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From Amateur Press Association, an apa (in plural, sometimes apae) is a kind of social media conducted via snail mail, made up of dead-tree artifacts called apazines — or, in less convoluted terms, a means for distributing fanzines to a specific group of people.

FAPA, the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, is the oldest fannish apa, and the first use of the initialism in fanhistory apparently occurred in the first issue of its official organ, the Fantasy Amateur, in 1938. Robert Silverberg may have been the first to use apazine (in Spaceship 20, January 1953).

Apa Mechanics[edit]

Typically, each member of an apa produces a fanzine and sends an appropriate number of copies to an Official Editor who collates and (usually) staples one copy of each zine together, adding covers, an Official Organ and a ToC, and sends out the collection of zines, called a mailing, to each member.

Apazine describes only a fanzine’s purpose and means of distribution. An apazine can be any length and any type. In bundle-type apae such as FAPA, they were often genzines. Faneds may and often do distribute the same zines both within and outside the apa. Today, apazines tend to be short personalzines and generally include (and sometimes consist mostly or entirely of) mailing comments, responses to material published in the preceding mailings or distributions.

The Official Editor (OE) (occasionally, "Official Collator") is usually elected, either for a specific term or as needed when the previous one retires.

Some apas, notably FAPA, don't bind the individual zines together but simply bundle the collection of separate apazines into envelopes, whereas in others, such as The Cult, members mail their material to the OE, who edits and publishes them as a single fanzine rather than a collection of zines.

To remain a member, one generally must meet minimum activity (minac) requirements, usually defined as a certain number of pages of original material within a given timeframe, plus pay dues to defray the costs of postage and the printing of the Official Organ (OO) which accompanies them. Distribution intervals may be weekly, every two weeks, every three weeks, monthly, every other month, quarterly and yearly.

To keep the amount of copies needed within bounds, most apae have a maximum number of members allowed. (At one time, FAPA’s was 50, that being the outside number of legible copies one could expect to make with a hectograph.) If the membership roster is full, other fans who want to join will be put on a waitlist. If it isn’t, the OE may try to recruit new members by sending out spec copies. Fans who belong to multiple apas are known as apahacks.

It is common to frank other fanzines, not specifically created for the apa, through mailings; this may or may not qualify as minac depending on the apa’s rules.

Apa Types[edit]

Some apas are designed for discussion on specific topics (e.g., APA-69, sex; REHUPA, Robert E. Howard; CAPRA, movies, etc.); others are geographically oriented, such as Milwapa in Milwaukee, APA-L in Los Angeles, and ANZAPA, in Australia and New Zealand, but most are general interest.

Members of city- and club-based apas, sometimes called "local apas," often meet to hold a joint collation, a social event at which the collections of zines — in that instance called a distribution — are put together and handed out. Many local apae also have distant members who participate by mail.

As noted under ajay, the apa began in mundania, but there are differences between mundane and fannish apas. In the mundane APAs like NAPA and UAPA, to be a member, one simply pays dues; publishing activity is encouraged but not required and there is no requirement to send all "papers" (as they call their apazines) to the entire membership.

Apa Speak[edit]

Apahacks have a specialized fanspeak of their own. Some apae have terms specific to the apa, as well.

Historically Important Apae[edit]

There were hundreds of fan apas. Here are a few of the most significant.

More Reading:

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
Amateur Press Association. A group of people who publish fanzines and, instead of mailing them individually, send them to an Official Editor, who makes up a bundle periodically (altho these mailings have sometimes not been temporally regular) and distributes one to each member. Such apazines are contributed to the bundle by their publishers without charge, being considered exchanges for the other members' fanzines. The procedure saves time, work, and postage for the publishers; and since the mailing bundles are identical and all members may be assumed to know their contents, comments on them lead to lively discussions. For fan APAs see under FAPA, OMPA, and SAPS, all still active, and 7APA, Vanguard, and WAPA, now defunct. (Whether the Cult is an APA is hard to decide, but go ahead and look it up anyway.)

Many mundane APAs are in existence -- in fact, fandom got the idea from them. These mapas usually print their publications with hand-operated equipment, and are for the most part distinctly more interested in getting a pleasant format and appearance than in producing interesting writing. Several fans have vanished into or emerged from the mapas, and some stfnists, notably HP Lovecraft, have been active Ajays at the same time. The memberships of mundane associations are considerably larger and less active than those of fan APAs, and it does not seem to be required that publishers send in sufficient copies to cover the entire membership.

From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944
amateur press association — A group like the FAPA (which got its idea from them) existing for the purpose of facilitating exchange of publications between its members thru a periodic mailing (the mailings have not been temporarily regular in some cases). Of the mundane amateur press associations, the National APA dates from the 1870's; the American was established fairly recently, mainly by younger people. There are also the United APA, a British organization, some regional groups, locals, and some interassociation committees. These ajays usually print their publications with hand-operated equipment, and are for the most part distinctly more interested in getting a pleasant format and appearance than in writing anything interesting. Several former fans have disappeared into the mundane APA's, and several other well-known scientifictionists, notably H. P. Lovecraft, have been active ajays at the same time. The memberships of these associations are considerably larger and less active than the FAPA's, and it does not seem to be required that publishers send in sufficient copies to cover the entire membership.