FAQ + Contact
- How do I order something?
- Where's my order?
- Do you deal direct to stores or offer wholesale ordering?
- How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
- How do I return/exchange something?
I want to be involved!
- How do I submit manuscripts for publication by Microcosm?
- How can I help?
- How do I volunteer or intern with Microcosm?
I want to know about Microcosm
- Why the focus on zines?
- I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
- How is your money reinvested and what do you spend your profit on?
- Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
- Your website seems not to be working. I think there are bugs!
- Do you work with libraries or educators?
Don't see your question above? Send us a note
How do I order something?
Click on the Add to cart button next to the items you want to order. The online ordering system calculates your total (including shipping costs) for the order. Or you can print and fill out our Microcosm order form. We accept credit card, PayPal, mailed-in check, money order, or well-concealed cash.
Consider signing up for a My Microcosm account! Save your login info so that you can order with it in the future. If you order something that we're out of, we can add credit onto your account—and when you order again, the credit will be automatically taken out!↑
Where's my order?
When contacting us about an order, please wait at least 2 weeks after your order is sent. If it hasn't arrived, please contact us with your name and ref. code (a combination of numbers and letters, like 926db). For international orders, please wait one month after your order is sent—generally all we can tell you is when it was shipped!
You can see the status of your orders on your My Microcosm page if you have an account. You can also check for your order on our online shipping log! Also, please provide an accurate email address in check-out. We email you shipping emails and tracking numbers for tracking your package through the Postal Service.
Most orders are mailed out the day after they are received. However, we may hold an order when we know that new copies of an out-of-stock item will arrive within 2 weeks. While we do our best to keep the site updated, items do go out of stock quickly, so please list alternates!
Orders sometimes get lost in the mail before they get to us or after we ship them. If an order worth less than $20 is lost in the mail, we will replace it on our dime. If a lost order is over $20 and you don't purchase insurance, then we will replace it for half of the total cost plus shipping.↑
Do you deal direct to stores or offer wholesale ordering?
To purchase wholesale from us, sign up for a My Microcosm account. It will keep track of your purchase history and invoices. To find wholesale prices for items, go to any product page (or to your cart) and click on the blue "wholesale" button on the right.
Here's a catalog of titles published by Microcosm. Wholesale orders must be at least $40 with a minimum of two of each item. After two pre-paid orders, we can offer Net-30 terms (in which you pay 30 days after placing the order). Please specify "Net-30" in the order notes. Items are generally not returnable unless they are damaged or arrangements were made ahead of time.
Our published titles are also available for wholesale through Turnaround (UK) and Independent Publisher's Group (Chicago).↑
How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
All of our t-shirts are made in the United States by Royal Apparel, with a few holdouts of the old American Apparel.
They are "fitted", so they fit around the contours of your body and not like a "box" shirt. If you don't want your shirt to be tight, you should buy it a size larger than normal.
Our X-Small size is a Women's Medium shirt size and typically has the "Medium" crossed out and an XS written on the tag.↑
How do I return/exchange something?
We only accept exchanges if we send the wrong item or if a t-shirt does not fit properly. If we send you the wrong item or an item is missing from your package, get in touch and we'll fix our mistake. If you are exchanging a t-shirt because you ordered the wrong size, you ship it back to us, include a $2 handling fee, and the cost of shipping you a new one over to you. Please make sure you order the right size for both of our sakes! Thanks.
Due to the costs involved, we typically don't accept returns. If you would like to make special arrangements, please email us.↑
How do I submit manuscripts for publication by Microcosm?
In order for us to consider publishing your work, you should first peruse our catalog and identify three similar titles that we've published in the last two years. If you can do that, it's probably a good fit. If you can't do that, we probably aren't the best place for you (but good luck!).
Microcosm specializes in DIY (Do-It-Yourself) goods that teach self-empowerment. We enjoy hand-done and unique historical, educational, instructive, food-related, and bicycling-related work. We present information that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere and to learn about things you didn't know you were interested in. We are extremely selective about how we invest our space, effort, time, and money and can only publish about eighteen books per year.
If you have an appropriate manuscript or zine/book idea, tell us, in five seconds, why someone would buy your work and why it's unique from similar titles. Your chances of being accepted are best if you keep it to one sentence. Also include the three similar titles we've published. Use the "send us a note" link (above) and we'll ask for more if it fits where we're headed!↑
How can I help?
