Factsheet Five was a comprehensive guide to zines and alternative publications. Each issue was packed with reviews of independent and unusual publications. Every issue of Factsheet Five cataloged and reviewed an abundance of zines – complete with price, critical reviews, and ordering information. Additionally, it included informative articles on zine culture, independent publishing, lively columns, interviews with self-publishers, and an extensive news section.
F5 was founded in 1982 by Mike Gunderloy, who began the review zine as a two-page dittoed publication and grew it into the premiere place to get your zine reviewed and read zine reviews. Cari Goldberg Janice became co-editor in the late 1980s. Shortly after Gunderloy and Goldberg Janice published the 1991 book "The World of Zine," which compiled a number of zines featured on the pages of Factsheet 5, Gunderloy quit the magazine. Hudson Luce put out a single issue of Factsheet Five and was rumored to have ruined things on the business end.
In 1991 R. Seth Friedman stepped in, picked up the pieces, and ran F5 in the 1990s, once again bringing it into prominence. At its height with Friedman and Editor Chris Becker, there were approximately eight contributing editors and twenty regular contributors and freelancers. It was actually a profitable magazine, its annual gross was estimated at $130,000. Friedman got Factsheet Five national distribution and attention and also published The Factsheet Five Zine Reader in 1997, a book compiling 73 extracts from zines featured in the magazine (not unlike Gunderloy's book from six years ealier).
The last issue of Factsheet Five was published in the late 1990s by Friedman. There have been rumors for the past five years of a fourth editor stepping in to bring Factsheet 5 back to life. So far all that's materialized is a yearly announcement on alt.zines about its return "this year" and the magazine's website is updated occasionally to say F5's return has been delayed.