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Book: Behind the Zines

Book: Behind the Zines

‘Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture’ is a new book from German publishers Gestalten. The company have almost developed a whole sideline of books about magazines, having been responsible for distributing the two Colophon books and more recently publishing the hefty ‘Turning Pages’ book. Like that book, the presentation is impressive, with open binding, a cloth cover and foil block titling.

And the content? Any book about magazines has something of interest for we magazinaholics, and this one provides a good record of a number of magCulture favourites including Preston is My Paris, 200% and Ein Magazine Uber Orte. While the title is self-explanatory at first glance, the scope of the publications included ranges from 100-run zines up to mono.kultur’s more ambitious 10,000 print-run. There is self-publishing as a hobby and there is self-publishing as a business.

Although not competing with ‘Turning Pages’, ‘Behind the Zines’ improves on the earlier book’s slightly disjointed editorial focus. It contains good interviews with magazine-makers and publishers, zooms in on related events like the London Zine Symposium, and of course has plenty of visuals.

Anyone with an interest in the subject will argue with what’s included and whats not, but somehow that’s not the point here. ‘Behind the Zines’ reflects a moment in publishing where there is a desire and the ability to make your own publication. Much of what’s included is highly obscure and sometimes even dull to look at – despite being a good-looking publication itself, design doesn’t always appear to have been high on the criteria for inclusion. But there’s plenty of other reasons to be looking. Intriguing content strategies, clever creative concepts, cutting edge publishing. And best of all, the words of the people behind the projects.

Another worthy addition to the magazinaholics bookshelf.

‘Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture’ is published by Gestalten, €39.90, $60.00, £37.50.

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