Microcosm Publishing is an independent publisher and distributor based out of Portland, OR and Bloomington, IN. They distribute zines, books, pamphlets, stickers, buttons, patches, t-shirts, films, and more. The focus is on publishing zines and books in the hopes that it will add credibility to zine writers and their ethics. Titles attempt to teach self-empowerment to disenfranchised people and to nurture their creative side. It began in 1996 with one person doing part-time mailorder out of a bedroom.
Beginning in 1996 with only Joe Biel doing part time mail order out of a bedroom in Cleveland, Ohio and hiring Alex Wrekk in 2003, the operation has grown significantly over the years and as of March of 2007, has moved its mailorder operation to Bloomington, Indiana. There is a particular focus towards images and artwork celebrating bicycles and radical politics. Many of the items offered are not available easily elsewhere on the web or otherwise.
Microcosm is heralded in the zine community as an entity that, for better or worse, has brought zines into a larger consciousness in the new millennium, after former mainstream interest has largely subsided. They are also responsible for many of the recent zine/book hybrid aesthetics and zines that have fancier covers or design aesthetics such as multiple color screenprints, letterpress, or offset printing.
Incorporating the tactics of early punk record labels and a very DIY approach, Microcosm uses tactics that are more guerilla styled for promoting their titles than most publishers of equal size. They rarely purchase advertising, and rely more heavily on the people who appreciate their craft independently passing out their catalogs in their respective towns.
Microcosm is sometimes equated as the "Wal Mart of Zines" due to the vast selection and customer service that it offers. Due to Wal Mart's poor human rights record and complete inability to build a decent public image for themselves - Microcosm would probably be more accurately called "The Target of Zines", although former employees have no problem with the Wal Mart association, due to a lack of understanding the humor of being compared to a corporation like Target, instead.
Microcosm offered custom buttons as a service from 1998-2006. Custom stickers were also offered from 2001-2006. Custom patches and t-shirt printing was also offered briefly in 2002-2003.
Microcosm Publishing was formerly a record label, and released records by Flotation Walls, Bedford, Organic, Cripple Kid, The Unknown, The Roswells, Little Dipper, Rock, Star.
- Chainbreaker Bike Book
- I Hate This Part of Texas / Keep Loving, Keep Fighting
- Mostly True: The Story of Bozo Texino
- $100 & A T-Shirt
- Making Stuff & Doing Things
- On Subbing
- Stolen Sharpie Revolution
- Flow Chronicles
- CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting #1, 2, 3, 4
- Brainscan #19 and 20
- Things are Meaning Less
- Xtra Tuf #5
- Coffeeshop Crushes
- Homeland Insecurity
- Invincible Summer: An Anthology #1
- My Brain Hurts #1-5 Collection
- Distance Makes The Heart Grow Sick
- Constant Rider Omnibus (Second Edition)
- DIY Screenprinting
- Bipedal, By Pedal
- Snakepit 2: My Life in a Jugular Vein
- Secret Files of Cap'n Sissy #5
- I Hate This Part of Texas #5
- Dreamwhip #14
- Doris: Anthology 1991-2001
- Doris #23
- Cantankerous Titles & Obscure Ephemera, Vol 1 DVD
- Green Zine #14
- Best of Intentions
- You Can Work Any 100 Hours Per Week You Want (In Your Underwear!!)
- Please Don't Feed the Bears
- Sounds of Your Name
- Hot Damn & Hell Yeah / Dirty South
- Zinester's Guide to Portland