Arts & Culture

SPACEBAR on Differences Between Zines and Books

To be a zine consultant and producer

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The zine culture is growing not just locally, but regionally as well. The first time SPACEBAR got involved with the scene in Thailand, they made 100 copies of their own zine. Today, they have their own space where anyone is free to check out zines and make their own anytime they like, and not just access zines once or twice a year during an arts festival.

Although the internet has definitely influenced the demand for physical books and zines, these tangible forms of text and art will still have a place in today’s world. “The new generation is still interested in zines and books. They are passionate and it is a matter of adapting the publishing process,” SPACEBAR noted. They believe that if the content is adjusted and produced to become more compelling, youths will want to collect the zines.

Not everything has to be about fast-paced living. To have a physical zine is to be able to read and reread it, to play a part in its beauty and power, and the aesthetics shared from creator to reader.

Visiting Singapore later this June as part of the Singapore Art Book Fair, SPACEBAR shared with us more about the zine culture in Thailand and how they stay relevant in the digital age.

Share with us about the zine culture in Thailand.

Zines in Thailand are known as “handmade books” and they have been around for some time. A “Make a Zine” day was organised by A Day magazine, which is a monthly publication about positive changes and creativity, and it has been around for a long time. We, Wimonporn Ratchataganok and Wisaruth Wisidh, started SPACEBAR ZINE during the event.

The Bangkok Art Book Fair, organised by Studio 150 in partnership with BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY for the first time in 2017, made us and ZINE known to a wider group of people.

Presently, there are many zine stores and independent bookstore stores in Thailand that either produce their own zines or import zines.

There are many groups that are starting to look to the international market such as the Art Book Fair in countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. More people now have a greater understanding of how zines are different from other books, in terms of the production process and the way of thinking or communication.

Is there a particular zine that has really made an impression on you?

We like illustrated zines and photo zines. We feel that these are easy to access as they cross the barrier of language. We like illustrations that are simple and minimal or those painted with watercolours or pencils. As for photos, we like street style, mostly. We like to make zines about movies and music.

SPACEBAR is a space to make and sell zines. In the next five years, what do you envision for this brand?

With the main idea of the shop  ‘Everyone has their own zine’, we aim to be a studio in people’s perception that can be relied on as a zine consultant and producer. We also want more people to know about zines.

In Thailand, there are people who are good content creators and storytellers. They want to have their own book but feel that it is difficult and impossible. We want to become a studio that meets the desire of this group. We want our studio to be the first place that this group of people think about. We want to have as many locations as possible for ZINE— in Thailand and abroad. We also want to be self-sufficient and have the means to attend overseas art book fairs annually.

In an era of digitisation, do you think physical zines and books will still have a place in our future? Why?

Of course they will still have a place, seeing that people from our generation are still interested in zines and books. We are still passionate about getting caught up in reading books. But we now have options like e-books that allow us to save money or space. Book and zine publishers have to adapt to answer this question:

‘When everything is available on the internet, why do they still have to buy our publications?’

Do you have any advice for aspiring zine makers, or can you suggest names of zine makers they can look up to understand this scene better?

Publishers or zine makers must adapt not because the new generation will no longer buy — they will continue to buy, just less. This means we have to adjust the content and production patterns to attract their attention so that they will buy more. For example, we could make zines and books more ‘compelling’ publications, not fast-paced publications. But the publications must be such that they want to read and reread them.

They must be beautiful and powerful enough that people want to collect them and are proud to have them on their bookshelf at home and keep them for a long time.

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