In 1998 I was selling zines and records a few nights per week at our local DIY punk club, Speak in Tongues. A regular customer named Steve approached. “Did you hear about the Bowling Green Zine Conference happening in June?” he asked me. I hadn’t. To be honest it sounded a bit intimidating.

I had previously attended events like the More Than Music Festival, which were, admittedly, not much more than music, other than aesthetically. As an autistic young person, loud environments where politics were implied and I didn’t need to rely on my inept social skills were strongly preferred…


Let me tell you about my hero.

Kittie Knox is the reason that bicycling is more than just another leisure sport for the wealthy. As a Black teenager, she created the world that she wanted to see from the seat of her bike. Today, you can see the results of Kittie’s success in the hundreds of cities around the globe where a bicycle is used to have a happier commute, as a social galvanizer among disparate individuals, as a political leveraging tool, or for tall bike jousting.

Much has been written of the bicycle as the great liberator of wealthy…


For hundreds of years, boycotts have changed the world. Perhaps the most successful boycott of all time was when the British imperialized India in 1707 and Indians were forced to purchase British goods instead of their own. The British used to trade tea for opium with China but instead, they just took opium from India, building railroads throughout the country to move raw materials for profitable export. Indian riches were soon depleted and villages began starving. Mahatma Gandhi began encouraging protestors to boycott British goods and to buy Indian products instead. Gandhi mastered passive resistance and was jailed four times…


In January of 2011, Microcosm Publishing offered a service where customers could exchange the Kindle that they had received for the holidays for an equitable value of our books. The campaign was a huge success and we receive calls six years later asking if we are still offering the exchange. But the most confusing aspect of the news cycle that followed was the “investigating journalism” that tracked “the real impact of e-readers vs paperbacks.” I devoured dozens of articles on this subject and each one looked solely at the carbon impact of each format, the expected life cycle of a…


This is an excerpt of Joe Biel’s 8th book, A People’s Guide to Publishing, in stores in December 2018 with preorders shipping in August!

Publisher Peter Workman (1939–2013), according to popular anecdote, believed that successful publishing relied upon a sturdy “three-legged stool:”

1. The book must have the right price, format, and trim size for its shelf and subject.

a. The content must challenge existing wisdom.

b. It should be the best possible book in its category and become a “category killer.”

c. It should be an attractive value with emotional appeal.

2. The author and publisher must have a…


This is an excerpt of Joe Biel’s 8th book, A People’s Guide to Publishing, in stores in December 2018 with preorders shipping in August!

In 1970, there were about 3,000 indie publishers. By 2006, there were 82,000. Today there are hundreds of thousands of specialized independents, and probably over a million if you include bedroom operations. Even with so many presses, that’s still an average annual sales of $120,000 per publishing house. In 2016, 66% of book sales were from independent publishers, so we are now selling more books than the majors! …


For over 700 years the 35,000-person town of Geel, Belgium has had a saying “Half of Geel is crazy, and the rest is half crazy.” Based on the legend of Dymphna, the Catholic patron saint of the mentally ill…who was also the decapitated victim of her mentally ill father, the town created a social responsibility to care for the mental health of all of its citizens.

There’s also a long-standing tradition In Geel of taking in mentally ill strangers to live in your home. The methodology of this care is that nobody is trying to “change” or “fix” people, even…


In October it entered the public consciousness that Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax Films and co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, had spent decades exploiting a power imbalance to pressure sexual favors out of women and then paying settlements to silence criticisms. As the raging public became increasingly furious at his exploitation of his position to grant and receive favors, his board fired him from his production company, his wife left him, he was suspended from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is under investigation…


I was married from 2002–2004. It was years before I was diagnosed with autism in 2009 and learned how to understand or respond appropriately t​o​ emotions and nonverbal communication. I came to understand that intentions were not what mattered as much as impact. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a story on Invisibilia about an autistic doctor who had seven medical assistants quit in one year due to, as she puts it, “over and over again the world didn’t respond the way she expected.” …


Years before I was diagnosed with autism in 2009, I was married from 2002–2004. We had an ugly breakup but she refused to get divorced until 2007. I came to see the patterns of my behavior and understand that intentions were not what mattered as much as impact, chiefly that I did not recognize nuance or nonverbally expressed boundaries and bulldozed through them as a result. If you’re unfamiliar here’s a story on Invisibilia about an autistic doctor who had seven medical assistants quit in one year due to, as she puts it, “over and over again the world didn’t…

Joe Biel

self-made autistic publisher and filmmaker formed by punk rock, joebiel.net

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