The following description is taken from Jenna Freedman’s article “Zines are not blogs: a not unbiased analysis,” posted on the Barnard College Zine Library’s website:

Definitions of the word “zine” vary tremendously, but they do tend to have these common characteristics:

  1. Self-published and the publisher doesn’t answer to anyone
  2. Small, self-distributed print run
  3. Motivated by desire to express oneself rather than to make money
  4. Outside the mainstream
  5. Low budget

A brief history of zines in the United States, compiled by Eunice Draw, former Zine Library Intern:

For a longer discussion of what makes a zine a zine, see Brooklyn College Library’s page on the topic.