The best place to start might be the Wikipedia entry. Apas started in the late 19th century as a way for printers to more cost-effectively distribute their work. Basically, think of them as co-ops. People send in their items to a central mailer who bundles them up and then redistributes them to all of the members. Some apas take the form of a literal bundle -- an envelope full of apazines. And some are more like assembling zines or compilation zines in that the final item is a zine combining all of the pages contributed by members (you send in enough pages to satisfy the member count).
Currently, I participate in a handful of apas, some fannish, some not. They include NAPA, AAPA, The Connection, FAPA, ERBAPA, Alarums & Excursions, Slanapa, and N'APA. I also compile a directory of active apas; edit .zap!!, the apa of alt.zines; and am otherwise exploring the form.
There's even an English-language apa in Holland called Dapper. I can send you more information about that if you're interested.
Thanks for your explanations, Heath Row. Also wikipedia added to my understanding.
As far as I understand a theme is not necessary/available/demanded for the contributions (next to may be an overall theme like Science Fiction)?
I never contributed to these, but I remember I saw some in the bookstore, in large envelopes.
However, I did contribute to an "assembly art"-project, where artworks of 5 artists were collected in a box and sold together.
True. Contributors pretty do what they like with their apazines for the overall apa. Some have stricter participation guidelines than others. Most include some kind of mailing comments to remark on materials contributed by other members so there's an internal dialogue issue to issue. Definitely an example of correspondence culture!
I've never participated in a more art-oriented assembling zine, and would be interested in seeing one. Will keep my eyes open!
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