Zines first emerged as an alternative method of self-publication and distribution of information that was, for one reason or another, ignored by mainstream or otherwise traditional publishing routes. Historic publishing figures like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and even H.P. Lovecraft can be credited with production of the earliest styles of what would later become “zines.” The concept of independent publishing hit its zenith in the 1960s and 1970s with the “underground” movement of radical ideas; zines were also a key part of the punk movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Independently-produced publications plateaued in the 1990s and beyond with the advent of the internet and its wider reach.
That said, zines are nowhere near extinct yet. In fact, they are still regularly celebrated all over the world, including right here in Philadelphia.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Spiral Bookcase in Manayunk will hold its first-ever zine reading. The independent bookstore is holding the event to celebrate the addition of zines to its extensive reading selection. At the helm of the reading is longtime zinester Sarah Sawyers-Lovett, author of the zine Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric and the book "Everybody Else’s Girl." Sawyers-Lovett also co-hosts the podcast Book Jawn with fellow bibliophile Grace Gordon.
“This reading will focus on the incredible depth and diversity of talent in Philly,” Sawyers-Lovett said. “There will be a few specific readers and the opportunity for others to share their zine work will follow.”
In addition to Sawyers-Lovett herself, the reading will also include selections by Dre Grigoropol (Dee’s Dream), Anna Melton (Dear Rob, Speaking May Relieve Thee) and Khristina Acosta (What To Keep / What To Give Away). All of the authors are instrumental in their local zine communities; Acosta is responsible for the No Shame Distro zine distribution network while Grigoropol and Sawyers-Lovett are instrumental figures in the annual Philly Zine Fest and Philly Feminist Zine Fest.
Spiral Bookcase’s first-ever zine reading kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6. Admission is free. Visit thespiralbookcase.com.