UPDATE: Please ignore this entire article. Apparently, they are no longer offering back issues in PDF format. I’m not sure when exactly they stopped, but it was noted in a comment below that it was already happening in March 2018.
Reader George Hunka has alerted me to the fact that they are selling back issues of National Lampoon in PDF form over at NationalLampoon.com for $2.oo each (35¢ in 1973 dollars). Not sure how long they’ve been selling them, but these are the same PDFs that were in The National Lampoon Complete DVD-ROM that was published about ten years ago. That collection has been out of print now for a while and is currently fetching very high prices on eBay and Amazon.
Like the DVD-ROM, only regular issues are available, and it’s the same not-great-but-okay-for-reading quality with very occasional missing pages and what not. But, if you’re looking to reread some side-splitting article you remember from your misspent youth, 2 bucks is a pretty good deal, and cheaper than the original cover price.
The PDFs are searchable, but that’s probably not that useful if you don’t have the whole set or some large portion of it. If you do want the whole set, it might be cheaper to purchase it even at the current premium (if you can find it) than to click the “buy” button for each of the 246 issues offered on NationalLampoon.com.
Remember, if you’re not sure which issue something appeared in, if it was from the first five years, you can use the Issues index. There is also the Answers section, which also includes a lot of info about issues beyond the first five years. In any case, the search box at the upper right should quickly help you figure out which issue to get if you’re looking for something in particular.