Amiga Shopper now available!

I’m very proud to announce that Amiga Shopper is finally available for download. After more than a year of measuring, cutting, bleeding, swearing, scanning, processing, compressing and checking, all 71 issues – plus the “preview” issue and a couple of extra bits’n’pieces – is now ready for the world. To my knowledge, this is the first complete collection of Amiga Shopper’s available for download.

This all started when – after one too many bottles of Scruttock’s Old Dirigible – I bid on a pristine collection of Amiga Shopper’s on eBay. They were going for buttons, and although the postage cost soon tripled the price it was worth it when they were delivered: beautifully-preserved, tight, almost untouched copies of Shopper in original binders. There was only one thing to do – cut them all up into little bits with a very sharp knife.

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From a few of these …
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… to a pile of these

Shopper, for most of it’s life, was printed on a heavy newsprint in a larger-than-A4 format. Newsprint is great as it “sticks” to the document feeder on my scanner really well – no more skipped pages (in theory at least). However, my scanner is only A4 in size, so I’ve had to trim off a small chunk of each mags on the left and right hand sides.

This means, unfortunately, there’s a little bit of Amiga goodness missing from each page. In 99% of cases, this doesn’t matter – all that’s been lost is a page number (which any half-decent PDF reader will show you), or maybe a small slice of an advert. Most “editorial” stuff had a fairly wide margin at the left and right, so nothing of real value has been lost. Very occasionally, I’ve managed to cut out the first few letters of a left or right hand paragraph on a page – sorry about this; think of it as an opportunity to improve your Scrabble skills by guessing what the start or end of the words were.

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Coming soon: Amiga Shopper – the DVD extras

The worst affected are the earlier issues: the page numbers seemed to float randomly towards and away from the edge of the page. Another problem with the early issues is the pages are squint. Honest. I’d scan in a page only for it to appear on screen noticeably skewed, and this was WITHOUT any Old Dirigible – worrying. I spent ages trying to figure out what was going wrong with my scanner, or whether I’d trimmed the page wrongly, but after measuring, using a spirit level and consulting a trained optometrist, there’s no doubt about it: some pages were just printed squint. You’d never notice it when reading the physical copy, but on screen they just looked wrong.

(Of course, I did trim a couple of issues badly, but we’ll ignore that πŸ™‚ )

The OCR software should have straightened up the pages a bit, but unfortunately there’s still the odd page in there that’s a bit askew. I recommend learning to automatically tilt your head accordingly, and reduce the risk of motion sickness by not flicking through the pages too quickly.

The later issues are much more consistent. In the last couple of years, Shopper switched over to almost-A4, which made things easier (only one side to trim to remove the spine), and then from issue 64 onwards it went staple-bound; these were scanned on a flat-bed scanner.

I’ve included a few bits and pieces that were attached or associated with the mag: subscriber letters, subscription offers etc. And of course, the whole lot is OCR’d throughout: as Shopper had a fairly plain layout and clean design with no daft backgrounds or mad fonts, the OCR has done it’s thing superbly – one of the few magazines that you could easy copy the text straight out of the PDF without too much manual correction.

So enjoy relearning how to get AMOS to print to your 9-pin dot matrix printer, or how to render 24-bit pictures down to HAM8 whilst saving to two floppy drives and your new GVP 52Mb hard drive simultaneously. And please, please, please seed this one for as long as possible.

Next: Amiga Format, due some time in 2014 :O

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18 responses to “Amiga Shopper now available!

  1. The irrefutable ‘Ken D’ – Legend. Best regards to yourself and all the LSD
    Grapevine Team; a magazine I still indulge in today and will certainly be doing the same with these kind offerings. ‘Nothing less than the finest from the finest’. Take care, Paul.

    • Wow, my first “celeb” πŸ˜‰ Thanks for getting in touch, and retrospective thanks for such a great magazine. But did you *have* to publish it in non-A4 format? πŸ™‚

      • It’s an oddity of the printing system than you can go a little larger than A4 without incurring much in the way of extra costs, as those bits of paper were just trimmed off and thrown away. The extra room gave our designers more flexibility, and made us look better value than our competitors – at least that was the theory.

  2. I downloaded all the Amiga Shopper from the http://awesome.commodore.me/?pagename=magazine&pathname=magazine&displayname=&picsperpage=20&searchterm=Amiga_Shopper recently and had problems extracting out text for my Search Engine project over at http://www.stone-oakvalley-studios.com/wordp_blog/?page_id=3012

    Using Acrobat 9 PRO you can useally re-ocr pdf’s anytime you want, but with some of the AmigaShopper issues an error ocurred due to “rendable text”. So, I had to print them as XPS and back to PDF, then re-ocr everything again. Issues: 6,9,12,13,14,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,26,27,32,33,36,40,54,58,62,64 and 67.

    Any idea why?

      • I forget, Issue 4 is also affected. I’ll see what I can do for uploading the fixed PDF somewhere on my S-O-S site. Right now, waiting for hours to reprint πŸ™‚

      • You used MAC to do the OCR? No wonder it craps out. I’ve seen plain text files freak out before trying to paste them into a company RTF editor and dots like “.” came out as a funky fancy new “.”, looks the same, but the parser complained in the style of Apple formatted encoding mayhem. uhhhh πŸ™‚

      • Aborted the printing to XPS and back to PDF, because the page size ended up as A4 (not self adjusting) and we get white borders. Instead I wrote a small script tool that converts the entire thing to 300DPI TIF and then back to PDF. Used command line tools “pdfinfo.exe” (for getting info about pages) and “pdftotif.exe” (to get 1 page at the time). Worked like a charm. Will notify you when I get them done.

      • Brilliant – got them all now, I’ll get them merged into the main torrent and redistribute them. A big sincere THANK YOU for spotting and fixing this – I’ve no idea how it happened, I was checking them as they went along but something went wrong somewhere. I’ll employ better quality control next time πŸ™‚

    • @Stone Oakvalley: Excellent work on your endeavour and intuition to implement this project, likewise positive notable acknowledgements to DemonHellraiser for embarking on the Grapevine challenge; both welcomed contributions to the community.

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