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Digitizing Old Magazines?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the back-issues-with-back-issues dept.

Data Storage 222

"I have a lot of old video game magazines, they're nice for playing 'classic games' because a lot of classics are impossible without the manual, and hard without a magazine (the magazine obviously negates the need for a manual usually). But they'd get damaged with a flatbed scanner, and digital cameras are hard to set up right for capturing old magazines. I know that old documents are digitally archived with very high-res cameras..." So, the question is, what is the best way to capture all the information in old magazines in digital format? Does anyone have a home-built rig taking after the angled-pair-of-scanners setup that Project Gutenburg uses?

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Wouldn't that be copyright infringement? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070401)

Just asking...

Re:Wouldn't that be copyright infringement? (1, Insightful)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070423)

Nope, not even close...

Next question?

Re:Wouldn't that be copyright infringement? (5, Informative) (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070863)

He's making a fair use [] copy.

Re:fair use? (1, Interesting)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070931)

Don't bet on it.
Seriously, you could easily lose that fair use argument in a courtroom (YMMV, IANAL, etc.), assuming that you did anything that brought attention to the fact that you made those copies.

Re:fair use? (5, Informative) (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070973)

No, no, and futhermore, no. We're not talking about the recording industry here (although they've been continuously defeated on fair use copies, along with the video industry). We're talking about making archival/personal use copies of printed works someone already owns, a practice that's been heavily tested in various academic and related arenas.

No, you could not "easily lose that fair use argument" in a courtroom with regard to this situation. Now, if you went out and distributed copies of the material, you've broken copyright law and would be wide open to civil actions.

Should you happen to continue to assert your position on this matter, cite supporting examples in case law.

Re:fair use? (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071257)

And people wonder why it's so easy for the RIAA to erode fair's simple, when most people don't even understand what fair use is, it's easy to slowly take it away.

Re:fair use? (2, Insightful) (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071773)

You're sadly right. I'm not going to make a personal habit of hiding away my perfectly legal use of copyrighted materials; in fact, I'm going to make such practices widely known. The fact that children are being raised to view the government and industry giants as shadowy figures that "grant" them their rights is disturbing to say the least.

Re:fair use? (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071403)

Yup, in the UK backing up your own media for your own use (and *specifically* for backup) has been legal since then 5 1/4 inch floppy BBC Micro days.

Re:Wouldn't that be copyright infringement? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24072049)

You're confusing Sections 107 (Fair Use) and 108 (Concerning the Rights of Libraries and Archives) of the U.S. Copyright Code. The right of an individual to make an "archival copy" of copyrighted material is a very broad interpretation of Fair Use - which covers reproduction chiefly for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Preservation copies are protected by Section 108, but only for libraries and archives. The courts have yet to decisively rule on a case involving the extension of Fair Use to cover something like an individual's right to digitize an old magazine collection.

Copyright is theft (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070871)

So who cares ;)

Same with old photographs (2, Interesting)

warrior_s (881715) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070411)

I have the same question but for my old photographs. We have a lot of old (non digital) pictures when I was a kid (when there were no digital cameras). And it would really help if someone have some good suggestions on converting those to digital formats.
I am scanning few of them from time to time, but there are way too much to manually scan each one of them. TIA

Re:Same with old photographs (5, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070497)

I suggest paying someone $5-$10 US an hour to scan the photos on a 300DPI flatbed scanner. Try an ad on CraigsList for your area. There are a lot of unemployed people with tech skills and no unemployment checks coming in that would appreciate a job like this for a day or two. How many photos would need to be scanned? Several dozen? Several hundred? Several thousand?

    Usually adjusting the brightness, contrast, and gamma setting on black/white scan makes the image look good. I recently scanned all the images of my high school yearbook, put it on the web, and received thank yous from former classmates that I hadn't heard from in forty years.

Re:Same with old photographs (1) (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070879)

Wow. That's one of the coolest posts I've seen on this site in a very long time. Mod parent up!

Re:Same with old photographs (4, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070679)

There are scanners which got feeder unit or there are some pro companies who can do such a thing with a price.

Software is important for such a project. For such a job, I recommend Hamrick's Vuescan, it has executables for Windows, OS X and Linux. Thing is, it will make things automatically. []

As I am perfectly happy with my el-cheapo Canoscan Lide 25 (upgraded from Lide 20 which had some accident), I went to Canon USA site to recommend such a scanner but it seems they have some mad invention there which they really failed to advertise. []

It installs to a Canon printer (which looks cheap) like a inkjet ink and printer becomes auto feed scanner. As I assume you got a scanner already, that solution could be a better thing. I am not sure about the quality though. I also don't know if Hamrick Vuescan or even Sane would ever support such a thing too. It is really worth looking into, perhaps see some demo or review from a trustable source.

Other solution is Xerox or HP multiple document scanners (with feeder). I would go with Xerox, I keep reading about HP driver horror stories.

He's trying to not damage it. (4, Insightful)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071547)

Well, yes, there are scanners with page feeders. But he's worried about damaging his originals, so he can't follow the Project Gutenberg practice of cutting off the spines and scanning the pages. If he can't use a flatbed scanner, he might have to rig up a photo stand with the magazine under lights and a stand which holds his magazine open with the pages at right angles. Unless even that would cause damage. In that case he'll have to wait for CAT scanners to get good enough to read his magazine when it's closed.

Re:Same with old photographs (5, Informative)

hadesan (664029) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071269)

warrior s,

My wife is in the same boat as you - she had lots of slides (~3000) from her parents, lots of 35mm negatives (too many to count), and a bunch of photos (again thousands) from all different formats.

