Daniel Reetz, the founder of the DIY Book Scanner community, has recently started making videos of prototyping and shop tips. If you are tinkering with a book scanner (or any other project) in your home shop, these tips will come in handy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn0gq8 ... g_8K1nfInQ

Best non-DIY book scanners

Built a scanner? Started to build a scanner? Record your progress here. Doesn't need to be a whole scanner - triggers and other parts are fine. Commercial scanners are fine too.
piotrus
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Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by piotrus » 09 Mar 2015, 21:56

Hi there. I came here after googling, in vain, for any place that would offer a newbie suggestion on what to buy. I spend few hours yesterday researching this, reading reviews and such, but I am frankly lost.

My laughable understanding, which I hope nonetheless is useful in telling you what a n00b can get from the web after few hours of searching, is this. Price ranges vary from ~200& to over 5,000&, at least. There are the following type of book scanners:
* portable pen/wand like mini scanners which I am ignoring, as they are more of a document scanner than any realistic solution for any serious book scanning.
* flatbeds, similar to traditional scanners but with the scanning surface going up to the edges, allowing one to properly scan inside corner (near the bend). I couldn't, however, understand why the price range on them is so great (from 200 to 2,000, roughly). Scan speed is one factor, but I am probably missing a lot. Plustek Opticbook series seems to be a major brand here, through I was unable to determine if has a better or worse reputation than any competitors (Microtek seems to be the second largest...?), nor was I even able to figure out what makes the cheapest models different from the most expensive ones (4800) to the cheapest ones (3600, 3800, 3900) outside the scanning speed.
* "book and document face-up scanners" have a different design, a bit like a standing lamp. If there's a proper name for this type of scanner, I haven't seen it used consistently. Price range seems to start at ~$100 (IPEVO Ziggi-HD High-Definition USB Document Camera) and go through ~300$ (piQx Xcanex Portable Book and Document Scanner) to ~700$ (Fujitsu PA03641-B005 Document Scanner / Scansnap SV600), through it's worth noting there seem to be "phone/camera holders" priced at even <100$ build using the same logic. They seem to have an improved workflow (you can just turn a page, no need to lift / rotate the book), but do not flatten the book, which produces distortions that need to be adjusted by software. That may be fine if your goal is OCR text, but the images I saw in this review make me wary of using it for images, the distortions seem significant.They also seem the most portable/space-saving, for what little it's worth.
* "v-shaped cradle" book scanners. Seem to be the best, as the pages are flattened, like in flatbed, workflow is easy (turn a page), and the book is least likely to be damaged, making it a must for anyone dealing with source material that has to be preserved. It is the most expensive, with the price tag starting at least at 5,000$. I have not investigated them deeper as their price tag is beyond what I am interested in.

I would dearly love it if you could add your wisdom and help refine this into a more proper description of what's really out there, and how useful it is. Being a n00b I don't want to suggest to you that such a post would make a good sticky, but as I noted, I am not aware that there's a good description of book scanners, and any "best" ranking/comparisons out there that I was able to find. Wikipedia article on this topic, well, sucks, and while I have written many articles on that site, being a newbie to book scanning I don't feel competent in adding to it (but, if anyone here would like to do so, I am more than happy to offer my Wikipedia-editing experience).

On the final note, for myself, I am looking to buy a scanner at < 2,000$ for digitizing my collection of artbooks (similar to comics/graphic novels, but some in A4 and at over 200 pages, hardcover), which I refuse to debind. I am leaning towards a Plustek flatbed, but as noted, can't really figure out if the more expensive ones are worth it. I love the improved workflow/small space of the face-up lamp scanners, but I have serious doubts that they'd produce quality (properly flattened/stretched) pictures from books (I also hate post-processing with image software, and I am used to flatbeds).

PS. I originally wanted to post this in hardware section, but it's locked, so... I hope it's ok here. If not, I'd kindly ask the mods to move it rather than delete it.

duerig
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by duerig » 10 Mar 2015, 11:22

The big advantage of flatbed scanners is that they can potentially capture a much higher DPI than any other system. Even with the best commercial camera out there perfectly tuned, you will probably only get 400 dpi or so at the absolutely most. With a flatbed scanner, you can get insanely high resolution (1200 DPI at the expensive end).

That being said, if you are scanning books (as opposed to flat documents), I would never recommend a flatbed scanner. In my experience, there is no way to possibly scan a book on the flatbed without severely damaging the book. And they are always going to be hideously slow regardless. If you want to scan art books and you care about possible distortion, you need a v-cradle and platen design. Either commercial or DIY.

rkomar
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by rkomar » 10 Mar 2015, 14:09

I have a Plustek Opticbook 3600 scanner (one of the cheaper models), and it does a reasonably good job. If you place the scanner at the edge of a table, so that the page not being scanned can hang straight down, then the book only has to open to 90 degrees, or so. There are two problems with it: 1) the gap that cannot be scanned near the gutter, 2) the speed (it's slow). I think that the more expensive models have a smaller gap, a larger scanning surface, and scan faster. If you scan a lot of books with it, then you quickly start wishing for that extra speed. For some books with the printing extending into the gutter, you do have to press down on the spine to get the print within scanning range, and that can affect the condition of the book. A smaller gap would help in that regard, because you wouldn't have to press down as hard. I suspect that the more expensive models probably come with better software, as well.

piotrus
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by piotrus » 11 Mar 2015, 04:51

At least according to official ads, the flatbed book scanners like Plusteks are supposed to scan right up to the gutter. I gather that this is a bit overhyped, and they do miss something?

rkomar
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E-book readers owned: PRS-505, PocketBook 902, PRS-T1, PocketBook 623, PocketBook 840
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by rkomar » 11 Mar 2015, 12:42

My model has a gap of about 7 or 8 mm from the edge of the scanner. If the binding is stiff, you have to press hard to get the gap that small. The more expensive models are advertized as having a smaller gap by a few millimeters.

