A Fond Farewell to Punk Planet

Every other month, when Punk Planet arrives at our
office, it is quickly snatched from the shelves and sequestered by
one lucky editor or intern to pore over its pages. Library-shelf
sightings of the coveted magazine are so rare, in fact, that our
librarian Danielle Maestretti long ago gave up trying to corral
copies and simply got a home subscription.

So it is with great sadness and fond appreciation that we report
that the final issue of Punk Planet is in the mail. Co-editor and
publisher Daniel Sinker and associate publisher and co-editor Anne
Elizabeth Moore sent word to fans Monday through email and via the
magazine’s website. The bimonthly covered
all corners of the independent and alternative spectrum, from
standards like music, books, comics, and zines, to feature
articles ranging from the revival of student activism to the
perils of No Child Left Behind legislation to the secrets of
competitive Scrabble. It provided an invaluable resource in the
form of advertising space, which was offered exclusively (and
affordably) to indie retailers. And as long as your album, book,
or comic was independent, Punk Planet always made time
and space for a few words.

The deck was stacked against Punk Planet, though, and
the hard knocks of independent publishing finally became too much
to bear. In their farewell letter, Sinker and Moore sullenly note
that going against the cultural grain brings very little in
profits. The ultimate financial blow landed in January, when
Punk Planet‘s distributor, the Independent Press
Association (IPA), announced it was
folding due to bankruptcy. Although Punk
outlasted other IPA members like
Clamor, the structural and financial
damage proved fatal.

With few options left, the editors asked readers to buy T-shirts
and back issues to raise money. Readers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and
Madison, Wisconsin, went a step further and hosted benefit
concerts. The money they raised kept Punk Planet afloat
for a short while, but in the end, as the staff came to realize the
extent of their distribution problems (roughly
70 percent of the magazine’s budget comes from
newsstand sales), Punk Planet had little choice but to
call it quits. Although the outfit will continue publishing books
and running a website, the chance of the magazine making a full
comeback is remote. ‘The only realistic way’ for that to happen,
Sinker tells Utne.com, ‘is to change the industry.’

The departure of Punk Planet leaves a gaping hole in
the landscape of independent magazines. And it will be sincerely
missed in our office, where one or two articles from each issue
inevitably rile us up or turn us on to something new. That’s
probably why Punk Planet has racked up nominations for the
Utne Independent Press Awards every year since 2000. Along with its
14 total nominations over the past seven years, it took home honors
for ‘General Excellence (Zines)’ in 2000 and ‘Cultural/Social
Coverage’ in 2002.

Though we mourn the loss of this bastion of the independent
press, we’re buoyed by Sinker and Moore’s closing remarks,
heralding Punk Planet‘s last issue. ‘Read it, enjoy it,’
they write, ‘and find in it enough inspiration to last until we
come back in some other form, at some other time, renewed and ready
to make another outstanding mark on the world.’

Go there >>
Punk Planet Magazine — R.I.P.P

Go there, too >>
To Do: Save Punk Planet

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