How should I preserve newsprint pages from old literary magazines?
January 8, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

How to best preserve pages taken from old issues of *Fantasy and Science Fiction*, a book-sized literary magazine printed on newsprint?

I used to have a subscription to *Fantasy and Science-Fiction*, a small paperback-sized magazine printed on newsprint. Now I have a pile of back issues that I want to pitch, but some of them have specific stories that I want to keep. Does anyone have recommendations for preserving just those pages?

I thought about cutting them out with an Xacto knife and then having them all perfectbound into a single volume, but I don't know how feasible that is. And should I do anything to maintain the integrity of the newsprint pages for long-term?
posted by cadge to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
I recall from somewhere that you can treat newsprint with a milk of magnesia solution to leach out the acid in the paper as a way of stabilizing it for longer-term storage. I just pulled the link from the Internet, so I can't vouch for its efficacy.

If it were me, I would photocopy the pages and keep the photocopies, or OCR scan them on to my computer, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2008

Not along the lines that you're thinking, but I would suggest scanning all the pages you want to keep, put the scans together (such as into one pdf file) and have that pdf made into a print-on-demand book (eg
posted by -harlequin- at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2008

I really think you should save them entire; I don't think you have any idea how pathetic and awful those little pages are going to be out of their natural habitat.
posted by jamjam at 10:04 AM on January 8, 2008

I would keep the issues that have stories in them that you want, rather than trying to cut them out; newsprint is pretty fragile and it only seems to fare worse when it's in individual sheets rather than as part of a book. If you want, you can think of the rest of the book as merely a container for the sheets that you want.

However, I'd probably also try to scan the ones that you're most fond of, before the pages get so brittle that you risk severe damage just trying to scan/copy/photograph them. You may find that the easiest and fastest way to "scan" them is with a copy stand and a camera, rather than a flat scanner (most DSLRs have more than enough resolution, the only trick is just getting enough even lighting).
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2008

Here's what my manual at work says regarding preservation of newsprint (from Preservation of Library and Archival Materials):

Much of the newsprint produced after 1840 is made of paper pulp that contains lignin and other impurities, and its long-term preservation is difficult at best. While it is possible to alkalize (deacidify) newsprint to retard its deterioration, this is often not practical because it will still continue to deteriorate at a relatively rapid rate. Also, alkalization after newsprint has become yellow and brittle will not make it white and flexible again. Photocopying and microfilming are the most practical preservation options for collections of clippings. All photocopying should be done on low-lignin, buffered paper using an electronic copier with heat fused images. Newsclippings that must be retained should be treated and then physically separated from better quality papers in a folder or in an enclosure made of polyester film.

Whenever we receive bound volumes of newspapers needing treatment in our department, our swearing levels go up radically. Just photocopy them, scan them, or bookmark electronic archives on the web (if they exist).
posted by ikahime at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for these suggestions, everyone!

-harlequin-, I love your idea of scanning the stories and getting a print-on-demand book made. I'm going to investigate that.

My goal here is to keep the stories I like, and in an easily readable format. I don't really care about the original newsprint itself - I just want the content. Sorry forany confusion and if I gave the impression that I want to keep it all in the original printed format - for some reason it didn't even cross my mind that I could scan the pages.

Holding onto the entire magazine for each story is an option, but I'm also aiming to declutter. These magazines take up nearly the length of a bookshelf, and the actual story content I want to keep would take up the space of maybe one thick book.
posted by cadge at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2008

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