Strange New Worlds Issue 4 - Oct/Nov 1992
FanZines : Are They "Collectibles"?
by Karen Ann Yost
(This article is a follow-up to Ms.
Yost's story "The Few, The Proud, The Insane, The Fanzine Publishers!" in issue
#3 of Strange New Worlds.)
You've heard fans talk about them. You've seen them at cons.
You've even read about the in the last issue of Strange New Worlds; but are media fanzines
really collectible? Well, yes and no.
Fans have been collecting fanzines since zines first appeared on
the Star Trek convention scene in the late 1960s. Today, collectors continue to
add these amateur fan publications to their private collections, despite their relative
high cost due to limited print runs of a few hundred copies. Early mimeographed zines
averaged 50 to 100 pages and cost between $5.00 and $10.00. Modern computer-generated
zines can run over 300 pages, have full-color artwork, and cost between $15.00 and $35.00.
People usually collect zines for personal enjoyment. Some fans may
be drawn to a zine due to its beautiful artwork, while others may be attracted by a zine's
particular subject matter. Some people stick with zines that feature one television show
and other fans purchase multimedia fanzines covering many different media universes.
Rarely would one want to purchase fanzines as an investment.
Unlike many science fiction collectibles, zines tend to lose their value over time.
Currently most publishers keep all of their zines in print, so you can buy a third or
fourth printing of a zine instead of buying a used copy from a dealer. That's why if you
look through a dealer's used zine box at a convention, the fanzines you find will usually
be a few dollars less than the original purchase price.
Occasionally an oddity can turn up. "The Professionals"
alternate universe zine, "The Master of the Revels," commands a higher resale
price than the original publisher's price due to a limited print-run, no subsequent
reprintings, a fantastic story, and beautiful artwork. A few older Star Trek
fanzines also resell for high prices, but this tends to be the exception rather than the
Another factor that keeps resale prices down is the ever-available
photocopy machine. Friends like to swap zines and photocopy them to save a little money.
There is little publishers can do about unauthorized photocopying on such a small scale,
but they have made an effort to stop unscrupulous dealers who bootleg hundreds of copies
and sell them at a profit. Some publishers identify their zines with a special stamp,
number each copy, and give a description of their publication on the title page with a
stern warning against unauthorized copying.
So, while you won't become rich by hoarding your collection for 20
years, fanzines are still an integral part of science fiction fandom. Zines keep fandoms
fresh and alive years after a network has canceled a television show or a movie has
disappeared from theaters. They also offer a forum for talented writers and artists who
ortherwise would never see their work in print. And, finally, zines provide fans with hours
of escape into strange new worlds during the long, hot summer of endless television