The Free Press Death Ship

 zine, #1, free, Violet Jones, PO Box 55336, Hayward, CA 94545 USA

I don’t know if it is the archaic wood-cutesque drawings or the broadsheet circa 1910 style in general, but this thing feels a bit fusty to me. Reviews are workmanlike and unexpressive. Articles tend toward the how-to, with advice on zine correspondence with prisoners, and an overview of do-it-yourself printing techniques. Not much new here. Jones starts off with what is meant to be a kind of manifesto about how the press isn’t free anymore. “It is our considered opinion,” she writes, “that the days of true freedom of expression in America are nearing their end.” That may be true, but why so pretentious? Who is “our?” At any rate, her main support for this assertion seems to be that when you publish a book you need to have an ISBN or nobody will sell it or stock it in a library. Since ISBN numbers (the barcode on a book) cost money, “those who will not pay…are officially excluded,¬†suppressed.” Again, this may be true, but there are certainly much bigger and more pervasive problems facing the ability to publish in relative freedom. Why not give us some really powerful examples of, say, monopolistic control, ideas being suppressed, and so on? The ISBN is a symptom, not the problem. This could be, and hopefully will be, a promising mouthpiece for the indie press. (Hal Niedzviecki)

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