The majority of the books I've scanned (reference and textbooks) have text far enough away from the gutter that it isn't a problem, but there have been a few that I couldn't scan the normal way. I could scan the smaller ones by laying the whole book on the scanner and pressing it flat, but as has been noted above, it is hard on the binding of the book. For larger books, I could lift up the side hanging down and push the gutter towards the scanner to gain a few millimeters, but it is strenuous work and difficult to keep the alignment right. I've done it for the odd page where the print comes too close to the gutter, but I wouldn't scan a whole book that way.

For cheap mass market paperbacks, I've found that most cannot be scanned non-destructively on my Opticbook 3600 because the print is too close to the gutter. I don't know if the more expensive models with smaller gaps can handle those books well.

recaptcha
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by recaptcha » 19 Mar 2015, 14:44

If you look at the customer reviews of the Plustek opticbook flatbed scanners, they are rather poor or mixed. Most people report experiencing the lamp/scanner mechanism breaking down within a couple of years. Plustek's customer service is also apparently nonexistent.

I looked into the Microtek zero-boundary flatbed scanners (XT Series) but could not find a single model available anywhere in North America. Microtek's only contact info is an email address and phone number listed in Taiwan. I emailed them twice a few weeks apart several months ago, but never got any response. I wonder if Microtek is even still in business?
http://www.microtekusa.com/products.php?KindID=4&ID=32

There is also the Kodak Alaris departmental document scanners like the i2900, i3200 or i3250. These are book-edge scanners that combine a flatbed with an ADF. After looking at their specs, I noticed the ADF is rated at 15,000-20,000 pages per day (recommended daily volume), but they give a rating of only 100 pages per day for the flatbed. This makes no sense, unless the rating for the ADF means they are rating the rollers only, since both the ADF and the flatbed use the same lamp/scanner mechanism to scan documents. I called Kodak to ask them about why the different daily recommended volumes and how long the lamp/scanner mechanism would last, and they gave me a vague shifty answer to my questions, and suggested I sign up for a service contract. Anyway, the i2900 is roughly $2000. And the i3200 and i3250 go up in price from there. With the fully decked out DIY Archivist being $1500, the Kodak Alaris isn't that far off in price. Besides, I really like the idea of combining a flatbed with an ADF so one could scan both books and loose documents (or cut books) with one device.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2418165,00.asp
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2470269,00.asp
http://graphics.kodak.com/DocImaging/US ... /index.htm

I'm getting worn out looking for a suitable flatbed scanner, and I am leery of the longevity of the lamp/scanner mechanism. Also the cloud of uncertainty around companies like Plustek, Microtek and Kodak doesn't fill me with confidence.

The minute you move away from a flatbed design to a camera and cradle design, things get a lot more expensive for a non-DIY model.
For example the basic model of the Atiz (book drive Mini) starts at $6,000 without cameras. And it only works with Canon cameras.
http://mini.atiz.com/
Last edited by recaptcha on 19 Mar 2015, 20:42, edited 1 time in total.

rkomar
Posts: 86
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E-book readers owned: PRS-505, PocketBook 902, PRS-T1, PocketBook 623, PocketBook 840
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Country: Canada

Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by rkomar » 19 Mar 2015, 15:54

My Plustek scanner is working for about 6 years now. Perhaps most of the complaints on the web are due to the light not working, but I wouldn't take that to mean that most people who bought one had the light burn out quickly. That's just probably the most common way for the scanner to fail.

cday
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by cday » 19 Mar 2015, 16:11

recaptcha wrote: There is also the Kodak Alaris departmental document scanners like the i2900 ... I noticed the ADF is rated at 15,000-20,000 pages per day (recommended daily volume), but they give a rating of only 100 pages per day for the flatbed. This makes no sense...
With a flatbed scanner part of the mechanism (typically the lamp and sensor) normally move the whole length of the flatbed and back for each scan, whereas in an ADF model the only moving parts are likely to be the feed mechanism. Additionally, the feed mechanism is a rotary rather than a linear mechanism, and in practice likely to have an inherently longer life. So the quoted usage figures could plausibly be correct...

recaptcha
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Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by recaptcha » 19 Mar 2015, 20:33

rkomar wrote:My Plustek scanner is working for about 6 years now. Perhaps most of the complaints on the web are due to the light not working, but I wouldn't take that to mean that most people who bought one had the light burn out quickly. That's just probably the most common way for the scanner to fail.
That's good to know. Thanks for that.
Do you mind my asking if you scan books on your Plustek, and if so, how many books you have scanned with it over 6 years?

recaptcha
Posts: 50
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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Re: Best non-DIY book scanners

Post by recaptcha » 19 Mar 2015, 20:38

cday wrote:
recaptcha wrote: There is also the Kodak Alaris departmental document scanners like the i2900 ... I noticed the ADF is rated at 15,000-20,000 pages per day (recommended daily volume), but they give a rating of only 100 pages per day for the flatbed. This makes no sense...
With a flatbed scanner part of the mechanism (typically the lamp and sensor) normally move the whole length of the flatbed and back for each scan, whereas in an ADF model the only moving parts are likely to be the feed mechanism. Additionally, the feed mechanism is a rotary rather than a linear mechanism, and in practice likely to have an inherently longer life. So the quoted usage figures could plausibly be correct...
Ah...that makes sense. So, the sensor and lamp stay 'on' and stationary while the documents are fed through the ADF and then pass over the platen.

Whereas, the lamp and sensor move back and forth when a document is placed on the flatbed.

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