Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Books Hardware Hacking Build Hardware

The DIY Book Scanner 177

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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The DIY Book Scanner

Comments Filter:
  • Look out! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Tucker ( 302549 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:31PM (#30424328) Homepage

    Here comes the Publisher's Copyright Enforcement Gundams to give you "What For!".

    Imagine that, thinking you could actually DO Something like that with your very own property.

    What cheek!

  • Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sys.stdout.write ( 1551563 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:43PM (#30424414)
    I do this for my law school textbooks (unless you're a book publisher, in which case I am joking and would never break the law).

    I was excited when I read this because it is a pain in the ass to turn the pages in a 1000 page Constitutional Law textbook. Thus, you can imagine my disappointment when I read that his machine doesn't automate this.

    Most universities have at least one library which has a Ricoh scanner that does exactly what his does, i.e. it writes out a PDF onto your USB stick. I don't know where he's a graduate student, but I bet if he looked in his library he could have saved himself $300.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:44PM (#30424430) Journal
    How soon before the manufacturer of the $20,000 commercial version files a lawsuit against him? That would be extraordinarily sad because the American system of patent/copyright only serves to stifle independent innovation like this.
  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:52PM (#30424490)
    It may work well enough for basic textbooks, but the problem is that (for high-quality scans) you can't ever get the same image quality from a $800 camera that you can from a $80 scanner. At 1200 DPI, a scanner is equivalent to a ~384 MP camera. Even scanning at "only" 300 DPI is ~90 MP, a far bigger image than any consumer-grade camera can provide.

    The cameras he used were only five megapixels.

    Might work for looking at the pages on your iPhone. Not gonna look very readable on your laptop screen, and forget about reading the book's footnotes.....
  • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:58PM (#30424524)

    If so, wouldn't it be easier to just rip out the binding and put in the pages? The $15 cost of buying another copy is less than all that boring, repetitive manual labor.

  • by phantomcircuit ( 938963 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:03PM (#30424558) Homepage

    He keeps talking about how expensive the books are. Clearly he is just using this to scan other people's books to avoid paying.

    Still a pretty cool build though :P

  • Re:I've (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:20PM (#30424688) Homepage Journal
    Really? Scanning takes a fair number of seconds, then you need to lift the book in order to turn the page, set it down correctly, and start the next scan. Compare with: push button, turn page, push button. Limited pretty much by how fast you turn the page.
  • Well, ironically (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:27PM (#30424726)

    Ironically, all these books that he and others are trying to scan into a digital format where created in a digital format from the start, sitting on a publisher's computer somewhere.

    Thanks copyright laws! Thank you very little.

  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:29PM (#30424730) Homepage Journal

    One semester's worth of books in college today runs around $1000. With this device you can return the books after you've scanned them. If you rip out the binding, most bookstores are going to frown on returns.

    So this device saves about $700 the first semester, and $1000/semester after that.

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

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:30PM (#30424734) Homepage

    Right. After all, scanners have only been around for about fifty years: the publishers just haven't noticed yet. This homebrew effort is sure to bring the matter to their attention.

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

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:35PM (#30424788) Homepage Journal

    The automatic page turner costs an additional 19700 / 833 hours = 23.64 per hour. Hire a high school student for 8.

  • Re:better wy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:40PM (#30424840) Homepage Journal

    Even thousands of dollars worth of your time can be recouped easily over 4-5 years of college book costs. And rarely will a college student find a job that pays better than scanning their own books to save book costs.

  • Re:Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:24PM (#30425222) Journal

    I do this for my law school textbooks (unless you're a book publisher, in which case I am joking and would never break the law).

    What law are you breaking?
    Whether you scan it and convert the OCRed text into an audio book, rip all the pages out and turn it into an art exhibit, or use the book for toilet paper, the publisher has no legal right (AFAIK) to stop you.

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rdnetto ( 955205 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:27PM (#30425240)

    Not sure where you live, but in most areas format shifting is usually recognized as fair use. Whether or not torrenting the PDF counts as format shifting isn't a question that the courts have answered yet, but it's currently the most convenient method.

  • by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:31PM (#30425282) Homepage

    He may be scanning books to pirate them. However, I am a college student as well but trying to save money by pirating the books is not my objective.

    I am in my 40's and my eyesight is not what it used to be. Here is why I would buy the books and scan them.

    1. To be legal and comply with the law. I may very well by the books used, to get them as cheaply as possible. But I will buy them.
    2. It is much lighter for me to carry one laptop around on campus, perhaps with copies of all the books I have used for all terms up to the current term.
    3. I can zoom the pages to a comfortable size to read the text.
    4. I now have the ability to search through the text.
    5. I can use a text-to-speech reader to listen to the book, I can even make an mp3 of the book if I so desired.

    To me it sounds like a bargain

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:40PM (#30425338)

    ..and enterprising kid could buy the popular undergrad books, cut them up, use a professional autofeed / OCR scanner (pirate the software) and make a tidy sum selling USB keys for ~500 year old knowledge that should have been opened and standardized in form a LONG time ago. It's fundamentally _wrong_ that kids need to pay $1000's for undergraduate books when the fundamentals are hundreds of years old.

    Fuck the SOBs. You could make the argument that undergrads shouldn't even need books, if the Profs were actually as good as most of them think they are.

  • by Dj_fishlover ( 1149779 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @05:43PM (#30425370)

    I was also thinking about this. Lawfully copying your lawfully bought copyright work to electronic form. It's a clear opportunity for a DMCA to smack them down.

  • I was reading about OCR accuracy in my Game Developer magazine just last night, and they were lamenting that 98% accuracy really wasn't good enough for them. I know that the difference between personal and professional use is rather wide, but they printed a few sentences with 98% accuracy and I will admit, it was distracting. Of course, if they hadn't mentioned, would I have noticed?

  • by Thing 1 ( 178996 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:05PM (#30425964) Journal

    I wonder how long the copyright will last on this book?

    Based on the last 40 years of Disney legislation?


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

    by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:07AM (#30428152)
    Are you fucking stupid? They're doing the EXACT SAME THING RIGHT NOW with music, see how that turned out?
    Let's recap:
    -Consumers aren't having their rights protected
    -Some courts are actually ruling in favor of removing customers rights (i.e. every time the RIAA has won some part of a case_
    -Legislation to remove rights from consumers is getting more and more popular
    -The RIAA and other organizations are making bank off of their sue, settle, and drop campaign. (Sue at random, settle for thousands, drop the case if they fight back).

    The first time they try to sue someone, it won't fly back in their face. They'll settle out of court because no average person can afford to fight a company, much less a book publisher.
  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:33AM (#30428272)
    You might want to read the front matter of just about every book published to see that they specifically address feeding the book into a computer in any way possible and say it is a violation of the copyright if done without permission.

    It doesn't matter what they say. It matters what the law says, and if they tell you that you can't do something the law says you can, the law wins. The more books add legal crap in order to be more like software EULAs, the more lies they will incorporate, like software EULAs.

    I doubt there's much of a chance at all that you would be found guilty of copyright infringement for making a format change of your own book, for your own use. That's nearly the most straightforward example of fair use you could imagine. If you distributed it, sure; that's not fair use.
  • Re:Look out! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) * on Monday December 14, 2009 @03:19AM (#30428634)

    Not sure he did it for his own property. But it does prove that books have the best DRM of all.

Information is the inverse of entropy.