Strange New Worlds Issue 8 - Apr/May 1993
Birth of the Audiozine
by Maggie Cooper
Fanzines (a combination of the words "fan" and
"magazine") are amateur publications produced by science fiction, television,
and movie fans. Fanzines, or "zines" for short, have been produced by dedicated
fans since the early 1930s. Originally these zines were only a few pages long,
reproduced as cheaply as possible, and contained only nonfiction articles and commentaries
about popular science fiction.
Modern zines often contain fiction, poetry, and elaborate art. These
publications can easily run over 200 pages. As both desktop publishing and fandom have
become more sophisticated, advances and innovations have flourished within the amateur
Publisher Maggie Cooper has introduced an entirely new format to the world of
zines . . . the audiozine (or azine for short). In the following article, Ms.
Cooper details the origins of her unique concept and the genesis of VAMPIRES!, the first
When my husband Bob and I lived in Italy from 1978 to 1980, I found a wealth of
information to share with family and friends in the States. To save time and my writing
hand I mailed cassette tapes with narratives about our experiences back to the States. Not
until Bob and I returned from abroad did I discover that most of the neighbors had come to
our parents house to listen to my audio stories. I felt honored, but gave the
project no more thought until last year when I developed the audiozine.
The inspiration ignited when Pat Nielsen, director of Small Press Writers and Artists
Organization Criticism Service, asked me to critique a story written by a blind woman. The
woman sent me a printed copy of her work, but she requested I reply on a cassette tape.
This made me think of other blind people unable to afford the machinery available for
"reading" typed pages. I also thought of the twenty percent of Americans who are
illiterate or have no more than a fifth grade reading level. Standard magazines are not
accessible to these people. Could an audio form of magazine serve the needs of these
groups? And what of work-aholics who refuse to take time to read and the over-worked who
cannot find time to read? Would an audiozine interest them?
I advertised for submissions to three test audiozines, (1) poetry, (2) general
interest, (3) horror. I received one poetry submission and nothing for general interest.
The stories I selected for the horror azine were all vampire stories.
Besides fiction, I wanted the azine to include articles and poetry. Finding
poetry was not difficult, since the one poem I had received, "Night" by Robert
Danley, was perfect for a vampire mood. Articles were another matter. Stanislaus Tal of
Tal Publications recommended Nancy Kilpatrick to me as an excellent source for vampire
articles. Nancy, in turn, referred me to vampire organizations and fanzines as potential
market sources. If it had not been for their help I do not think VAMPIRES! would have been
Besides offering a combination of stories, articles, and poetry, the audiozine differs
from other cassette literature in that background effects are excluded, or present only
enough to enhance the mood of the work. I desire a plain reading, preferably by the
author. This unadorned recitation gives a sense of hearing someone reading from a
magazine, rather than an impersonation of old-time radio programs.
The audiozine is still in its infancy with many places for growth and improvement. For
now, I record with nothing more than home equipment of the most spartan quality. This
first issue of VAMPIRES! has no real title cover and the tape jacket is less than one step
above homemade, yet response has been promising. After three months, my first run of tapes
is almost sold out and I am starting a second release. Future azines will include
artwork and perhaps even a few ads. One difficulty I have encountered is getting writers
to submit in audio format. Writers seem bashful about sending recordings of their stories.
The audiozine idea makes sense. After all, there already are cassette learning
packages, cassette books, even a cassette Bible, so why not cassette magazines?
You can listen to an audiozine in environments where reading is impossible. How many
people read magazines while mowing the grass or jogging? An audiozine could be a good
substitution for a music tape while driving along the highway or when stalled in a traffic
In our busy society, we need to invent new ways to relax, even if only for ten or
fifteen minutes at a time. The audiozine can provide those few moments of pleasure.
Hopefully, with time, the azine will expand to other genres for a wider audience.
(WARNING: VAMPIRES! contains material not suitable for minors. Please send an age
statement when ordering through the mail. Maggie Cooper is interested in receiving any
comments or suggestions for improving the audiozine concept.For ordering information write
to Margaret L. Cooper, SMALL PRESS, 11857 Dunn Creek Road, Jacksonville FL 32218-2011.)