One of the Hotel Canzine rooms at the still-under-renovations Gladstone Hotel

The Pen is Mightier than the Publisher

Hogtown has long been known as a literary city; that this weekend should see two literary festivals hit the city at the same time stands as testament to that. But while the International Festival of Authors which wrapped up yesterday celebrated the professional, international, and famous, today's Hotel Canzine was all about the amateur, local, and self-published. And it was a treat.

Tightly packed into two floors of the historic Gladstone Hotel, Canzine 2005 (which may need to find more spacious environs for its 2006 edition) was a lesson in diversity. Virtually every aspect of the zine industry was represented, from neophyte ziners using their office photocopiers to older hands producing glossy periodicals that wouldn't look out of place at your typical newsstand. Some exhibitors clearly had political agendas that they wanted to push, and their zines were just vehicles for that. Others were focusing on a lifestyle - transit ridership as an example - and looked to their publications as a way of sharing their interest with the wider public. Most people though, from what I could tell, were doing what they did because they enjoyed it, and wanted their reader to join in on the fun.

A Canzine 2005 participant sells her zine to an interested customer

Zines, for the uninitiated, are very much the bricks and mortar cousin of the blog (although I'm sure they'd be quick to point out that they were there first), generally small and often intensely personal, but with the power to reach out and pull people in. If we here in the blogosphere are the new wave of citizen journalists, they in the zine industry are the citizen authors of new media.

Six hours can be a long time for an exhibitor to stay sitting, especially when the room is unseasonably hot. It didn't seem a problem for anybody though, as most of the zinesters were doubling as customers as well, being fans of the medium. As Jon Pressick, publisher of the fabulous quarterly 'TRADE: Queer Things' pointed out, it didn't matter how good sales were - he was going to be spending more than he made.

Hotel Canzine was fun, if more than a bit overcrowded. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some new reading to do.

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