I ended up buying her a Nikon Coolscan V ED for her to scan in the 35mm negatives she has and her parent's slides. She has been very happy with it. I already had an Epson 2450 flatbed scanner...

She scans the slides, photos, and negatives while working on other projects in her office. The easiest tool I found for the photos is Adobe Photoshop CS (a bit expensive, but worth every penny - you could download a trial version from Adobe.) You put as many photos as can fit on your flatbed scanner (no need to straighten them perfectly), scan the photos, and then click on File --> Automate --> Crop and Straighten Photos - this will break up all the scanned photos into individual files, arrange them so they are straight, after which you can then edit and save each one.

Someone else wrote some instructions at []

There are probably some scanners where you can feed photos in - but some of the photos we have are irreplaceable (no negatives or copies.) We would not want to see them lost due to a scanner feed malfunction.

Also, do yourself a favor, and make backups of the work that you do. You would hate to lose all that effort due to a hard drive failure.

Best of luck!

Re:Same with old photographs (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071687)

There were some old photos laying around that I thought would be cool to scan
on the recently acquired flatbed scanner. However, I found they were in thoseold style glue and cellophane pages. Attempting to remove the photos from the
album would have likely destroyed them.

So... I just scanned the whole album as is.

It yielded some nice "better-image-quality-than-original-photos" jpegs
as well as a kinkos ready PDF of the whole thing.

It really wasn't that big of a deal to do. Just had a stack of pages
that I would cycle through the scanner every so often as I was doing
something else (wasting time on Slashdot) with the PC.

Re:Same with old photographs (4, Informative)

Milkyman (246513) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071313)

you might try these guys, []
basically you mail them all your negatives (i think they take prints too) and they scan em in india, put em online and you can choose which scans to keep, then you get your originals back in the mail with a disc containing your scans.

Destroy the magazines (4, Informative)

btempleton (149110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070419)

Ok, you're going to hate me for saying this, because you feel they are collectors items, but really, they are just manufactured items made of bits.

So cut off the spines with an industrial paper cutter and put them through a sheetfed document scanner. Get over your attachment to paper.

If it's a special magazine that was signed by somebody or is rare, I could see keeping it. But otherwise it's a printout. The real value is in the information.

Now alas, these are probably copyrighted and can't be shared. If this were not the case this becomes a no brainer, because the "valuable" "original" would stay locked on your shelf, and the digital copy would provide value to many. It would be a strange devotion to the magazine to want to deprive so many of access to it in the name of preserving its "essence."

Scanners like the Internet Archive has are great, but they are expensive, and expensive to operate. As a result, fewer documents get scanned, and that's the tragedy, not the loss of the spine of a magazine.

Re:Destroy the magazines (2, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070555)

Now alas, these are probably copyrighted and can't be shared.

Depends. Who owns the copyright? It's possible the copyright was assigned to the publisher and that the publisher has since folded, or that if you contact the publisher and explain your position that you could get a release to archive it online, at least for the parts that the publisher holds the rights on (screenshots, boxcovers, etc. - that's different but will anyone care? Given the use, they're probably fair use as part of the magazine too). The other thing to consider is that it may not be possible for a publisher to feel comfortable giving you permission to reproduce their works, but would the actually sue you?

I personally collect Amiga memorabilia. I would find it absurd for anyone in this day to object to preserving a passion for the system. Of course when there is passion for something there is money to be made, but those businesses working against the collectors for the possibility of gaining a few pennies years down the road that will probably never materialize are not doing themselves any favors with brand perception.

Re:Destroy the magazines (3, Interesting)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070563)

Right now it may not be valuable enough to preserve. But give it 10 or 20 years, and you'll be glad you kept them intact. (read: eBay).

Re:Destroy the magazines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070607)

Yup! Vintage computer mags already have a small market brewing. All things retrocomputing are going up in value, including old magazine.

Re:Destroy the magazines (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070577)

I have to agree, scan them in any way possible. Then seed to Underground Gamer, probably the best way to get it to people who will appreciate it.

Re:Destroy the magazines (1)

Pitr (33016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070595)

That's the same thing I was thinking. Having said that, I don't think I could bring myself to do that to my comic collection. There is a certain amount of sentimental attachment that goes along with collecting, not to mention it's nice to have a hard copy, especially when your hard disk explodes, taking all the data with it. (Or your raid array gets struck by lightening, and your off site backup gets eaten by dingos... whatever. What? It could happen!)

Don't destroy the magazines (4, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070619)

I must respectfully disagree with the above reply. The magazine is not simply a print-out. It's an intact cultural artifact as a magazine. If not now, then in fifty or 100 years from now.

    Are you primarily interested in the text of the magazine articles themselves? Or the images (such as 'Mens magazines' like Club International that are primarily images)? Or are you interested in preserving the balance in the layout between the text, the images, and the adverts?

    For text primarily, use a stand for the magazine, and a 10 megapixel digital camera with a small tripod. Optical Character Recognition is the way to go in this situation. But it is hard to get the exact right program for your configuration.

    Are these magazines in English or a western European language? OCR is much easier and faster with 100 or so ASCII characters than it is with Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. OCR for these languages exists but the programs are expensive if you actually buy them. Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company. But, opinions differ on this issue.

