Ion readies book scanner for e-book buffs
Pump up the volumes
CES 2011 Fed up of paying through the nose for e-books? Ion, the company best known for its USB turntables, is readying a gadget that will help you digitise your paperbacks, hardbacks, magazines and comics.
Called the Book Saver, it's a large frame into which you place an open book. Tap the Scan button and the spread is digitised and dropped onto an SD card, ready to be transferred to your computer. Each page is saved separately, thanks to the unit's two flash-equipped cameras.
Book Saver angles the tome to prevent as little as possible pressure being placed one the spine. You don't have to hold the pages down to get a flat, even surface.
The upper section sits on top of the book. When a pair of pages have been snapped, just lift Book Saver up, turn the page, and put it down again to take the next shot. Scanning a spread takes around seven seconds, Ion said.
The gadget will come with character-recognition software, allowing you to extract the text from the images.
Book Saver is due out in the March-April timeframe. No price has yet been set. ®
I have a duplex sheet scanner but have not cut any of my books up yet. Have thought of it, but that would be quite the sacrifice.
Maybe I should buy and cut up and scan a book on book binding and book restoration first :-)
Ah, an area I /can/ add professional comment at last! To address many of the comments:
Bulk book scanning is possible - indeed, there's many providers out there that cater for it today (both for rare books that need delicate handling and for 'normal' processing). You can buy hardware that turns pages - but it's pretty expensive and usually reserved for high-volume processing work. When the book can be sacrificed, I'd suggest the average joe will get far, far better value by cutting the spine off and using a quality sheet-fed scanner.
Non-destructive book scanning requires more intelligent processing too - without a glass plate over each page, which is slow to manipulate and consequently expensive in terms of time and hardware, the pages will curve and the resulting images require a camera that allows for depth of field variations - not something the cheap end of the market caters for that well. The image will also contain lines of text that curve; again, something the processing software needs to take account of (searching for 'straightening curved text lines' would be a good start!)
No matter what book scanner you select (I assume we're not in the 'pro' end of the market now), you'll have to light the work correctly. What usually happens is that two lights are provided, positioned outside the left and right edges and angled in at about 45 degrees. This avoids reflections and ensures the page is lit evenly and there's minimal contrast changes over the image. However, I'm not sure how you'd achieve this with the Book Saver as there's nowhere the lights could go without casting a glare into one camera or the other. This implies the whole workspace will have to be very well - and evenly - lit. This is expensive: to get a decent, high-contrast image requires a lot more light than most of us are usually working under. To keep illumination consistent, given the legs and overhead box casting shadows? An angle poise or two simply 'ain't going to cut it.
If you have very delicate material, it should go without saying that you're better off leaving the job in the hands of the experts - the hardware costs alone will put you off trying it yourself - but for personal or occasional use you could consider taking photographs with a digital camera, paying attention to strong and even lighting of course - I can't stress this enough, and submitting the images to your software of choice. At a push, use your Smartphone camera (again, there's software out there designed to handle the distortions that mobile camera images delight us with)
Of course, you might want to check and correct any errors in the OCR before you finally convert to your format of choice. If you're creating PDFs, you'll need to use OCR software that can give you an ability to review and correct the text - not all do this.
Reminds me of "Three Days of the Condor (1975)" (Robert Redford)
In the movie they had a Digital Equipment (RIP) PDP8 scanning books and it had an automatic page turner!
Still, when this manual device hits the market it should do well, so everyone can have their very own :Google" digital library.
Been waiting for this...
Just set up my scanner for my two boys to scan some of the books I want to have on my Kindle. They get 1 Eurocent per page and herewith add to their pocket money. Well possible that this gadget will lower my "production costs"... http://www.reghardware.com/Design/graphics/icons/comment/happy_32.png
Seven seconds - figure wrong?
Well, i checked up on their website (http://www.ionaudio.com/booksaver) and they say:
"While similar devices require up to seven seconds per one page, Book Saver takes only one second per two pages! "
Perhaps you should update the article, it's quite a serious difference.