Zine Review: Shelf Life

ZINES_Shelf-LifeZine, issue 2, Tim Nicholas and Annie Soga, studiumpunctumshop.com, $5

“It takes one to know one,” they say, and I know that Tim and Annie are properly and thoroughly obsessed with book buying. It was easy to recognize myself in these pages, where the authors chronicle their travels across the countryside, checking out community booksales and used bookstores. I am of the same blood, and was excited to read about others’ experience of a shared neurosis.

The zine takes the form of reviews or report-backs from booksales and book- stores, with some added context, as well as the odd average book review. The authors make day trips to the country spe- cifically to check out ridiculous sounding (100,000s of books!) sales held in warehouses and abandoned grocery stores. They know what they’re looking for, but are also addicted enough to book buying that they can barely leave a thrift store without at least one tome they don’t really need.

Somehow, there felt like something was missing here, and I suspect it had to do with a lack of context for how they got to where they are in their obsession, and how it manifests in contexts other than the purchase of books. It’s true that there is no lack of personality in here, and the writing style is colloquial and relaxed. However, there seemed to me a certain flatness to reviewing book sales that most readers will never go to. Of course they are recognizable in their more or less universal characteristics, but maybe need something more to fill them out. Or else maybe I’m just jealous they go to so many kickass book sales, is that unfair?

Every book review comes with a hand-drawn version of the cover, which is a nice touch. They’ve really put a lot of work into transferring their enthusiasm onto the pages here, further testimony to their full-bodied reverence to the book- form. I recognize that, and would encourage those who feel the same to check this zine out. (Stéphane Doucet)