    Keep the magazines intact. You'll regret cutting them up in the future when a more elegant solution to digitizing them appears that doesn't entail destroying the original materials.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070683)

Personally I feel that as the Americans "stole" millions of pounds worth of literature from the Europeans since the earliest days of books, Europeans have no moral, ethical or legal obligation to pay for anything developed and sold by an American company. But, opinions differ on this issue.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (5, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071463)

Europeans have no moral, ethical or legal obligation to pay for anything developed and sold by an American company.

Thems is invasion words.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (0, Flamebait)

Snaller (147050) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070883)

"Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company."

Wow aren't you a fucking moron.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070889)

Your Sinclair Rock And Roll Years proves that it's good when SOMEONE keeps copies of magazines (fortunately the Spectrum scene is pretty much completely scanned in, by hand I presume) link []

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071039)

It's an intact cultural artifact as a magazine.

Wow, I never heard someone wax so poetic about the stacks of crap in my dentist's office.

Really, scanned, it still is that. From scanning other things, if you want it done right and the paper really flat on the scanner glass -- cheapest option is to cut the spin and scan it -- as someone else said.

Other than that, you are getting into expensive territory... and for what? Some cheap magazines you probably can find on ebay for a few bucks.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (1)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071367)

What's with all the bad ethics of people on slashdot? It's okay to steal wifi because the network door was left open. It's okay to steal stuff because someone else did it. Duh.

If something is morally, ethically, and legally wrong, it'll still be that way when you do it. That's where the "Two Wrongs [] don't make a Right" cliche came from.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071717)


Digitize them. Destroy them if necessary. But capture enough information
so that you could recreate the original if necessary.It's really not that
hard and you aren't going to destroy much if any "context" by doing so.

A $60 printer/scanner is all you really need to capture enough information
to make a "reprint" with.

Make copies.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071751)

Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company. But, opinions differ on this issue.

lol opinions certainly do... My mommy told me that just because someone else did something wrong to me, that didn't make it right for me to do the same thing to them. Stealing is flat out wrong, doesn't matter how much someone else stole from you. And I'm not trying to make an intellectual property point. I just can't believe you don't see the moral and ethical issue there.

Re:Don't destroy the magazines (4, Insightful)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071785)

Personally, I believe that because the Chinese have stolen billions of dollars worth of software from the Americans since the earliest days of computers, the Americans have no moral, ethical, or legal obligation to pay for any software developed and sold by a Chinese company.

Wow, just wow. I have to say that I'm saddened and a bit dissappointed to find that anyone, anywhere thinks like that anymore. If you actually gave a little more thought to that line of reasoning, you would presumably have to concede that, for example, native americans shouldn't be obliged to pay for anything, given that their land was stolen from them several hundred years ago.

It is foolish, in the extreme, to punish anyone for the mistakes their predecessors made.

Acutally in the digital age (4, Interesting)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070649)

magazine and comic book companies are creating digital versions of the old magazines and comic books.

This might prove to be a business opportunity for a savvy geek that finds out what underwriting company owns the rights to defunct magazines like the Compute! series, and then buy the rights to them to reproduce them digitally. Usually some accountants and/or lawyers play the role of a corporate undertaker and buy out IP of failed companies. Then just scan the old magazines into PDF format, and sell them online for like $3 a copy to download the PDF version.

Some companies did that for the old 8 bit computers and game consoles, and made things like the Atari Flashback console or the Commodore 64 joystick by buying the IP rights to the games and the computer/console BIOS so an emulator can run inside of a tiny computer that fits inside of a game system or game controller hooked up to a modern TV set. Some companies also sell the ROMs online by buying out the IP for Atari arcade ROMs and other things.

Re:Destroy the magazines (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071121)

I reflected on this issue recently, wanting to digitize some old books. I was not in the position of having to use my own stock, as worn copies of the books were readily available, but the issue were similar. Here are my thoughts.

First, make sure the magazines are not already available. About half of the books I wanted to digitize were already available in digital form. It might cost money. That might be ok. You are either going to have to destroy the magazines or spend huge amounts of time taking pictures, either with a camera or scanner.

Second, do you need to have every article and every magazine and every page scanned? It could be that the digital camera solution might be best, if you can get the hardware, as there may only be a few pages from each magazine that is relevant.

Third, don't just say the magazines cannot be risked. If you want high quality scans, that are not crooked or folded, you are going to need a very good sheet feed scanner, and the magazines will have to be at least have to be unstapled, assuming they are not perfect bound. This will require much post processing, some rescanning, and some damage. If the magazines can be cut, it would likely make things much easier.

We are not in the ancient world where the burning a book means the literal loss of knowledge. In many ways, the copyright laws that keep books from getting scanned is the modern equivalent of book destruction. But, as we know, knowledge is not free, and novel knowledge is quite expensive. If this were not so, many of us would never have in the prime position that many of us has enjoyed.

That said, given the cost of physical storage, and given that libraries will likely throw these magazines like this out rather than pay for storage, and who knows if anyone will ever take the time to scan these obscure item in, it seems that destroying the old media husks is, at lest, defensible.

Re:Destroy the magazines (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071515)

I would agree to this--just cut up the magazines, scan them, and toss them out.

They can be much more accessible in electronic form--even to you--and aren't likely to ever be worth any significant amount of money. Plus you can pirate bay them, and they can be useful to lots of other people as well.

As one who has digitized a few thousand old family photographs, I would say forget the camera now. It seems like an easy way out, after all a camera can take a picture a lot faster than a scanner can scan a page--but the digital photo from the $500 camera will not be as good of quality as the scan from the $70 scanner.
It's monotonous and it takes time, there's no way around it.
Keep a "unscanned" stack of pages next to your computer, and toss them in a nearby trash can once scanned. Find an image program that can do multiple TWAIN scans at once (last time I tried, GIMP only seems to allow scanning one page without re-starting the whole TWAIN interface, so it fails here).

