Hello, everyone. I'm Jake from Lansdale, Pennsylvania and I'm about to make my first book scanner.
I started scanning books last year when I started my PhD program. I got an iPad, wanting to make it my mobile workhorse for mobile internet, carrying textbooks, and all of the awesome stuff that iPads do, so I started scanning at the school library using their (admittedly really nice) flatbed scanner. However, it takes forever (5-8 hours per book of just sitting in the computer lab staring into space) and the quality isn't the best in the world. Also, it takes forever. Did I mention how agonizing it is to sit there for hours scanning textbooks? I'm actually giving myself a headache thinking about it now.
But I did it anyway, because I was resolved to use my iPad for textbooks. Less weight! Save trees! Save money (by borrowing books or using the ones from the library, which is perfectly legal so long as I have legal access to the library as a student. Technically I have to destroy these digital copies the moment I am no longer allowed to access the physical books in the library, but I digress)! Using the flatbed, Adobe software to make PDFs, and a combination of Briss and PDFSam (I'm on a Mac), I made awesome PDF versions of my textbooks and shared them with my few friends who have also gone digital.
Having a scanner in the library that gets the job done is one thing, but I'm 2 hours from campus and it's a pain in the ass to drive out there, scan books, and drive back. Scanning one book takes an entire day! It makes the beginning of semesters a nightmare. I need something better.
I was going to by a Plustek Opticbook scanner. You know, one of the nice ones with the really narrow bezel that scans almost all of the way into the spine? They seem pretty effective and $300 is a price I'd pay to have that power and convenience in my home.
However, I ran into major problems last night. The Opticbook is a series of scanners, including the 3600, 3600+, 3800, 4800, and A300. Only the 4800 and A300 support the sizes I need (A4 textbooks, aka larger than 8.5x11") and the 4800 is $800 while the A300 is about $2,000. To exacerbate things, only the 3600 has Mac support, which is total balls if you ask me. What's so hard about supporting an entire group of users with ALL of your products in a series if you're going to go through the trouble of doing it for one of those products?
After the Opticbook debacle, I started to feel desperate. Not only do I have to scan my own textbooks this semester, but I'm teaching a class and I decided to be the rebel professor who scans the students' readings, too (since it saves them all money and it allows me to use multiple textbooks and sources instead of being constrained to one). Viva la economica, right? Well, I searched and searched, looking for services, flatbeds, and v-shaped scanners of all varieties. I found the ION Audio Book Saver for $160, a lightweight, portable, V-shaped overhead scanner with Mac support, and thought I was saved. That's when I noticed "Coming Soon!" on the product page and "Ships in 1-4 months" on Amazon's page. I snapped.
"Fuck it!" I yelled in my head. "I'm building my own damn scanner!" DIYbookscanner.org is by far the most pervasive website for every DIY book scanning search I did, so I ended up here pretty quickly. I watched some of the videos of the devices in action, read some bits from the Wiki, and skimmed over some build threads before I decided that I wanted to go gung-ho into this. Go big or go home, right? I really like some of the metal and aluminum builds, particularly the collapsible and portable ones, but I think I'm going to start with the easier-to-make New "Standard Scanner." I've got my shopping list for Lowe's prepared, I ordered some SD cards, I'm trying to decided on some cheap cameras based on the SDM-supported list, and I emailed Frans van de Kamp about a trigger already, so I'm committed. It's time to forge my own solution to this bibliodebacle of mine.
To make things challenging, I've never built anything with wood, I don't own a circular saw (but do have access to one through my girlfriend's uncle), and I'm working in a (messy (from other craft projects)) single-bedroom apartment. I don't even own a power drill yet (though I do have a Dremel and a power drill is on my "Why don't you already have one of these?" shopping list).
Anyway, I'm Jake and that's my story. Let's get building, eh?