a zine. They’re generally about niche to micro-niche subjects, and made in tiny print-runs on archaic machinery. Every copy is an up-hill struggle.

My friend and I realised we were reading a lot of zines, and not contributing anything back. We wanted to do something to show our appreciation. So we devised Zineswap. When you make a zine, you can send us a handful, and we’ll send you a handful of random zines back in return. We keep two zines as an admin fee, which we exhibit as part of the archive every now-and-again.

The beginnings

Having never offered any kind of service before, we naively began putting the word out, not sure what kind of response we’d get. We organised a launch party, sent out fliers, and started stockpiling the zines we’d received in a box under my bed. The response was way beyond what we expected, and the launch party was a great success.

Workshop at Tate Britain

Growing

Word spreads quickly in small circles. Before we knew it we had been invited to Maastricht to take part in an art fair, we had been written about in a Japanese magazine, run workshops for Tate galleries, and we wrote a regular column in Dazed magazine. It’s funny how you can become an ‘authority’ on something just by being proactive.

Workshop at Tate Modern

Present and Future

We have swapped somewhere in the region of 500+ zines over the last six years or so, and we continue to do so. The last swap saw us sending zines as far afield as Brazil and Azerbaijan. We’d love to find a permanent home for the archive and display copies so that they can be enjoyed more regularly by a wider group of people.

Zineswap column in Dazed

Zineswap in Quotation Mag (JP)

A spread from our 2nd birthday publication

We still run it in a very DIY fashion

Key Learning

It’s easy to have an idea. It’s much harder to bring it to life.