Microcosm Publishing

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Microcosm Publishing
Founded 1996
Founder Joe Biel
Country of origin  United States
Headquarters location Portland, Oregon
Publication types books, zines
Official website microcosmpublishing.com

Microcosm Publishing is an independent publisher and distributor based in Portland, Oregon. They publish zine and book works by others in the hopes that it will add credibility to zine writers and their ethics. Their titles attempt to teach self empowerment to disenfranchised people and to nurture their creative side. Current staff includes Lauren Hage, Jeff Hayes, Erik Spellmeyer, Tim Wheeler, Joe Biel, Nate Beaty, Meggyn Pomerleau, and Matt Gauck.


Beginning in 1996 with only Joe Biel doing part-time mail order out of a bedroom in Cleveland, Ohio, Microcosm moved to Portland, OR in 1999. The operation grew significantly over the last ten years, and has been distributed by Independent Publisher's Group as of 2011 when they also shifted focus to primarily becoming a book publisher.[1]

In 2006, the Utne Reader described Microcosm as an "esteemed Portland, Oregon-based publisher and distributor of zines, books, pamphlets, DVDs, and other fun stuff."[2] 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 responsible for a revitalization of books about DIY lifestyles, 1970s aesthetics of instructional books for self-empowerment, a tongue in cheek sense of humor, and images and artwork celebrating bicycles and radical politics. Many of the items offered are not available easily elsewhere on the web or otherwise.[citation needed]

Incorporating the tactics of early punk record labels and a DIY approach, Microcosm uses guerrilla styled tactics for promoting their titles unlike 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.[citation needed] Microcosm continues to operate like a non-profit, dividing all money beyond production expenses into the wages of all staff[3]

and doubles the industry standard in their number of authors who are women.[4]

In September 2008, Microcosm opened a new retail store in the Buckman neighborhood of southeast Portland. There was a noticeable shift in the type of reading material offered, since most stock is "hurts" and "remainders" sold at half retail price or less.[5] In January 2014 the store grew for a fourth time, moving to a new location at 2752 N Williams Ave in Portland, a few blocks from its former longtime location in Liberty Hall.

Starting in 2006, before the majority of warehousing was handled by Independent Publisher's Group, Microcosm set out on an ongoing quest to find affordable warehousing for the volume of publishing it was doing inside inner-Portland. Unable to do so, it opened a mailorder and warehouse location in Bloomington, IN in March 2007. But due to complications of managing across state lines, this location was later closed in July 2011 and a new distro/mailorder location replaced it in Lansing, Kansas.[6] One month later, Lansing staffer Jessie Duquette (aka "Jessie Duke"), an employee since 2006, became co-owner of Microcosm.[7] In August 2012, the organization split into two separate businesses: one that focused primarily on zine distribution, run by Jessie Duke in rural Kansas and Microcosm Publishing, which focused on the book publishing operation, run by Joe Biel in Oregon.[8]

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.

Books, videos, and zines[edit]

Published Titles include:



External links[edit]