Fanzines, or 'zines', were a form of independent personal publishing before the existence of websites, weblogs and myspace. Zines are not reliant on any publisher or mainstream distributor, not motivated by profit and not filtered though an editorial or regulatory board. In fact zines are less regulated and censored than many of their digital counterparts and are therefore an ideal space for free, uninhibited expression. Zines can be dedicated to any imaginable point of view, idea, phenomenon or thing.
Contemporary zines are distributed through dedicated zine networks (mail order and specialist outlets) and through specialized communities of people that share an interest in the idea or phenomenon that the zine promotes or celebrates. The commercial pressure is so low that some zines are unique one-offs that never find an audience.
The zine form suits countercultural expression because it can be defined and controlled by the maker or 'zinester'. Creative and editorial control, and cheap, easy methods of production and reproduction all help to counteract problems of misrepresentation that many countercultures have encountered in the mainstream press.
For more about zines in the British Library's Collections, click here.