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

Newbie Scanner - simple setup, and it works!

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Number of books owned: 200
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Newbie Scanner - simple setup, and it works!

Post by sam_brewer » 20 Aug 2013, 16:11

I found out about Daniel's instructable, and one week later I've got my first book digitized! My intent was to copy a library textbook (long out of print) for my archive, but I dreaded copying 1036 pages on a flatbed scanner. Plus, flatbed scanning of a large textbook gives questionable to crappy results and the thought of putting all that work into scanning a crummy copy of a book was overwhelming.

In desperation, I turned to Ixquick to see if anybody had a better idea. Daniel's instructable was on the first result-page, I took a look and I was HOOKED!

Wandering into this forum, I saw that the process had improved vastly from the cardboard-box cutup - truly, I am impressed with the efforts and results!

But I had the book on loan already, time was ticking, and I wanted to get this book done quickly. No time to assemble a 2-camera setup.

Fortunately, I had an old Epson USB scanner/printer that I had been trying to get rid of for weeks. The thrift store had a room-full of donated scanner/printers and respectfully wouldn't take another. The recycle-dude here told me it cost him $40 to get rid of a printer- so he didn't want it. I'm a half-day drive from the nearest Best Buy (thankfully they will take eWaste "contributions" for free, FYI), so there sat the scanner taking up space and waiting for its last car ride...

Long story short, I salvaged the glass from the scanner and also the sheet-feed support and the top cover. This photo shows the lashup duct-taped to my worktable and propped up with a box full of 3/8" sockets.
Book Scanning Setup 2 Small.jpg
This photo shows the full setup.
Book Scanning Setup 3 Small.jpg
I'm using an Oly E-PL1 on a tripod with a single halogen flood directly over the book (the small reflector). A representative sample of pages from raw JPG to Scan Tailor output to final PDF page shows that even this simple setup works fine.

Raw JPG from Camera
Raw input page Small.jpg

Scan Tailor TIF output
Scan Tailor output page smallest.jpg

Final PDF output
PDF Output Page.JPG
PDF Output Page.JPG (75.68 KiB) Viewed 3257 times

It takes me 4-5 seconds per page during the shoot-stage, once I get into "the dance", and just to keep things clean I stop to manually re-focus the Oly every 20-30 pages. With this setup, the pages slowly move away from the camera so I like to keep things "pin-sharp" as the Brits say. Not good for high-volume, but probably faster than I'd do with a flatbed scanner.

Starting on Friday with nothing but an inspiration (Thanks Daniel!), I worked through the weekend and finished the book on the following Monday. 1036 pages from paper to PDF including adding the TOC to the PDF as bookmarks (especially helpful in textbooks, where you're constantly flipping between chapters and sections).

Zero to 60 in no time at all!

Thanks to all of the wonderful people who have created the software tools to do this magic. And thanks to Daniel for the inspiration to " Just Do It "!


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Re: Newbie Scanner - simple setup, and it works!

Post by daniel_reetz » 21 Aug 2013, 09:08

We are definitely birds of a feather. This is a great intro to 1-camera scanning and I have to say, your results also look great. Cheers sam_brewer!

Posts: 6
Joined: 17 Aug 2013, 02:28
Number of books owned: 200
Country: USA

Re: Newbie Scanner - simple setup, and it works!

Post by sam_brewer » 21 Aug 2013, 15:48

Thank you, Daniel!

The key to this is the excellent processing software that allows reasonably good photos to be easily turned into clean, clear text and graphics pages. That was the connection that I had missed, and many thanks to you for making it!

As long as the input photos are decent, at least for textbooks, the software makes turning them into very clean and clear pages quite simple.

I have been looking into alternate output formats such as ePub, and may try to process this book with the Calibre software into a different reader format. PDF is fine for me at the moment, it certainly gets the job done! But the PDF file is quite large and since I have mainly text and some limited B&W graphics it may well be that another format will produce a much smaller file more suited for distribution.

PDF files are, today, a good, common format for distribution and well recognized by many. Most people reading files on their computers can deal with PDF files, but the newer eReader formats seem to be much more efficient in terms of filesize while retaining good quality. Important when distributing and storing files (although connection speed and storage capacity seem to be less and less restrictive almost by the day).

The dedicated eReaders (Kindle and such) take care of the format-compatibility issue by making it (file-format) transparent to the user, so some of the "odder" formats online become a non-issue for those using eReader devices. One just loads the file and reads. No need to install any special reader software, as one must do on a laptop or desktop computer.

I believe Kindle is not ePub compatible, which is unfortunate as ePub seems to be _the_ format for almost every other reader, compatible across almost every other platform. But the Kindle, a very popular eReader, may well become ePub compatible at some point depending on market forces.

I have also seen some publications in DjVu format, and installed a reader on my computer to read some files stored only in DjVu format. The quality was quite impressive, and the filesize a fraction of an equivalent PDF file (it looks to be something like a 5:1 to 10:1 filesize reduction as compared to PDF).

As I explore this, I will try to post findings in the appropriate threads for the topic - right now, I'm still rambling in an excited state :) .

Again, thanks for your work - I'm an old book-lover and this looks like an excellent way to leverage the power of the internet community to achieve something that is not really commercially viable. Books that may well have been lost now have a chance to be preserved for a while longer until the next, new thing comes along.

That's the history of human achievement - small steps that keep knowledge moving forward. Not lossless, but on average a net gain.

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