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Entry updated 18 September 2023. Tagged: Fan, Theme.

An acronym taken from the National Amateur Press Association, an organization founded in 1869 to coordinate the distribution of its members' writings. An APA or apa mailing is a collection of individually produced contributions of which multiple copies – one for each apa member – have been sent to a central editor, usually known as the Official Editor or OE, who then collates them and distributes the assembled result to all contributors. Typically this is a loose pile of pamphlets, but sometimes the individual Fanzines, known as apazines, are stapled or otherwise bound into a single volume.

Apas – the term was most often found used in the plural, and was pronounced as a word – were common in the late nineteenth century, and became of genre significance with such productions as The Recluse, published in the 1920s by W Paul Cook (1881-1948), which distributed the work of H P Lovecraft and his circle. The figures involved in apas like The Recluse soon turned to more formal publishing (see Small Presses and Limited Editions), but younger fans came into the scene. In 1937, Donald A Wollheim founded the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, which produced in FAPA the first sf apa proper. British fans imitated the format in 1954 with OMPA, the Offtrails Magazine Publishers Association. Many others followed, and apas remained for many decades an important device within Fandom for maintaining affinities and circulating fannish gossip and/or fiction by young writers.

Increasingly since the 1990s, online networking has tended to supplant the apa as a forum; but several remain active. FAPA itself still continues, though OMPA was moribund by the late 1970s and dead by 1981. Another notably long-running US apa is SAPS, the Spectator Amateur Press Society, founded in 1947. Further continuing apas include ANZAPA (Australian and New Zealand Amateur Press/Publishing Association), founded in 1968 as APA-A and given its long-term name in 1969, the central editor's title being OBE for Official Bloody Editor; and WOOF (Worldcon Order Of Faneditors), founded in 1976, which rather than having a fixed membership roster is compiled annually at each Worldcon from contributions provided by any fan who cares to bring or send them. For a number of years from the early 1970s to circa 1983, the variously edited fanzine South of the Moon attempted to catalogue and give details of all current apas. [JC/DRL]


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