Book scanners (like what is used to scan valuable books without destroying the bindings) cost $3K-$4K or more. Not many places have them, and (-not to be rude here but-) those that do aren't going to let you screw with it for your silly magazines. If you had a small collection of 200-300+ year old books, they might see their way to allow that,,,, but probably not a collection of 10-yr old videogame magazines.

Follow-Up Question (0)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070443)

What about OCR'ing the scans? I've tried and failed one previous attempts to find an OSS solution that will allow me to start with jpegs and end up with PDFs or DJVUs. Does anyone have any suggestions on this front?

Re:Follow-Up Question (1)

PAjamian (679137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070963)

I've found gscan2pdf to be excellent for doing automated (via a document feeder) or semi-automated (flat bed scanner or other source) scans to pdf format and it supports importing from jpg or other formats. It also supports OCRing if you have gocr or tesseract installed (I recommend tesseract as an excellent OCR utility). I'm not sure if this is available for windows, though, you may have to have GNU/Linux to use these programs.

Oh yes, and it even can properly paginate all the scans of a double sided document from a single-sided automatic document feeder (it knows how to put them into correct page order) by just flipping the stack of documents over and feeding them back into the feeder.

Misread, now I'm sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070449)

I read it as "Digitizing Old Machines" hoping that Ben Heck would either be driven out of business or make millions.

Take another look at Java (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070461)

"best way" ... subjective.
"fastest way" ... Java, it's been (perfectly) digitizing and performing OCR on classic magazines and comics for years now. It's the clever new "Just-In-Time" virtual machines that make it possible, optimizing the character recognition routines dynamically at run time.
The end result? Code that scans (at least) 70 times faster than that produced with modern C++ compilers.
Even the best hand crafted classic-magazine scanning assembler only runs a fifth the speed of a Java app.

Re:Take another look at Java (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070547)

+1 Funny. Too bad I am out of modpoints

Re:Take another look at Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070933)

It's not funny. It's a rather old troll meme that won't go away.

Re:Take another look at Java (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071099)

But that's just the beginning. Java has a codebase made of prefabulated ammulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings are in a direct line with the pentametric fan.

In addition, whenever a barescent skor motion is required, it may be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocating dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration.

Plustek OpticBook 3600 Plus scanner (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070467)

I Use a Plustek OpticBook 3600 Plus scanner.
It allows scanning a book without forcing it flat.

The scanner itself is great, but be warned, the software is infuriatingly buggy, even in the latest release. Luckily there are work-arounds.

regards ........ Zim

Re:Plustek OpticBook 3600 Plus scanner (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071035)

This is definitely the way to do it. I've scanned roughly 20,000 pages worth of textbooks in the last one and a half years. I don't know about the software being buggy, I mean it is, but not to the point of being a hindrance. I use the core ActionExpress software to watch the buttons on the scanner and save the images to a directory. I batch tweak all those images with XnView, then combine them into a pdf with Acrobat. Once in Acrobat, I do OCR then reduce file size.

A mirror? (2, Interesting)

jadedoto (1242580) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070473)

The best thing I can come up with off the top of my head is get a light controlled room, and place a thin mirror (clean mirror, very clean mirror) in the pages... and photograph the image on the mirror when you get it at the right angle... Maybe.

Re:A mirror? (1)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071281)

Then why not use a good handscanner? When I played with them 10 years ago the only issue was the data transfer rate over the LPT port, not the 'poor image quality'.

Scanning troublesome paper materials (3, Informative)

j_presper_eckert (617907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070487)

Depending on the kind of binding which holds the spine together, I normally wouldn't hesitate to use a flatbed scanner to digitize them. Stapled mags are easier to work with than ones which are perfect-bound or have saddle-stitched bindings. From my POV, the collectibility of the analog original is irrelevant; all I'm after is the data itself, regardless of the physical container. As long as I accomplish a sufficiently high-res scan, I'm happy. I've occasionally removed staples prior to scanning or even sliced off the spines with an X-Acto knife. Of course I'd be far more gentle if the originals were not my own property. :)

For magazines which are bound too tightly (or are too large or fragile) to easily fit onto a flatbed scanner, you may have to consider setting up a photgraphic copy stand. You'll need twin lighting sources on each side of the stand, angled downwards at 45 degrees. The stand should have a screw fitting to mate against the base of your camera body. Reflections from glossy magazine pages may have to be eliminated via use of a circular polarizing filter added to your camera lens. I'm not sure how you'd weigh down the edges of the mag, though...slabs of a transparent material such as lucite or plexiglass? I don't envy anyone who needs to go down this route to take digital photos of the mag pages.

How? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070501)

How are these going to be damaged by a flatbed scanner?!? Most game magazines have only been around for ~20 years, max. And I don't see how the heat would be an issue...

Re:How? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070569)

How are these going to be damaged by a flatbed scanner?!? Most game magazines have only been around for ~20 years, max. And I don't see how the heat would be an issue...

To lay them flat, you pretty much have to break the spine.
I don't lend my dad books anymore because the first thing he does is break the spine.

