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The DIY Book Scanner 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the lightening-the-load dept.
azoblue writes "Daniel Reetz did not want to lug around heavy textbooks, so he built a book scanner to create digital copies. '... over three days, and for about $300, he lashed together two lights, two Canon Powershot A590 cameras, a few pieces of acrylic and some chunks of wood to create a book scanner that's fast enough to scan a 400-page book in about 20 minutes (PDF). To use it, he simply loads in a book and presses a button, then turns the page and presses the button again. Each press of the button captures two pages, and when he's done, software on Reetz's computer converts the book into a PDF file. The Reetz DIY book scanner isn't automated — you still need to stand by it to turn the pages. But it's fast and inexpensive.'"
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The DIY Book Scanner

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  • Re:I've (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iammani (1392285) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:59PM (#30424528)
    We would love to see you scan 400 pages in 20 minutes with your 'book scanner'.
  • by Surt (22457) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:09PM (#30424608) Homepage Journal

    This is a market that relies on outrageous reproduction prices just like cd's used to. They are equally doomed. I know a LOT of college students who no longer buy books ... they rent them for free by buying them, shooting them, and returning them. It may take a couple of hours to do manually without a device like this, but $80 per hour is pretty good wages for a college student.

  • Re:I've (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:41PM (#30424846)

    Belive me, when I was a student I had to photocopy a lot of books. 4 seconds per page with a fast photocopier are more than enough.

    Then just put the photocopies in a autofeeding scanner. Voila'.

  • by kfogel (1041) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:10PM (#30425580) Homepage

    See also the BookLiberator [bookliberator.com], a somewhat more compact cube-in-cradle design, that's also easy to build. Although soon you won't have to build your own: we're prototyping a manufacturable, flat-packed kit to sell from our online store; see questioncopyright.org/bookliberator [questioncopyright.org] for more about the project. It should be ready next year.

    None of which is to detract from Reetz's accomplishment, of course. This renaissance in personal book scanners is going to make it easier for all of them, in the long run, especially as we can share the same open source software among all the scanners.

  • Re:A bargain (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Farhood (975274) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [irisab.doohraf]> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:11PM (#30426002)

    I have Kinko's/Staples/ Office Depot cut off the spine ($1-$5), clip it on all sides, and go home to my Fujitsu ScanSnap for ADF scanning, auto color/ b/w selection, and OCR. Oh, and you press the button once and walk away.

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @11:23PM (#30427606)

    When you OCR the resulting PDFs from using a scanner, you use a mode that includes data from the original scan. For instance, I just use Adobe Acrobat's "clear scan" OCR mode. What it does is it OCRs the text, and uses the OCR data to sharpen the scan of the letters in the PDF document. It then downsamples all the image data to a resolution that you specify. Basically, the resulting PDF is a hybrid between an OCRed file and the original image data that was scanned in. You can easily read all of the text, even letters that were not recognized properly by the OCR. The only problem this creates it that the text is not fully searchable : sometimes, a word that wasn't OCRed right will not be found in a text search, even though it's perfectly readable in the text. What you do then is do it old school : scroll to the bottom of the PDF of the book and look at the actual index. Then type the page number into the box at the top, and acrobat will jump right to that page.

    Problems : Acrobat is kind of slow on most computers. I think once I get a quad core with an SSD it'll be instantly fast, though. The second problem is that these hybrid PDF files are huge. A textbook takes up about a gigabyte at the quality level I scan them at. Not a problem at all though if you are reading the files on a beefy desktop PC with huge high resolution displays, though. (and such a PC would ironically cost less than a semester or two worth of textbooks...the PC would cost roughly $1500-$2000)

  • Re:Look out! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:13AM (#30428196)
    Hell yes it will. Prior to now it's been a pain in the ass to actually scan a book. You either had to shell out big money for a professional model scanner, which no one except large companies does. Or you had to scan in every page with a flatbed, which generally comes out poorly because that crease in the center results in shadows which results in an image that's not appealing to look at and read.

    This allows people to generate high-quality scans of books. Especially with the price of high-quality cameras dropping.
    I see this being amazingly popular with college students. The absurd amount of money publishers charge for books combined with the fact that college students are the group most likely to put up with having no physical document and settle for a pdf version means that a drop in sales is not unlikely. Now, take into consideration that at most college campuses with engineering programs there's generally a few people clever enough to build one of these and all of a sudden you see a business model start to fall.

    As for the liberal arts universities... well...

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