DIY Book Scanners Turn Your Books Into Bytes

Submitted by Bibliofuture on Sun, 12/13/2009 - 11:12

For nearly two years, Daniel Reetz dreamed of a book scanner that could crunch textbooks and spit out digital files he could then read on his PC.

Book scanners, like the ones Google is using in its Google Books project, run into thousands of dollars, putting them out of the reach of a graduate student like Reetz. But in January, when textbook prices for the semester were listed, Reetz decided he would make a book scanner that would cost a fraction of commercially available products.

So 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. 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.

“The hardware is ridiculously simple as long as you are not demanding archival quality,” he says. “A dumpster full of building materials, really cheap cameras and outrageous textbook prices was all I needed to do it.”

Full article at Wired.com Gadget Lab