If the submitter is really attached to his dead trees, he might consider buying one of these: []

Re:How? (1)

Rah'Dick (976472) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070631)

He probably meant the bending. I have some old magazines where the paper literally breaks off when you bend it too much, like in the way you have to do it to put it on a flatbed scanner and get a readable inner side. Here's what I do when scanning books or magazines: I get a scanner that has a very slim margin between the scannable surface and the edge of the device, so I can place my magazines with the inner side on the device edge. This way, you don't need to bend the paper nearly as much as with pressing both pages on a large scan area. Downside: you can only scan one page at a time.

Classic Comics too (3, Interesting)

managerialslime (739286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070511)

I have a collection of hundreds of comic books from the early 1900's. (So all of their copyrights have expired.) I'd scan and share them with the world but find scanning with my 30+ second per page flat bed scanner (in hi res) to be a time consuming.

No, I will NOT slice the spines.

The idea of 2-part solution where my digital camera is mounted and a separate stand that holds the comic perfectly is appealing. The solution would have to enable rapid turning of pages and the pages will have to remain as flat as possible.

A non-glare glass plate that does not reduce picture quality is probably too much of a dream, but I'm open for suggestions.

Give me some ideas and I may donate the images to Guttenberg or other worthwhile repository.

Re:Classic Comics too (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070785)

actually, the glass(plastic, whatever) plate from a flat bed scanner would be good for holding the page flat, i'm actually considering tearing up my old flat bed scanner and going with a digi cam/tripod, and a stand with the remains of the flatbed scanner to hold the pages flat.

i'm wasn't going to do OCR work, the pictures are important to the text, IMO.

i'm not cutting them apart, and yeah scanners take to long.

Re:Classic Comics too (2, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071011)

A non-glare glass plate that does not reduce picture quality is probably too much of a dream, but I'm open for suggestions.

If it was me, I'd undo the staples, scan, reassemble. I presume this is not an option.

But scanner or photocopier glass, a ring light. It would be the way I'd go about it. 8MP cameras are common. You might want to go SLR, something like a Pentax or Nikon where you can get the a stock manual focus 50mm. For something that is, I presume, 9x7 inches I doubt you need a macro lens. I didn't say Canon as the mount changed from the manual focus days, but that's an option as well, just good bang for the buck with a used manual focus 50mm lens.

I forget the name of the platform to photograph flat things. But you have the easel, rod, and camera mount. One can construct such a thing with moderate ease and low cost since it would be for something of a standard size, you don't need something which can telescope.

You can get higher resolution from a flatbed without a doubt. I doubt you need beyond 600dpi. The rule of thumb is twice print resolution to convert to digital. That being said the more bulky scanners, as in the ones that have height, these guys often have some depth of field to them making them more ideal if you wanted to rig up a reverse scanner, as in one that scans downward.

Re:Classic Comics too (1)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071151)

A couple of ideas spring to mind:
1. Ask a photographer. A pro will probably be too expensive (might not be, I of course don't know your circumstances). A photo nerd friend would be ideal - being a photographer myself, I could easily imagine someone photographing all the comics if he could get the necessary extra equipment "for free". Oh and I have no experience doing stuff like this, all I know is that a SLR with a prime lens will probably be best.
2. If you only find a slow way of doing it, consider digitizing a selection. If you have a nice collection like that, you probably know a thing or two about which parts are the good stuff. This should enable you to contribute lots of valuable things to the world without having to go through thousands of pages.

Re:Classic Comics too (1)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071411)

FWIW, there has been an upswing recently in the number of comics (and magazines, if you count MAD as a mag ;) on the torrent sites - while I'm not suggesting you post them on the Pirate Bay, it may be worth browsing through & asking the people who submit them how they do it. They generally appear to be very good quality, so they may have a few ways of doing it which doesn't destroy the comic...

Re:Classic Comics too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24072061)

You might want to look around in the usual places, there are many active groups and individuals working on scanning all the comics ever published, mostly from paper but some from fiche. Chances are that unless you have some exceedingly rare or obscure comics in our collection that they have already been scanned.

Let me guess... (5, Funny)

RabidMoose (746680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070515)

...this is probably the result of a "compromise" between you and your wife, because those old mags are taking up too much shelf space?

Damged with a flatbed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070521)

But they'd get damaged with a flatbed scanner

Really? I doubt it, so long as you accept a certain amount of distortion very near the spine (it's not like magazines print there anyway...) and are careful (manually positioning, no feeder). There are few, if any, computing magazines more than 30 years old, they're hardly whisper-thin flakes of ancient parchment. I still have "home computer course" and "home computer advanced course" magazines that are fine and I'd have no qualms about putting them through my (admittedly high-end) epson flatbed scanner. I don't because it would be a bit of a pain for not much return (not to mention others have already scanned 'em).

ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (5, Interesting)

maiki (857449) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070535)

I'm not a professional magazine photographer (as in, photographer of magazines), but these tips might help. Whenever I photograph a document or painting, I just use my plain ol' digital camera.
A few things:
  1. Do not use flash or direct light. Shiny magazine pages will reflect much of the light and create a glare. Use soft, ambient light (bounce it off a white sheet or something)
  2. Stabilize the camera. Use a tripod or a stack of books. Don't hold it in your hands
  3. Use a shutter release remote. If you don't have one, use the camera's timer feature (so you don't shake the camera by pushing the button)
  4. Use macro-mode, and set your aperture as low as it will go. This will help you focus on something close up.
  5. Use a low ISO. You'll might need a longer exposure time, but it will cut down on graininess.
  6. Maybe this is obvious, but use something to hold the magazine in the right spot (keep the pages as flat as possible to avoid "warping" in the picture)
  7. Try to keep the same distance for each shot, so the digital images are roughly the same scale. Also don't worry about seeing the background around the magazine, you can crop it later (better than zooming too close and missing the page number or something)

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070739)

Your claiming expert in this area, would you mind explaining why all that palaver with a camera is better than a simple calibrated scanner?

