OTW Guest Post: Fanboundbooks and robins-egg-bindery

Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.

Fanboundbooks and robins-egg-bindery are two members of Renegade Publishing, a community of fanbinders, folks who make fanfiction into physical books. They both have been binding for a few years now. Today they are happy to share a bit about their fandom history and the binding community they love being a part of.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

Fanboundbooks: I wrote some X-Files fic in the mid-90s that I kept in a binder, and I wrote a Gundam Wing AU for a Latin class in 2001, but I didn’t really interact in fandom as a social space until 2002 when I started reading Cowboy Bebop fic and then wrote and posted my own. I have followed along various fandom paths, different fic sites, social interaction platforms, and chat groups ever since.

robins-egg-bindery: I first found out about fandom and fanworks circa 2007, and I was reading fic that was being posted in the description section of YouTube videos. From there, I found some of the individual fandom sites, and eventually made my way onto LJ – and then my forever home, AO3.

What is the origin story of your group’s formation?

Renegade Bindery, our community server, was started by ArmoredSuperHeavy, a fanbinderwho wrote and shared a document on the process of how to take a fic from AO3 and turn it into a book, when he found that he was getting lots of questions from folks who were also interested in fanbinding.

The Discord server went live in June of 2020 with about 10 people and, by the time of this writing, we are a community of nearly 2,200 folks! About a year ago, the group organized a volunteer team to work on formalizing and increasing our community outreach efforts and events.

What sorts of things set you apart from more typical online communities?

Renegade is a community of fanbinders who are bound together by belief in fandom as a gift economy.Our group transcends fandom boundaries and physical borders – we have members on every continent (except Antarctica). We host a number of events each year, which include purely digital content, physical books shipped across the world, and even an in-person meet up.

During our most recent online event, we created 566 books in 117 fandoms. At our inaugural meet up earlier this year, we hosted a round robin tiny book bind of “My Immortal,”a Harry Potter fanfic of some notoriety, where we made 21 copies of the book —six people each worked on a different binding step before swapping to create the books. We do yearly gift exchange events for members, as well as a Fanfiction Writer’s Appreciation Day event where we make copies of books to gift to their authors.

Renegade as an organization strives to be not just a community center, but a community resource as well. Sharing knowledge and skills is one of the main tenets of Renegade; there’s always someone around to help fix a problem or answer a question, to cheer each other on when we’re trying something new or trying to salvage a failed experiment.

Where do you see your organization going?

We want to continue our work in gathering binding knowledge and being a repository of free information,so we can continue to expand our efforts in making the craft of fanbinding as accessible as possible to any who are interested.We are working on becoming incorporated as a community organization, and eventually hope to be a 501c3 [a non-profit organization status in the U.S.]

We are also interested in the long-term preservation and storing of physical fanworks, and hope to one day serve as a bound fic sanctuary. We are continually working to expand our community events, with three new events starting this year and more on the horizon.

How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?

Fanboundbooks: I learned of the OTW and AO3 in 2011. I was reading the Temeraire books and when I looked up the author online, I found out she was involved in fandom and that there was this whole other site for fic and a whole organization dedicated to fandom. It was pretty cool to see.

I see the OTW as a cornerstone in protecting and preserving fandom as a culture. There is so much creative history in fandom; it holds the voices of so many passionate people, many of whom didn’t really get a chance to have a voice anywhere else. It’s a culture of discovery;and discovery is dangerous and messy, scary and marvelous. And it threatens the understanding of the established.

And at the same time, fandom and fanworks can mean comfort and home, inspiration and motivation, creation and catharsis. And I think that is worth protecting and holding onto, and I was very glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who seemed to think that. I have been happy to see the OTW’s work continue to grow over the years.

robins-egg-bindery: Through an invite from a friend, I became acquainted with AO3, and since joining Renegade I’ve been introduced to the wider gamut of the OTW and all of its projects; Renegade has been the subject of a few papers published on the Transformative Works Journal that I’ve been surveyed for, and we’ve had lengthy talks about the zine collection at the University of Iowa, and what we should all be writing in our wills about our books.

The OTW stands as a pillar of the fandom community at-large, and protecting fandom — the good, the bad, and even the ugly — is its primary role. Renegade aligns strongly with the anti-censorship, archival nature of the OTW’s mission, and in elevating fanworks to sit as equals on a shelf with their source material.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

Fanboundbooks: It’s hard to pick something specific. The creativity, innovation,passion, and joy that I find in interacting with fandom has inspired me for over 20 years. I started in fandom with fanfiction, and getting to talk with, learn from, and help other writers engaging with their stories kept me coming back to writing, even when it had been years and I thought I wouldn’t be able to write again.

And the more I interacted in fandom, the more I got to see all these different sorts of things that fandom inspires, and be inspired by them, leaving me wanting to create more, and knowing that there is always more that can be created.

I know that fandom and the people I have met though it have had a major impact on my life and I am happy to get to give back to it in the ways that I can.So, when I was seeing non-fandom writers I knew getting to finally hold their finished books in their handsI thought, why shouldn’t the fannish writers that I know and love to read get to have this moment? So, I started making fanbindings with a focus on making them for the writers and then, because of that, I found a whole new fandom community to inspire me.

robins-egg-bindery: The writers, in all of the different fandoms I’ve occupied over the years, are a true source of inspiration. The siren call of being able to give something (quite literally) tangible back to them in the form of a bound copy of their work was what brought me to Renegade in the first place. I have bound works for authors that are a decade old, and to be able to reach back in time and say “hi, hello, your work moved me,” is an indescribable feeling.

We encourage suggestions from fans for future guest posts, so contact us if you have someone in mind! Or you can visit our Pinboard account to catch up on earlier guest posts.

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