24 May

DIY Book Scanner: Thinking About Hardware and Software (Part 2)

Now with all that out of the way, it’s time to get down to the business of thinking about the design phase of the build…

Clearly, there are two chief considerations:

  1. What hardware am I going to use to physically capture the images with sufficient quality and absent of major defects?
  2. What software can I use that will allow me to:
    1. Provide any post-processing necessary to minimise any defects unable to be eliminated at the capture stage
    2. Store and collate the images in a fashion so that they can easily be made into PDF later (numbered files 0001, 0002 etc. would be helpful!)
    3. Batch process all of the above into a final, complete PDF that can then be put through OCR software to allow for search.

Phew! Fortunately, from my general experience I know how I can do most of the software side of things already. Hardware? Well that might be a little more tricky…


23 May

DIY Book Scanner: Introduction (Part 1)

This series of blog posts will document my foray into DIY Book Scanning…
The Rationale

As a person currently in the midst of completing a Ph.D (director liability in insolvent companies, if you were wondering) books are an essential part of my life. Not only do I have a pressing and continual need to access high quality resources but, more and more so, find that I have a need to be able to access these ‘on the go’. Many of the texts that I use on a regular basis are either unavailable as an eBook version and/or cost somewhere in the region of £200+ per volume, thereby making it cost prohibitive to do anything other than borrow them from the University library. The age-old solution that I have become accustomed to putting up with throughout the course of my degree has been to simply photocopy the relevant pages. This method clearly has its shortcomings: books don’t scan particularly well on a platen at 180 degrees; at best the images produced will suffer from curvature of the text/cropping around the area of the gutter, at worst it may cause significant damage to the spine of the book (whilst this isn’t a tragedy if you’re scanning from a reprint of a Harry Potter novel, it might be if it’s the latest edition of Chitty on Contracts you’re dealing with. Yes, there are in-print books in the world that cost over £500!). It is also an especially laborious experience should you wish to scan any more than a handful of pages. Remaining in the world of the printed-paper also is inhibitive of the Cmd/Ctrl + F ability we are now all accustomed to within daily life; being able to search through vast documents at speed is invaluable in a research context. Through technologies such as OCR, this is in reach even for those publications never afforded the eBook treatment by the publisher or, as in my case, where the cost of the eBooks is the primary hinderance, but hard-copies are available as part of library stock .

So, I have decided to build a book scanner; not with the aim of preservation in mind – an aim many DIY book scanning folk set out to achieve – but merely as a 21st century research tool. I also think it is rather cool. But, more importantly, as the technology-and-DIY-enthusiast-type, I simply could not resist the challenge.



23 May


Welcome to this blog, through which I hope to showcase my most recent projects.