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kitsunebi77's Guide to Magazine Preservation - Part 1: Pre-scan

kitsunebi77's Guide To Magazine Preservation

This guide is not meant to invalidate the separate pre-scan/debinding/scanning/editing/compiling guides in our support section or suggest that it is a better way of doing things.  Rather, it is simply an alternate approach to the process based on my own personal preferences.  No single guide will be applicable to everyone, since different scanning hardware and/or editing software will require different steps to be taken.  Hopefully by sharing this alternate approach, the different viewpoints and advice found in both guides will allow a greater number of people to find them useful.

All advice given in this guide is based upon the hardware and software I use to preserve magazines, which is as follows:
Fuji Scansnap ix500
Photoshop CS6 ver 13.0
Weimall 1800w heat gun

Part 1: Pre-Scan

So you want to be a Retromags scanner.

It's understandable.  The fame.  The prestige.  The irresistibility to members of the opposite sex/same sex/non-binary gender sex/durrrty freaky anywhichway sex.  Who could blame you?

But wait.

First, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself.

  •  Do you have the goods? 
    • You're gonna need magazines, a scanner, and some kind of editing software.  Not all of that stuff is free, so if you don't already have it, there will be costs involved.  I can personally recommend the Fuji ScanSnap ix500, since that's what I use.  Barring that, I recommend that you find some other nice ADF document scanner.  Magazines CAN be scanned with a flatbed scanner, but good god on a stick are they SLOW.  I'm fairly certain that most people who begin scanning a magazine on a flatbed scanner realize before they're even halfway finished what a horrible, horrible mistake they've made and vow never to scan another mag on a flatbed again.  At least, that's what happened to me and prompted my purchase of the scanner I currently use.  For that matter, in my experience, flatbeds don't deliver results that look as nice as scans from a decent ADF.  This is not to say that you CAN'T use a flatbed, especially if that's all you have and you don't want to invest in a better scanner.  But if you choose to go the flatbed route, you'll need one more thing before you get started: the Patience of Job.  You might be able to find those at Amazon, I'm not sure.


  • OK, you've got the goods, but have you double checked to see if the mags you plan to scan are needed/allowed? 
    • There are several sites besides this one that release magazine scans.  It would be a shame to put hours of work into scanning and editing a mag only to find out that it had already been scanned elsewhere.  This is not to say that you can't make a better scan of something that's already out there.  Lots of magazine scans at places like the Internet Archive are of dubious quality, and even here at Retromags a lot of our older scans could do with a higher quality re-scan.  But unless having a better quality version of something that's already available is especially important to you, it's probably best to concentrate your efforts on scanning magazines that are as of yet unavailable in digital form.
    • Some titles are not allowed to be hosted here due to specific requests from the copyright owners not to share scans.  Others are not allowed because the publishers sell digital PDFs of back issues, and we are not interested in depriving them of their right to make money off of their products.  So magazines like Diehard Gamefan, Game Informer, and Retro Gamer (to name the top 3 most well-known no-no mags) are not allowed to be hosted here.
    • We have a 15-year cut-off date for magazines still being published, and a 10 year cut-off for magazines no longer in publication.  As of 2018, that means that currently published mags up through December 2003 are allowed, and out-of-print mags up through December 2008 are allowed to be hosted here.  Every year on January 1st, those cut-off dates roll forward one year


  • Are you fully aware of what scanning a magazine entails?
    • This might seem like a silly question, but a lot of wannabe scanners don't really understand the sacrifices that must be made. 
      • Your magazine will be destroyed.  Yes, Virginia, all the mags you see here are scanned the same way - by placing the loose, de-bound pages into an ADF document scanner or else onto a flatbed.  I know you think you can lay that still-bound mag flat enough on a flatbed to get a decent scan, but you'd be wrong.  While technically possible with something extraordinarily short, such as a 20-page supplement, even a short 80-100 page stapled mag is going to have gutter distortion if scanned by pressing the still-bound mag against the glass of a flatbed (a square-bound mag will be even worse.)  If you want to scan mags that way, it's your choice, but don't expect them to look good enough to be allowed to be hosted here.  To be a Retromags Scanner and lay claim to all that fame and sex appeal we discussed earlier, you're going to have to be willing to tear those mags apart like a chicken dinner.  Keep the loose pages in a bag when you're finished if you must, but unfortunately good scans require sacrifice.
      • Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime. Yeah, click on that link.  Listen to it on repeat a few million times.  BELIEVE IT, SON.  Debinding is fairly quick.  Scanning (assuming you aren't using a flatbed) is also quite manageable.  But editing is no joke.  It takes time.  And then it takes more.  And this isn't the sort of thing you multi-task, like watching TV while eating dinner or making mental plans for the weekend while "listening" to the boss's presentation.  Editing is a dull, repetitive task that nevertheless requires your full attention for hours on end.  I don't think I'm out of line to say that it's extremely rare that a mag would be edited from start to finish in a single day.  An hour here, two hours there, and eventually you'll finish and wonder if it was all worth it. Um, hello?  Were you paying attention earlier?  Did I mention the groupies?



Part 2 to follow...




*disclaimer: scanning for Retromags does not guarantee attainment of fame, sex appeal, or groupies, however it does come fairly close to guaranteeing you'll never have any of those things.  What did you expect?  You still read magazines about video games.  Nerd.

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