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Quimby's Embraces 'Zines
Sam Weller -- 6/5/00

Now this is an alternative bookshop. Quimby's, located at 1854 West North Avenue, has been Chicago's number one source for fanzines, graphic novels and counter culture material for more than nine years. Every shelf in this 1,500-sq.-ft. store explodes with fringe frontier and pop culture propaganda: UFOs, conspiracy theories, fetishes, technology--Quimby's has it all. But it is the grassroots fanzines (or 'zines as most people call them) that make this place so darned special. 'Zines are quirky, weird, sometimes racy, sometimes political, sometimes appalling, yet often enjoyable self-published magazines and books dedicated to all sorts of cool topics. And you won't find much of this material on the shelves of your local bricks-and-mortar superstore.

"We embrace and emphasize the material Barnes and Noble is afraid of," said store owner Eric Kirsammer.

For awhile, this alternative strategy didn't work for Kirsammer, who purchased the shop in 1997. The first year, Kirsammer said, was sluggish. But 1999 sales were up 10%, and 2000 numbers are already up another 15%.

This year, Kirsammer helped kick off BookExpo America's weekend in Chicago with a pre-BEA party at Quimby's on Thursday, June 1.

"The party was an alternative to all the big, corporate BEA parties," Kirsammer told PW. "It was a casual party in a bookstore, which is something you just don't normally do during BookExpo."

Kirsammer added that many of the people attending the party admired the store's brand-new sign, designed by alternative comic superstar Chris Ware, best known for his Acme Comic Novelty Library series.

"Quimby's has always been very supportive of me," said Ware. "There's no other store quite like it.

You can learn more about Quimby's at the store's Web site, www.quimbys.com.
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