I've decided to jump straight into the prequel, because it will be applicable to the most people. If you're reading this and are not actively contributing scans, then this guide applies to you.
No Scanner, No Problem - Anyone Can Help
Magazine scanning isn't for everyone. Not everyone owns magazines that are in need of being scanned, for one. An even more common problem is lack of access to a scanner. And even if a decent scanner and a stack of magazines is at hand, very few have the brass cojones needed to debind the mags so that they can be properly scanned.
But that doesn't mean they can't help.
Far from it, there are a number of ways to assist in the preservation of magazines without actually scanning any magazines.
- Debinding and scanning are only the first steps towards preserving a magazine. The most time consuming part of the process is editing. This is usually done in Photoshop, but there are a number of free alternatives such as Gimp which are just as capable of making scans ready for release.
- "But wait," you say - "I don't have a scanner - just what exactly am I supposed to be editing?" As it turns out, Retromags has a repository of raw scans (over 20 issues' worth at the time of this writing) just waiting for someone to volunteer to edit them. Anyone serious about doing so has simply to contact one of the staff and we can hook you up with a trial issue for you to edit (following Retromags' editing guidelines, of course). Even moreso than scanners, we are in desperate need of people willing to dedicate some of their time towards editing. If your edit is approved for release, you'll be promoted to Team Member and be recipient to all of the acclaim and riches which that entails. (*It entails no acclaim or riches.) I'd personally be happy to help you on your way, so what are you waiting for?
This is a bit less vital, but is still a good way to help out, especially if you don't have the time to dedicate to editing. Donated mags usually take priority when a scanner is deciding what to scan next, so donating something you want to see preserved is a good way to ensure that it happens sooner rather than later. However, I do have some advice and words of caution for anyone looking to donate:
- There are (currently) very few active scanners to whom magazines can be donated, and all of them already have a queue of donated mags waiting to be scanned. So before you send someone that giant box full of 50 mags, make sure you are comfortable with the fact that it may be quite some time before they get scanned. Sending a small number of mags or even just a single "must-have" issue might actually increase the likelihood of seeing it scanned sooner. Of course, if you're cleaning out your closets and need to get rid of the mags regardless, then by all means, donate them to one of our scanners rather than tossing them out or contributing to the problem that is eBay. It may take a while, but they'll be scanned eventually.
- Don't expect to get the mags back. Our scanners debind all magazines in order to get the best possible scans, so all that would be left is a pile of loose pages. And even if you were OK with that and wanted those loose pages back, it's unlikely (though not necessarily out of the question) that the scanner is going to want to be bothered with arranging a return shipment in addition to doing all the work of scanning and editing the issues.
- Another thing to consider when donating is LOCATION. Retromags currently has scanners living in the USA, Canada, and Japan. Magazines are quite heavy, and international shipping is very expensive. Finding the scanner nearest you should definitely be a priority.
- Alternatively, it is always possible to donate magazines by buying them via auction or online store and having them shipped directly to a scanner. This isn't really something we've ever done before, so far as I know, but could actually be the most cost effective way of donating for some. Using myself as an example: I live in Japan, so shipping anything to me would be cost-prohibitive for most of our members. However, Japanese game magazines can be bought quite cheaply on Japanese auction sites, and there are several online stores in Japan which carry vast amounts of magazine back issues for prices much lower than what a typical American magazine costs on eBay. Theoretically, if there was an issue of a Japanese mag someone desperately wanted to have scanned, they could always purchase it (or arrange to have it purchased) and shipped directly to me for scanning, which would be FAR cheaper than either shipping the issue internationally or trying to acquire the magazine outside of Japan. Obviously this sort of thing would have to be arranged with the scanner on a case by case basis, but could be helpful for anyone wanting to see magazines preserved that they don't personally own or have an easy way of acquiring.
✪ SAYING THANK YOU ✪
Wait, what? How is being grateful going to help preserve magazines? Actually, this could very well be the most important way of all to help.
- Preserving magazines is a lot of work. For every mag you download, someone put in hours and hours of work, giving up their free time and getting nothing back for their efforts but the satisfaction of having helped contribute to a hobby they enjoy. But no one wants to contribute to a vacuum. Nothing saps a scanner's enthusiasm more so than an unresponsive reception to their efforts.
Let's say I spend all day slaving away in the kitchen making an elaborate feast. You silently let yourself in through my front door, remove a plate from my cupboard, fill it with food, and then walk out the door again without so much as a glance in my direction, let alone a "thanks for the food." Now imagine dozens of other people doing the same thing, every single time I prepare a giant feast. Would it surprise you if I eventually decided to just stop cooking for anyone but myself?
- As a matter of fact, this has already occurred at one of the other major scanning sites, which got so fed up with people downloading everything under the sun without so much as a word of thanks that they've recently made the decision to become a closed community accessible only to people who contribute scans or donations. Retromags won't be going that route and will continue to be open to everyone, but I completely understand and sympathize with what led them to their decision. It sucks to put in so much personal time, effort, and money for other peoples' benefit and then not have them acknowledge it with a simple thank you.
- Retromags has a handy button located on every single download which with a single click can leave either a "like" or a "thanks" to show your appreciation. That's actually one less click than the two it took you to press the download button and then save it to your computer. It's likely that the scanner/editor spent at least 4-5 hours working to make that scan available to you. Surely it's not too much to ask one second of your time to click a single button? Feeling like people are actually appreciative of their efforts is the greatest motivation a scanner can have. I can't stress enough how important this is towards ensuring that the scans continue to come on a regular basis.