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Zinester's Guide to NYC

By Ayun Halliday


Zine Libraries!

ABC No Rio Zine Library
156 Rivington St, 2nd floor (btwn Clinton & Suffolk)
212.254.3697 ext. 21
(LES: F/J/M/Z to Delancey-Essex)
Hours vary, usually Wednesday evenings & Sunday afternoons

ABC No Rio Zine Library is the shit. They have more zines than you can shake a stick at and copies of old stuff too (Factsheet Five, Rollerderby, etc).You have to read them at the library, however. Bummer. They also have zine workshops -- Josh Medsker. ABC No Rio recently spent a whole penny to buy the building they've occupied for nearly 30 years, but there's no way owning real estate can force this crew to settle down. It's volunteer-run, so there may be times when you push open that heavy, disreputable-looking door, only to feel like...hellooooooo?...Is anybody home? Trust me, there's always a lot going on...print shop, dark room, Food Not Bombs, all-ages hardcore matinée, poetry reading, art show, computer center, some righteous benefit or another...and a handful of people sitting around reading zines! The Zine Library is a humble room with milk-crates and filing cabinets assisting the shelves that hold the 12,000 strong collection. The librarians are a volunteer workforce, so hours may get jimmied to accommodate their schedules. It doesn't hurt to call, especially if you've decided to lug your entire zine collection with you in order to donate it in person.

Barnard Library Zine Collection in Lehman Hall
3009 Broadway 2nd floor (enter campus @ 117th St, look for the mod white building that looks like it's up on stilts)
212-854-4615, (Morningside Hts: 1 to 116th St/Columbia University)

The Barnard zine collection specializes in zines made by women (as in gender self-defined), with topics running the gamut from feminism, activism, anarchism, body image, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, etc, etc, etc! It's accessible during the library's regular stacks hours (daily until 11pm, except in summer and January intersession when it's M-F, 9-5). While technically open only to Barnard and Columbia University affiliates, one has only to tap Zine Librarian

Jenna Freedman for permission to enter, either by phone or by emailing That, or just tell the desk attendant you're there to see Jenna, and she'll let you up. If you're a zine-making woman, or a zine collecting woman who's looking to thin out her female-created holdings, you can show the guard the package you're bringing to increase your good friend Jenna's workload. Unlike many academic and public collections, the zines are housed in open stacks, meaning you're free to browse. No need to select off a menu, then have the librarian fetch your choices for you. There are comfy chairs. You can photograph or photocopy any zine that you find in the stacks. There's also an archives collection. All of the zines are cataloged online at


Bookstores that sell zines
All bookstores are special, but to paraphrase George Orwell, some bookstores are more special.

Bluestockings Books
172 Allen St (btwn Stanton & Rivington)
212-777-6028 (LES: F to 2nd Ave)

Originally founded to fill an appalling New York City void--the lack of a dedicated feminist bookstore--Bluestockings has morphed into something a bit more freeform, and anarchy-flavored. They've got live events nearly every night, a helpful, mostly volunteer staff, a hopping location, fair trade coffee, and best of all, zines! Email to get up to the minute info on how to submit yours for consideration, or just drop a complimentary copy off at the counter. -- AH (If New York is a small town, Bluestockings is my general store. When I'm bored, in need of gossip or new ideas or good coffee, I go to Bluestockings and run into everybody I know! Manager Jeffrey Lloyd Lewis is the Oscar the Grouch of Bluestockings. He knows everybody and is glad to see them even if it doesn't show. -- Jessica Max Stein) (Almost every night they have some sort of educational, political, or literary event. When I'm looking for something to do, I check out the events calendar on their website -- Amanda Plumb) (Best. Bookstore. Ever. -- Caitlin McGurk)

St. Mark's Bookstore
31 3 Ave (@ Stuyvesant Pl) 212-260-7853
(East Village: 6 to Astor Pl)

Big, graduated zine gorillas like Bust, Bitch, Giant Robot, Venus, and any title with paid ads and an appearance the general public equates with a "magazine," can be found mid-ships, across from the info desk. On the actual info desk, on shelves so low you'll have to squat in front of them, you'll find a smutty sprinkling of hardcore porno zines like Straight to Hell: the Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts. Less X-rated zines camp out on a wall rack in the way back. That's okay! At least they're selling them! Non-barcode zines are here on consignment, as opposed to purchased outright. If such terms are acceptable to you, drop a copy off and fill out the index card. If you're feeing cocky, and don't mind possibly flushing three copies down the Johnny, drop off three, because that's how many they'll ask for, should they give you a greenlight. Then eventually you'll get a postcard in the mail, telling you when all three copies have sold, with instructions about how to claim your dough and replenish their holdings. - AH (That rack is full to bursting with titles I've never heard of, except for PEOPS, which is always awesome. -- Josh Medsker) (Okay, so I work there! So comeand visit. -- Fly)

Printed Matter
195 10th Ave (btwn 21st St & 22nd St) 212-925-0325
www. (Chelsea: C/E to 23rd St)

A haven for zines that push the boundaries of artsy or artistic into the realm of actual art. They're often a little (or a lot) more expensive than your average bear, but they sure are nifty to look at, what with their ingenious bindings, cunning layouts, and carefully pasted-in color photographs. Printed Matter, in gallery-rich Chelsea, lards their shelves with a goodly helping of these. Go there to browse and shop, but don't plan on dropping off a copy of your own self-published art-zine. Their website has very specific protocols for sending in your submission by mail, which is the only way they will accept it.

Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist of The East Village Inky zine and the author of four self-mocking autobiographies including No Touch the Monkey! and Other Travel Lessons Learned too Late. She is also the author of the upcoming graphic novel Peanut. She lives in NYC with the playwright Greg Kotis and their increasingly well documented young.

Zinester's Guide to NYC

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