I've worked in large scale document storage and we had staff feeding docs into the scanners all day every day, the image quality was excellent, no weird artifacts under hude zoom, individual color dots are precise. So I'm interested to see what you feel is wrong with this far simpler technique we charged millions for per year.

Although the docs being scanned for the business weren't mags, as a dev, I tested them with comics, playboy and the usual business letters.

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (3, Interesting)

m85476585 (884822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071399)

Most people don't have an autofeed scanner, but many people do have a digital camera. A flatbed scanner would work, but it takes a long time. I needed to make a copy of a section of a reference book, and instead of spending hours lining it up on my scanner pressing scan, waiting for it to finish, etc., I set up my 5mp digital camera on a tripod with a light angled so that it wouldn't reflect off the pages. In 20 minutes--10 minutes of setup and 10 minutes of taking pictures--I got a hundred pages digitized and readable. A higher resolution camera and flatter light would have helpt, but the results I got were acceptable.

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071969)

I've done both methods - the camera is far quicker, but a hand-held camera will blur unless you are in direct sunlight. Then you have problems with shadows if the light is directly behind you . The author seems to have solved all of these problems with a reflector, tripod and macro lens.

Even a manually held flat-bad scanner will take about a 1 minute per page - 30 seconds to scan, and 30 seconds to flip the page and replace. With some skill it is possible to do the flip page while the scanner is returning to the starting position.

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070753)

These are good tips. To them, I would add that if you know someone who is a professional photographer, or serious amateur, see if they have a shift lens [] you can use, or see about renting one. It will allow you to take the photo at an angle from a tripod but have it appear as if the camera was positioned directly above.

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070763)

(keep the pages as flat as possible to avoid "warping" in the picture)

If a flatbed scanner would damage the magazine, then so would this.

Obviously what the guy so-anonymous-his-name-ate-the-adjacent-"writes" was looking for is a "warp-is-allowed" method involving a multi-camera setup, a laser-range scanner, and fancy algorithms to unwarp the final image. Shame on you for not delivering.

Not anonymous (1)

novakyu (636495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070919)

It says right on the title:

Journal written by kesuki (321456) and posted by timothy on Saturday July 05, @04:00PM

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070901)

You may want to try this document scanner:

Although it's less for archiving high res scans of documents but rather for quickly scanning paper documents in the office, it may be what you are looking for.

It definitely won't damage the magazine. And it's a very efficient device if you have lots of archiving to do.

Re:ambient light, tripod, shutter release remote (1)

shotfire (1190219) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071497)

I use this technique with old family photos and it works great. I've found the hardest part is keeping things flat, but if you can get that then you'll get good results. The only real problem I've had with this method is that on a partly cloudy day, the colours may be different depending on the cloud cover at the time of the shot. Now I only do it on a clear sky day with the light diffusing blinds pulled down.

Remove the staples (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070559)

So, the question is, what is the best way to capture all the information in old magazines in digital format? Does anyone have a home-built rig taking after the angled-pair-of-scanners setup that Project Gutenburg uses?

Unless we are talking about glued binding like national geographic uses, odds are we are talking about something stapled. Remove staple and use either a sheet fed or a flat bed scanner. Replace staple.

If that's not an option, then one can setup a photograph rig where you place the camera on an arm at a right angle and press down each page with a piece of glass. 8MP cameras are common place which AFAIK are going to be slightly better than 300dpi.

Taking it too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070637)

Trying to view a magazine in .pdf form just to make it easier to get all the powerups in Rockman?

I thought using a mag was already spoiling it, you sir have just gone too far.

Copy stand... (2, Informative)

dalthaus (1130049) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070659)

You might want to investigate an inexpensive copy stand. Generally the base of the stand has a registration/alignment system you can use and the lights are set at a 45-degree angle to eliminate or minimize reflection. This will work best if the magazines are simple fold-and-staple binding. If they are perfect binding, you will have to break the spine so they will lay as flat as possible. The other thing you will have to do is cover the page you are photographing with a sheet of the cleanest glass you can get. But a word of caution here... no magazine will lay perfectly flat, so there will be some page distortion in the image. If you are going to do this (break the spine) you will be better off with a flatbed scanner which will cost considerably less than the stand and the four 250-watt lamps.

Someone might have beat you to it (2, Informative)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070665)

There are a lot of scanned in videogame magazines online. Do a search for the name of the magazine followed by torrent and you might find some of them.

Computer Gaming World put up the first 100 issues in pdf form when they switched to Games For Windows Magazine. I know there is an effort (if they haven't already succeeded) to scan in every issue of Nintendo Power. There is a lot of other stuff out there too.

Look around for them and it might save you the time of scanning them in yourself.

Amen Re:Someone might have beat you to it (2, Insightful)

AJ Mexico (732501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071175)

Yes, yes, yes. Same answer for someone looking to digitize almost any popular-culture stuff. I get people asking the best way to digitize their favorite vinyl LP record albums. And the usual answer is, it isn't worth your time. Someone has already done it somewhere, and done a better job, and you can get their result for cheap or free. Just buy the CD, download the file, etc. Search very hard before you decide to do it yourself.

