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Share your process here - how to build something, scan something, or use something.

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Post by rob »


Firstly, go to your profile and fill in your location (city and country at least). If we don't know where you're located, we can't help you.

Secondly, you're not alone! There are members from all over the world on this forum. There are also hacker spaces and maker spaces all over the world which have tools, people you can bounce ideas off of, and sometimes even experts. Check the map to see if there's one near you.

DIY Book Scanning consists of four steps:
  1. Build a book scanner
  2. Scan a book
  3. Clean up the images and package into an ebook
  4. Enjoy your ebook
Step 1. Build a book scanner

The DIY Book Scanner community has cooperatively developed many different styles of book scanner, but they all generally have the following components in common:
  • A cradle which holds the book open, but not flat (to protect more delicate books)
  • A transparent platen (glass or acrylic) which flattens the pages
  • A camera (usually two cameras, see here for recommendations) which takes images of the pages
Scanners range in complexity from the simplest (a cardboard box and a camera), to the most common (the standard DIY Book Scanner), to the cutting edge (automatic page turners). If you're interested in scanning one or two books, the cardboard box scanner is where to start. If you have a more ambitious plan, you will want the standard DIY Book Scanner.

Since the most difficult part of building a standard DIY Book Scanner is cutting out the parts, we have a special forum for people willing to pay someone else to cut out the parts for them.

Step 2. Scan a book

Once you have a scanner, scanning a book involves setting up your cameras and lighting, taking pictures, and turning the pages of the book. People using the DIY Book Scanner have reported page rates in the range of 14 pages per minute.

You'll end up with memory cards containing your book images, which you should then copy to your computer. One directory for the left page images, and one for the right images. People have reported successes using EyeFi wireless memory cards to automatically copy the images over to your computer, thus saving a step.

Step 3. Clean up the images and package into an ebook

Some members have shared their workflow for this step, but this gives the general idea:

Check your images to make sure you don't have any pages missing or any pages duplicated. Once that's done, you can combine the left and right page images into a single directory by renaming the images. On Windows, this can be done using Total Commander or Free Commander, and on OSX we have FileWrangler or Name Mangler.

The next stage is to get rid of image distortion, and crop the images so they look consistent from page to page. We use one of two awesome programs to do this, one is Scan Tailor and the other, for more command-line oriented users, is Book Scan Wizard.

The resulting images are then packaged into an ebook. Many of our members use Adobe Acrobat 9 to combine the images into a PDF and have Adobe OCR the images as well. Others give the images directly to ABBYY Finereader and let it do OCR and output.

Step 4. Enjoy your ebook

Once you have a PDF or other file, you can use other programs to convert to whatever ebook format you need. How this is done, and whether indeed it should be done, is a subject of ongoing debate.

Nevertheless, the hard work has been done, and your physical book is now in digital form!

If your book is rare or out of copyright, please consider uploading your book to the Internet Archive so that the rest of the world can have access.
The Singularity is Near. ~ ~ Follow me as I build the world's first all-mechanical steam-powered computer.
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