I love books. There is some truly fantastic knowledge and information hidden out there in hard to find, rare, and not commercially viable books. I find that I want my books with me everywhere. But that's where the problems begin. Buying, moving, storing, and preserving books means environmental costs... and when I loan a book to a friend, I no longer have access to it.
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.
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. ;)
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).
Let's start with getting the things you need.This book scanner employs recycled, found, and salvaged materials at every step. I think it's important to note that this is not only because it is the right thing to do, environmentally speaking, when prototyping and building things, but also because the major thrust of this project is to make it affordable for almost anyone. Affordability often means getting creative with what you have and what you can find.
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.