Similarly, the best way to restore a faded, scratched, folded family photo? Ask around the family and see if you can find a better copy! That can give much better results than all the Photoshop trickery in the world. I've seen it work.

Maybe try this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070667)

Maybe try one of these? Never used one myself but I do find them mildly interesting for my comic collection.

yellowcake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070687)

yellowcake from iraq shipped to canada? how the fuck did that happen? i thought there were to real signs of an iraqi nuclear program.

Just buy the DVD of scanned issues (2, Informative)

axedog (991609) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070691)

Scanned back issues (legal) are available from [] ALL back issues of Zzap 64, Crash, Commodore Disk User, Zero and lots of other 80s luvvlies!

Team of monks (2, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24070941)

Rent a monestary. It's slow, but it'll add some value to your magazines.

theres a lego rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24070983)


"Gaming" magazines? (1)

ThePopeLayton (868042) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071019)

So you're looking to digitize "Gaming" magazines... I guess you can call 'em that...

Some links on the topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071021)

I've been thinking about this for years. Here's some links:

The Other Digital Image Creator (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071057)

Seeing all of the aversion in this thread to using a scanner (and I agree with all the reasons people say its not pratical), reminded me of a situation I was in a couple of years ago. My wife and I were visiting an aging relative of hers who had all kinds of pictures my wife dearly wanted. Said relative had no computer, we didn't have the time to take the pictures elsewhere, and expecting her to make duplicates to pass on to us at a later date was unrealistic.

So, we used what we had available - our digital camera. I cranked it up to the highest res and took a picture of every picture. It certainly wasn't the best way to do things, but the results were acceptable, and the time it took was far less than it would have been if a scanner had been available with no risk of damaging the photos.

cut off spines; use ADF copier/scanner at work (1)

ecloud (3022) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071081)

I have many boxes of old magazines too - Radio-Electronics being the most valuable to me. But paper is not made to last, and takes up too much room. I cringed at first, but a digital archive is really much better.

I got one of these stack paper cutters [] (seems to be a good model), cut the spines off the magazines, and use the networked scanner/copier/fax combo we have at work. It doesn't have enough options and file formats, but PDF is good enough for this purpose in practice. It saves the PDFs to a network drive and I copy them to a thumb drive. Then at home I use Acrobat to OCR the PDFs, rearrange pages if necessary, split/combine PDFs, number the pages, insert page thumbnails, and re-compress them. (Yes, ick, commercial software on Windows... but there aren't many alternatives.)

It's still a slow process though. The ADF on the copier jams up sometimes, and processing one magazine at a time adds up to a lot of time when you've got so many like I do.

You're reinventing the wheel... (1)

ZeroPly (881915) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071145)

There's already an entire industry devoted to what you're trying to do. We scan rare books at work, in fact we have two employees who do nothing but scan.

We use overhead book scanners where the height can be adjusted as desired. The technician holds the book/magazine open with his hands, using his judgement as to how far it can be opened. After the picture is taken the software flattens out the area by the spine. If this is important to you, lease the equipment and software for a few hundred a month. Or you can spend several hundred hours jury-rigging a system with lights and writing your own software to flatten the pages. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071169)

You could assist the Retromags project which already has a sizable collection of gaming magazines: []

The best way... (1)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071173)

Flatbed scanner. All digital camera pictures will look like crap.
Save each page in a separate PNG or JPG file.
Put them ito a CBR file: []
Optional: Convert the CBR into a PDF with many available CBR free readers.

IDK, but ask this guy (1)

leamanc (961376) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071177)

Modern Mechanix [] is a great website that reprints stories from old issues of Popular Mechanics and similar magazines. Thus guy's got a ton of scans and they all look great. You might want to visit the site and ask him how he does it.

I love scannin' magazines (1)

British (51765) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071231)

At work, there was a Mustek A3 scanner. This is THE biggest scanner I've ever seen. two 8.5 x 11 pages fit in there perfectly. In my spare time at work, I scanned in every issue of Videogaming & Computergaming illustrated magazine I had. Why? They were fragile(some pages were falling apart), and it was an AMAZING magazine that put other publications to shame. Made in the early 1980s, it was fun & nostalgic to read over & over again.

Not wanting to keep this to myself, I scanned in all the issues at 300 dpi, straightened 'em out & uploaded them to my picasa account for everyone to enjoy. Did the same thing with a few other mags(99er HCM, etc) so they would live forever in digital immortality. Originally, they were in paint shop pro format, but after straightening them out, I saved them to a more agnostic TIF format, which also saved hard drive space.

The key? Get that Mustek a3 scanner. Sadly, it has the absolute WORST drivers ever made for a device. Expect to power-cycle the scanner and hope for the best. Shame, really, as it's quite affordable compared to the competition, and I can scan album covers in 2 passes + stitching. Trying to do that with a regular smaller scanner means I had to do it 4 times in a radial pattern, and too much distortion(bending of the cover) meant things never lined up right.

Making scans better - use a black piece of paper.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24071277)

Here is something which can help make your scans better. If you see ANY print through in your scans -- some parts of the image from the reverse side of the page coming through to your scan of the side you're scanning-- try this. Put a black piece of paper behind the page you are scanning, and flat against it. This will minimze the image from the reverse side of the page. has sort of a low rent version of (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071419)

the IA/OCA scanners. The Atiz Booksnap units cost around $1000 not including a pair of consumer digicams ($200-ish each depending on your choice of model). I've been wanting to homebrew something like it for a while but it's probably less hassle to just buy the ready made device. Of course their software is windoze-only but I wouldn't use it.

