If you are reading this column you are likely either a producer of and/or a consumer of small press publications (often called zines). Many people wonder if there are such things as zine fairs where people can browse through numerous pubs, have a drink, listen to some tunes and talk to other zinesters. The answer is a resounding yes! There are actually three major zine-friendly events in Toronto. They are, in alphabetical order: Canzine, Cut n Paste and the Toronto Small Press Book Fair. There is also the ever popular Word on the Street.
Canzine is organized by the producers of broken pencil, a publication that prides itself on being the pulse of the underground publication scene. Canzine is perhaps the most prominent zine fair in the city, and attracts venders from Montreal and even farther abroad. This year’s offering of homemade pubs promises over one hundred and fifty zines, an underground film and video screening, readings, panel discussions and seminars. In the past they have sometimes featured live bands and it’s not unusual to see CDs mixed in with the zines. Zines include literary journals, comics, special interest, politic rags and much more. If you’re really, really into the alternative press scene you may choke on all the mainstream advertising that has snuck into this venue.
This year Canzine will be held on Sunday, October 6, between 1 and 7 pm, at The Big Bop (651 Queen Street, corner of Queen and Bathurst). Admission is free. Anyone interested in reserving a table to peddle their wares can do so for the low sum of $7. To contact the organizers go to www.brokenpencil.com/canzine/index.php or email them at email@example.com
Next is Cut n Paste, a more traditional and quiet zine fair. The last CnP I was at was on the top floor of Sneaky Dee’s, with all of the zine producers sitting snugly around small tables while the occasional potential reader wandered through. CnP is more laid back than Canzine, and though Canzine generally has more venders, at CnP you have a better chance to talk with other zinesters and make new contacts in the alternative and underground publishing scene. This year’s Cut n Paste was held (again) at Sneaky Dee’s on February 23. Admission was free. They unfortunately don’t have a webpage, but people interested in vending were asked to call Michael Comeau at 416-977-7236.
Thirdly is the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, which is actually held twice a year (once in the Spring, and once in the Fall). The 2002 Spring Fair was held on April 27, and the Fall Fair will be on November 9 at it’s customary home: Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, between 11 am and 5 pm. The Book Fairs generally attract a slightly more professional crowd than Canzine or Cut n Paste, though some of the same faces are still there. Readers who come through tend to look for more literary offerings than most zinesters offer, and I had years where I sold lots of copies of my zine, to years where I didn’t cover my table rental. You may want to check this one out before reserving a table to make sure its right for your zine.
Something very cool that usually happens at these Toronto Small Press Book Fairs is the Instant Anthology. Attendees are encouraged to bring submissions to the fair, which are edited and laid out on the premises, then taken to a copy shop and duplicated all on the same day. Before the fair is over there is a new zine available! To many people this sums up what the small press is all about.
For more information on the Toronto Small Press Fairs check out the Toronto Small Press Group webpage at www.interlog.com/~ksimons/tspg.htm The organizers can be reached at TSPG, PO Box 562, Stn P, Toronto M5S 2T1 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the completist there is also Word on the Street, a huge literary fair that is held in four cities across Canada including Toronto. Historically it is held on Queen Street West (between University and Spadina Avenues). Though most of the spotlight is on professional publications they do highlight dozens of independent publishers at Fringe Beat and Magazine Mews tents. They promise “Eclectic and dynamic [titles that] span myriad genres from comic books to Canadiana, from faith to cross-cultural and multilingual fiction, plus much, much more!” Their webpage is still showing information for last year, but if you want to check it out go to http://www.canada.com/national/feat
There you have it, four events from which you can get your fill of independent publications. See you at the fair.