DIY Zines

After realising how impractical it is to use Blurb and their Marketplace to print and distribute a magazine I decided to look into how I could do it from home by building and distributing my own zine. I went straight to to get price guides on these variables and Royal Mail for postage.

I used the following items to act as my rough costing guide:

  • A printer: Canon Pixma Pro-100 @ £290.77
  • Ink: Canon CLI-42 @ £64
  • Paper: HP Glossy Paper, A4 x100 sheets, 200gsm @ £12
  • Something to bind it: 5 Star stapler that reaches 320mm and 25 pages deep @ £33.74
  • Postage: local and international: £2.20 for UK with proof of delivery, and £3.50 to the USA but not tracked (to keep costs down), Europe would likely be cheaper.

So from that list the basic setup cost would be £400.51 and out of that there’s be a one off purchase of £324.51 for the stapler and printer with £76 worth of running consumables.

The Printer
Canon Pixma Pro-100 printers use 8 dye cartridges instead of ink or toner; 1 black plus 2 tones of Grey then an assortment of 5 additional colour cartridges. I break down the production costs based on making 20 copies of a 32 page A5 zine plus a cover and whether it’d be full colour or just black and white.

Paper Usage
A 32 page A5 zine plus a cover means I will need 9 sheets of A4 paper, so 9 sheets per issue from 100 sheets of photo paper I get 11 zines.

Ink Usage
Out of 9 printed pages 8 will be duplexed with 1 single sided print acting as the cover making 17 printed sides. Looking at an ink tolerances guide I saw mentioned somewhere else it said the B&W cartridges will get on average 900 prints and basing full colour printing estimates on the smallest cartridge average at roughly 200 prints. It’s likely all wrong but what the hell.

So after those completely unscientific guesstimates I then hung all of the following printing estimates off of them. From one cartridge pack I could roughly get 11 full colour zines using all the cartridges or 52 from just the B&W cartridges.

DIY_Zines-US_Postage DIY_Zines-UK_Postage
Printing and Postage
Running cost for a B&W zine based on all the previous fake science to make 20 copies of a 32 page zine:

  • 180 sheets of paper, that’s 2 packs @ £24
  • making 340 full page prints requiring 1 set of B&W/Grey1/Grey2 cartridges @ £30.60 for just those 3 cartridges
  • Total Cost = £54.60
  • Per Issue Base Cost = £2.73 (plus £2.20/£3.50 postage)
  • Per Issue Cost Plus Postage = UK: £4.93, USA: £6.23 ($9.43/€8.42)


Running costs for producing 20 copies of the zine in full colour:

  • 180 sheets or 2 packs of paper @ £24
  • 340 prints full colour possibly requiring 2 full sets of cartridges @ £64 x 2
  • Total Cost = £88
  • Per Issue Base Cost = £4.40 (plus £2.20/£3.50 postage)
  • Per Issue Cost Plus Postage = UK: £6.60, USA: £7.90($11.95/€10.68)

These are extremely rough costs based on assumptions and guesstimates so the reality would likely be different if not completely different, I’m sure my mathematics is pretty bad here so please correct me. Intangibles would be how the dye sits on paper, or whether the stapler can handle safely punch through the papers weight.

I will likely pursue this over the next year or so by saving up for each element piece by piece but first I have to pay off my Olympus EM10. I think it’d be good for my creative curiosity to chase this but also for GreySkies the photography collective I’m co-founder of, it’d be good for us to start producing a periodical detailing our photographic exploits.

But until next time …

Le Fin


3 thoughts on “DIY Zines

    1. sorry just saw your comments.

      I guess I would have to first decide on a standard size of my zine (24 page at A5 which is 12 A4 prints) and a minimum print of say 20 complete issues. I could then test how many complete sets I can safely get from a single set of cartridges for a 24 page zine.

      From that I guess I could gauge the true cost per run because I reckon it could easily be upward of clean 80 copies before the prints went funny and from that kind of data you could then gauge the run for other size sizes like a 32 page A5, 24 page A4 etc.

      I’d like to make colour zines but in black and white it could be quite affordable but I’ll have to start saving again because blew most of my fun savings on an Intrepid Camera Co. 8×10.


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