BFF Program: Like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) share that gives farmers a guarantee before their crops are harvested, our BFF's help us by paying upfront for their zines and books! Publishing our titles means we pay the printing costs before any books are sold, so every BFF gives us peace of mind. Plus, it's awesome for people to get mailed something new every month of the subscription! Check out the BFF program here.
Sliding Scale Pricing: The standby of DIY venues, museums, and house shows—pay-what-you-can prices allow people to give within their means. We don't know of any other publisher that does this, but Microcosm offers sliding scale prices for titles we produce! We try to put stuff out for cheap, so extra dollars go a long way to keep our pricing sustainable.
Getting the Word Out: Unlike major book publishers, we don't have a large budget for promotions and we rarely pay for ads. In keeping our books cheap, we almost forgo the luxury of having a promotions department entirely! The cheapest way to help us out is telling folks about Microcosm and distributing catalogs.
We don't write grants or push tax-free contributions, so we instead keep things at the grassroots level. We sincerely appreciate any help you all can throw down in any way! To find out more about how our money is spent, check out our 2009, 2010, and 2011 financial reports.↑
How do I volunteer or intern with Microcosm?
Thanks for wanting to help out! There's always plenty of work to go around. If you're interested in volunteering or interning, fill out this form and send it back to us!
Volunteer: Distributing catalogs around town!, hanging up posters, research, doing data entry, assisting with production tasks like editing, proofreading, design, and layout, playing with spreadsheets, cutting canvas, folding t-shirts, moving around boxes, making buttons, or organizing books is a huge help!↑
Why the focus on zines?
To borrow the words of Chris Landry, "Zines are the best expression of the d.i.y. ethics of the punk rock subculture. While bands can be co-opted into the mainstream and the music scene continues to be male-dominated and increasingly a-political, zines have been keeping it true. Zines take the profit and fame motive out of artistic expression and focus on communication, expression and community for their own sake. Zines are the one truly democratic art form. Zine writers are the most important writers in the world."
To borrow the words of Aaron Cometbus, "You can put out a fanzine and you can reach all kinds of fuckin' people for really cheap and you can do a novel and there's no way that you can get to as many people in the same way. Fanzines are, in a way, the perfect form. You can get your fanzine, if you hustle, to bookstores, record stores, maybe even magazine stands. I've had it on sale at toy stores. You can sell it at shows. It's not at all limited to shows and to punk culture. You can sell a book to a record store but it doesn't cross formats in the same way. So in many ways I think that the fanzine is the ultimate and better than a regular magazine too. It really can appeal to all kinds of people."↑
I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
How is your money reinvested and what do you spend your profit on?
All money goes back into the organization and new publishing projects. We choose not to be a 501(c)3 because such an organization requires outside management. Publishing is not the profitable industry that it once was and we feel like the most can be done by putting our ethics ahead of our finances. We pay ourselves starting at $10 an hour and receive a raise as we can afford it.
As a result, Microcosm doesn't have the ethical quandaries that for-profit companies go through to make money to please owners or shareholders. We have no loans, backers, parent company, investors, or shadow partners. All of our money is raised the old fashioned way—by people who support our books!
This project was built on the hard work of everyone who orders from us, volunteered here, or stuck around for gainful employment. We wouldn't be where we are today without you.↑
Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
Part of Microcosm's mission statement is to empower people through the information and resources we provide. One obvious way that people are disenfranchised is by a lack of money. Some people exist on a small budget to focus on activities that they deem vital—like radical activism. Others are caught up in institutional poverty and have no choice in the matter. As a way of catering to these circumstances, we've always offered our titles at the lowest prices possible. And over the last fifteen years we've had many of our own financial hardships. Many people have suggested that since our prices are so low, raising our prices would be an obvious way to solve our problem. So we've come to a compromise—the sliding scale pricing structure. You determine what you can afford to pay for the items that we publish. As a result, we are able to pay royalties to our authors, offer lower prices to those who cannot afford as much as they'd like, and continue to serve our mission statement of making new materials available at the lowest prices possible.↑
Your website seems not to be working. I think there are bugs!
Our website is tested and coded for Mozilla Firefox, which we recommend for web browsing. It's faster, less buggy, safer, and more frequently updated than Internet Explorer. Our site should also work well on Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera.
New bugs do sometimes appear on our site and it's best to report them. Nate, our web genius, will thank you. He hates bugs and loves clean, well-functioning things.↑
Do you work with libraries or educators?
We do! Many libraries and educators order from us already. For libraries, we're happy to set up NET-30 terms for your orders, or contact our sales representative about setting up a standing order. If you're an educator who would like to use our published title as a text, contact us to arrange a desk copy!↑