Where to buy zines in the 1980s East Village

Remember the zine era? Those stapled, Xeroxed, cranked-out-in-someone’s-basement homemade magazines lined the shelves of independent bookstores and music shops through the 1990s.

SeehearphotofromyelpOne of the best places to browse and discover a new zine was at See Hear, inside a gritty basement storefront on East Seventh Street between First and Second Avenues.

It’s hard to imagine now, in our message- and media-saturated world, but See Hear contained a treasure of independent voices that, in an era before blogs, tweets, and Instagram, would otherwise never be heard.

Testimonials to the store’s incredible variety and the thrill of discovering something new there are all over the web. Just a few months ago, Alex at Flaming Pablum paid homage.


See Hear is firmly etched in the 1990s for me. Yet they opened years earlier. This ad comes from the February 1986 issue of the East Village Eye.

Zines still exist, but See Hear does not. They shut their doors in the early 2000s [Top photo from Yelp].

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6 Responses to “Where to buy zines in the 1980s East Village”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    When I visited the Brooklyn Book festival, there were a few tables that sold zines. More like Poetry and short stories. Some were authors giving away their work for free too. That was cool.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Book festival but zines can still be found. I head over to Printed Matter on Tenth Avenue to browse.

  3. nygrump Says:

    In the US, See Here was distinctive as being a store for obscure music magazines and books. You never knew what would show up. The NAMBLA magazines were there for 1st Amendment purposes, but they kind of weirded me out. People don’t make zines anymore anyway, they post mirror images on facebook and wait for other mirror images to say, hey look, a mirror image!

  4. Chris Flash Says:

    SEE HEAR was a good place to find interesting things and they helped indie publishers get their stuff on the shelves, but they NEVER paid anyone!! He must have sold HUNDREDS of SHADOWs there and he never paid us — he always had an excuse. Ultimately, their failure/refusal to pay rent (and burning too many people) resulted in their losing their space….

  5. futurepilgrim Says:

    I used to love See/Hear – they had stuff nobody else had and you could always find something interesting. I recall buying “Answer Me!” there, my signed copy of “Rat Catching” by Crispin Glover (which I still own) and who knows what else. It had the air of potential despite being a dank basement. Good stuff.

  6. Ugly American Zine Says:

    We had most of the 13 issues of our zine, Ugly American, on the shelves at See Hear at one time or another when it was out from 1988-1999. I don’t remember if we had any problems getting paid. If you missed us then, we’re (slowly) putting our archives up online now, check it out at :

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