Digital books change the landscape . After suffering through scanning many of my old, rare, and government issue books, I decided to create a book scanner that anybody could make, for around $300. And that's what this instructable is all about. A greener future with more books rather than fewer books. More access to information, rather than less access to information. And maybe, years from now, a reformed publishing/distribution model (but I'm not holding my breath...).
UPDATE: We've outgrown the Instructables commenting system. There's a new place to discuss book scanner building -- please join us at DIYBOOKSCANNER.ORG -- and BTW, you don't need to register to get a PDF of these instructions. UPDATE:9/16/2011 - Instructables has kindly made the PDF download public for everyone. Thanks, Eric.
UPDATE: If you're actually planning to build one of these things, you really should visit DIYBookScanner.org. I have a new set of plans there that is much simpler than these ones.
I've built two of these things now, and this instructable covers the best parts of both of them. You can build a book scanner using only hand tools plus a drill. I realized that not everyone is comfortable with using all the different hand tools you might need to make it. So I scanned a book on using hand tools that should answer all your questions. ;)
Download a sample here.
Download the entire book (115mb) here. I may have to remove this if there are too many downloads. Please note that these were taken before the scanner and software were complete. Scans from the final system are much nicer.
We have written some open-source, free software to convert the images from your scanner into PDFs. It's currently in a rough alpha stage, and needs a pretty fast computer to get things done. It works on Macs and PCs. Help us improve it! This software is covered on step(78-79).
EDIT: Many people have commented that an automatic page flipper would be faster. I think this system is pretty fast. I made a comparison video if you'd like to see how this compares to an automatic scanning system. And you can watch a movie while you work on my system.
Let's get to it!
UPDATE, 2009-04-28. Step 1 now contains a beta-quality printable PDF materials list.
Step 1: Material Acquisition: Dumpster Dive in the Day With Your Camera
UPDATE-2009-04-28 -I've made a PDF materials checklist. It's currently in beta. Please help me perfect it!
UPDATE-2009-4-29: Here's the parts list by Autophile, who's almost completed his own scanner.
One of the problems of building this way is that there is a strong stigma against recovering things from the trash. I'll admit that this affects even me on occasion. With that in mind, I want to show you a little dumpster diving trick that's socially acceptable. It's terribly simple. Take your camera, and hold it over the edge of any dumpster you find interesting. When you get home, see if there's anything that will help you. Later, return under cover of darkness and recover whatever it is you needed.
I spent almost a month thinking about this second book scanner and where to find stuff. During this month, I was vigilant about noting the locations of various construction dumpsters, and I also kept an eye on trashcans whenever I passed them. Whenever I saw something interesting, I made a simple decision. Should I grab it now, or simply photograph it? If it was a dumpster, I photographed it. If it was something useful, I grabbed it right away. It's good to keep a fabric shopping bag or backpack on you to transport all the stuff you will inevitably find.