I just found this forum last night -- it is wonderful to see such a large collection of innovative minds.
Since this is my first post, I figured I would share some background information about myself:
Years ago when I was in college, one Friday afternoon I received a telephone call from one of the students who rented a room in the same house in which I was living. They explained that they had gone out of state for the weekend and had inadvertently left one of their engineering textbooks behind. The request: obtain the textbook from their bedroom, scan a specific chapter (approx. 50 pages) and e-mail the scans to them so they could submit homework before the deadline Sunday night.
After locating the book, I found and dusted off my flatbed scanner, installed the necessary software and began the process of scanning. The scanner was terribly slow, even at b/w low resolution. Furthermore, the scanner seemed to insist that it take a break after every 10 pages of scanning. Not sure if that was intentional in the design or just my old scanner being a piece of junk?
The tedious process caused me to reflect on my digital camera -- a Konica Minolta 3.3 MP with 7x zoom. (I know that is obsolete by today's standards, but at the time one could not buy a better camera.) I marveled at how this camera could capture a high-res color image of a page in 1 second, while the scanner took approximately 30 seconds per page (15 for the scan, 15 to reset the scan carriage) I began to envision an automated system which would use a digital camera to capture the pages, turn the pages, download the images, post process and assemble into an eBook format (.pdf, .chm, etc.)
At the time, I was already involved in another exploratory project -- building an automated lawnmower to mow my lawn for me based on GPS technology (as opposed to boundary fences or other guides). However, I still found time to daydream about the camera based book scanner during some lectures that were less than interesting. At the time, the best way I could conjecture for turning pages was based on a vacuum. The vacuum would come down and form a light suction on the top page (and only the top page). Upon lifting the vacuum slightly, the top page would rise at which point a small mechanical rod would assist in flipping the page. However, with this approach a means to ensure only one page was flipped is still required. The pages for some books are sometimes more prone to want to rise on their own and it is possible that the top page PLUS one or more additional "springy" pages could inadvertently be turned. As a result this approach would probably need some more work, but I like it best as it seems to have the minimal potential for smudging or damaging the page during the page-turn process.
Why do I care about book scanning now:
I value physical books, but also like to have them in digital form. Typically, I can find many of the books I already own in digital form. However, my Dad has kept a written family journal/diary for the past 20+ years. These journals are not a collection of a private thoughts, but rather a history of high-level day to day life events for our family. I would like to electronically preserve these records so that my brothers and I can all have a copy in addition to creating a backup copy for my parents (against fire, flood, etc.)
Professional background and other interests:
I am a software engineer who enjoys most things geek. Yes, I am a nerd, but I am not afraid of people either Feel free to give me a shout.
PS: Are there any decent economical kits/pre-built devices that one can buy for an (automated) book scanning project?