Whatever you do, keep the originals in tact. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071473)

Scans are great, but data formats change, hard drives crash, etc. I know lots of people with data on aging floppy disks that they just give up for dead. The magazine, if stored carefully, should last centuries.

Re:Whatever you do, keep the originals in tact. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071771)

This is just bogus.

Most "standard" image formats have been in constant use since this magazine was published.

The proliferation of home photography devices that use those formats will ensure their survival into the future.

Of course you don't keep just one copy of the data just like you don't keep one copy of a book...

Do-it-yourself book copying setup (1)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071529)

Read it yourself at [] I made the cardboard version myself -- works fine after a little fiddling, as long as you don't need to copy hundreds of pages.

But the Spine...! (1)

johndmann (946896) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071607)

I'm confused by many of the replies here which talk about auto sheet-feeders and 'double wide' flatbed scanners, but they all seem to ignore the original problem: the spine would be damaged or require disassembly of the magazine itself.

There are special flatbed scanners such as this one [] which allow scanning without flattening the spine. And you could also try a palm scanner [] , which I think they also have wider "stick" versions which can do 8.5" sizes too.

IMO these would be the best options to not ruin your original collection. I think the palm scanner I linked is a really old greyscale one, and the special flatbed might not be the best brand... But I'm just providing an example of the type of scanning technology I would use, not suggesting the specific products themselves.

digital camera capture and software (1)

tmbdev (1320455) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071715)

Because you're talking about capturing with a digital camera, I assume you don't want to cut them apart. If you are willing to cut the spine, then a sheet-fed scanner is the easiest and cheapest solution. You can re-bind afterwards. Or you can get a double wide scanner and probably still scan flat.

If you do want to use a camera, it's important to set up the camera and lighting correctly to make sure you start with good quality images. Watch out for specular highlights.

What you do afterwards depends on the binding. If you can open the magazines flat, then you simply need to intensity normalize and/or threshold the image. There are some good tools for that in the OCRopus OCR toolkit (; have a look here: []

If you can't flatten the magazine before capture, you need dewarping software. Dewarping can be pretty tricky. My group has developed some software for it and we're thinking about starting an open source project around it.

There are some on-line dewarping demos here: []

And there are some papers on it here: [] [] []

How I do it... (5, Interesting)

Ankh (19084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071783)

I run [] , a Web site devoted to scanned pictures and text from old books -- some more than 500 years old.

I use an Epson Expression 1000XL flatbed scanner (A3+ resolution, approx 12x17.5" with colour calibration), Linux xsane and gimp, for most of the images, but this does involve damaging the binding of thicker books. I scan wood engravings usually at 2400dpi, but modern screened pictures at only 1200dpi or sometimes even lower. The idea that you only need to scan at twice your print resolution assumes (1) you know what printer you'll use 10 years from now, (2) that once you scale down by more than 50% there's no visible difference (false). For colour you will need to do some descreening, which will generally involve something like an 11 to 17 pixel radius gaussian blur followed by a sharpen.

I also use a Canon 450D (Digital Rebel) camera on a tripod, with a 50mm f/1.8 lens (you can get the lens for around $75 to $100 in US or Canada, less if used) and a remote control; use the mirror lockup function of the camera and the remote to minimise camera shake. I point the camera at the open book.

In either case if there are significant amounts of text I then use Abby FineReader OCR; the open source OCR programs (and most of the other commercial programs) are a waste of time by comparison, or at least that was true 2 years ago when I was last researching this.

Go and buy a couple of large USB external disk drives, e.g. 500GBytes or more, and also write DVD backups frequently. Use a consistent naming scheme; I use a separate directory (folder) for each book or magazine, and I include the page number in the filename, together with -raw for the origial scan and -cleaned for the processed version. I use PNG to save the files because it's lossless, an open standard, and widely supported; I'd suggest avoiding GIF (not enough colours), TIFF (portability problems) or JPEG (lossy).

Obviously if you want to put the magazines on the Web you'll need permission; in my case I am usually digitising out-of-copyright books, although copyright laws have changed since I started, and also my understanding of copyright has changed. E.g I started out believing Wkipedia :-)

It can be a big project, but a lot of fun!

Planon's Docupen RC800 (1)

ArcticBirdman (957505) | more than 6 years ago | (#24071847)

You might want to check this site out. They make several pen scanners with their RC800 model being the best. Looks like a fat pen but allows scans up to 36" long and 8" wide. Works real great on books, blueprints, etc. Only downside is their USB drivers are not yet 64bit ready. Some models are B&W only but their top ones do B&W, documents and color photos, from 100 dpi to 400 dpi. On board memory can be expanded to 1 GB on the RC800. [] James

A good high-end kodak scanner (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 6 years ago | (#24072003)

Will suit your needs fine. We have clients that do much older more fragile documents in the flatbeds of those. Now you just have to find someone who'll let you use their very expensive batch scanner with a flatbed attachment...

What you're doing is in GameSpot GameFAQs (1)

ObiWonKanblomi (320618) | more than 6 years ago | (#24072065)

I have a lot of old video game magazines, they're nice for playing 'classic games' because a lot of classics are impossible without the manual, and hard without a magazine (the magazine obviously negates the need for a manual usually).

It sounds like you're more interested in information that is in the manual, in contrast to magazine text itself. Since that's the case, I recommend looking into GameFAQs at [] . It's possible instructions for many of the classic games you speak of are already contributed for. If not, then I would suggest you provide your info there.

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