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Old 10-07-2006, 05:29 PM   #16
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Opticbook

I bought an Opticbook scanner a few months ago and love it. The biggest drawback for me is that the software is Win only and I'm mostly a Mac person. I was able to drag out an old Dell laptop and I use that right now, though a MacTel system is definitely in my future.

The combo of the design of the scanner and the software works very well, imo. There are buttons on the scanner itself that set up the software and preview, and separate buttons for the kind of scan you want: color, greyscale, or b & w. This makes the scanning go much faster because I'm not having to click on the computer, just press the buttons on the scanner. (I do set up folder, file prefex, etc., on the computer first.)

The downside is that one has to scan only a page at a time to get that nearly-spine-shadow-free scan. The upside of that is that the software will auto rotate every other page so all pages are right side up. Very nice.

(For books that aren't too fragile, I still use my Epson Perfection scanner because the software does a great job of scanning two pages into two separate files with one scan. The Opticbook software may also do this, but I haven't investigated it.)

I scan as tiff files, then pull them in Adobe Acrobat 7 (on my Mac) and do an OCR from there. (Usually - I have some scanned books that are from the 18th century and consequently use a long 's' which totally screws up the OCR. There's also the issue of thin paper (19th century books tend to have thicker paper which is a dream to scan, but 18th century books often have nearly see-through paper) and occasionally I have to use black paper inserts, which does add to the scanning time. )

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.
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Old 10-07-2006, 06:25 PM   #17
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I do have some questions. Actually lots of questions!...

1) Has anyone got a good inexpensive method of scanning paperbacks quickly? It seems that if you are willing to tear the pages out (I assume that isn't too hard with an exacto knife if you don't care about destroying the book), you should be able to scan quickly with an auto sheetfeeder. That would be useful if there's a good ocr program that can handle odd page scans and then followed by all the even page scans, and deal gracefully with crooked pages or rescans.

Has anyone found a way to do this?

2) Which Epson Perfection scanner do you have, Studio717? Is it big enough for hardbacks, 2 pp per scan? How fast does it do a pair of pages, and what resolution do you use? Does it have any OCR sw, or do you use Abby from the Optibook for that?
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Old 10-08-2006, 06:33 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell
1) Has anyone got a good inexpensive method of scanning paperbacks quickly? It seems that if you are willing to tear the pages out (I assume that isn't too hard with an exacto knife if you don't care about destroying the book), you should be able to scan quickly with an auto sheetfeeder. That would be useful if there's a good ocr program that can handle odd page scans and then followed by all the even page scans, and deal gracefully with crooked pages or rescans.
If FineReader is part of your workflow (i.e. for creating OCR'ed text or PDF from image files), tell it to scan odd pages forwards, and even pages backwards. (It's the 'Ask for page number before adding page to batch' option, then select 'odd and even separately'.)

As long as there's no double feed, everything works, but if it does scan two pages as one, it's usually rather messy to fix things up again as a number of odd or even pages have to be renumbered to make the missing page fit the scan sequence.
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Old 10-08-2006, 11:54 AM   #19
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I have two flatbed scanners -- An Opticbook 3600 and an Epson Perfection 1670. Both are fast as flatbed scanners go. Obviously you need to have USB 2 on your PC -- USB 1.1 is too damn slow.

Scanning on a flatbed don't take me much time - its the proofreading afterwards that is time consuming. This has to be done even if you have an expensive and fast sheet feeder scanner. I scan paperbacks two pages at a time using Abbyy Fine Reader 8. (I find the Abbyy FR Lite that often comes free with a new scanner totally useless). Whether you scan in portrait or landscape mode Abbyy is clever enough to sort out the orientation. Spell-checking and scanning errors are very easy to correct using the tools that come with Abbyy FR.

You can, of course, scan straight to PDF. This is a very quick way of producing ebooks but with one problem -- the resulting PDF file will display very nicely on a PC but I find the result too small to read on any ebook reading device. I prefer to OCR, proofread, and set a pagesize and fontsize to suit my reader. If anyone knows how to scan PDFs to a smaller page size / larger font size please let me know because this really is the fastest way.

I scan at 300 dpi, greyscale and set the scanner so that it scans the area of the book only. It's a waste of time if the scanner beam moves over the whole A4 bed.

The OpticBook 3600 is great for hardbacks - but limited for paper backs because it needs a minimum 6mm gutter on the book which paperbacks do not usually have. It is possible of course, to use the OpticBook in the same way as any other flatbed scanner - two pages at a time - which necessitates pressing down on the spine of the book to ensure it is as flat to the glass as possible.
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Old 10-08-2006, 12:47 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Moonraker
It is possible of course, to use the OpticBook in the same way as any other flatbed scanner - two pages at a time - which necessitates pressing down on the spine of the book to ensure it is as flat to the glass as possible.
So for paperbacks without sufficient margin, is OpticBook just as good as other flatbed scanners when used two pages at a time (with the included software)? And big enough for most paperbacks 2pp/scan?
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Old 10-08-2006, 04:10 PM   #21
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You can certainly use an Opticbook 3600 scanner for scanning two pages at a time using Abbyy Fine Reader software. The result will be equally good as using an ordinary flatbed scanner.

I am doubtful whether this is possible using Plustek's Book Pilot software that comes with the Opticbook. I believe it can only manage one page at a time.
This is where you need the minimum 6mm gutter on your book because half the book hangs over the side. The scanner beam can not read right up to the edge of the glass but can read 6mm in from the edge..

Also, I don't believe that the Book Pilot software is an OCR programme. I think it will scan your book into images which then have to be sent to an OCR programme such as AFR. I think Plustek bundle AFR 5 with their scanner - which, quite frankly, is not up to the job. You need AFR 7 or 8 for professional results.

The Opticbook scanner surface is about the same size as a regular A4 scanner so it is large enough for the majority of books.

I use AFR with both my scanners. I used Plustek's own software very briefly when I first got the Opticbook. I found it tiresome to use compared with Abbyy FR so I gave up on it.

I am busy using AFR at the moment but later I will try Plustek's software again and report back here.

Last edited by Moonraker; 10-08-2006 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 10-08-2006, 04:27 PM   #22
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Fantastic info, Moonraker. Thanks much! If you have the opportunity to get back with that next report, I look forward to the additional info on Plusteks softare also.
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Old 10-09-2006, 12:23 PM   #23
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I am attaching my experience using Plustek's software in an rtf file — it's two pages — too long I feel to paste here.

I must add that this reflects only my own experience — others may report differently.
Attached Files
File Type: rar My Experience with Plustek Software.rar (4.6 KB, 843 views)
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Old 10-09-2006, 02:41 PM   #24
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Fantastic work, Moonraker! Very interesting to hear more about the process.

One thing I don't understand, though, is whether you can send all the tif page images to the included AFR, or if you need AFR 8 Pro? Wouldn't it be sufficient to do the scanning and the use the included version of AFR for the rest?

And a thought for launching Action Express... if it won't launch because of thinking a window is already open, maybe you can kill a rogue task in the task manager?
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Old 10-09-2006, 03:24 PM   #25
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You don't need AFR 8 Pro. You could just install AFR 5 (Sprint?) that comes with the OpticBook scanner. It would be installed as a separate application - it does not automatically get installed with the Plustek Software. It would work in the same way as I have described with AFR 8 but not so well. I think users would be very disappointed with its capabilities.

Re your Task Manager comment -- I did not think of that -- if I ever use the Plustek software again I will bear it in mind. Thank you.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:40 PM   #26
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Opticbook 3600 scans a full A4/Letter sized page in 7-8 seconds, either in black and white monochrome 300dpi, grey or color mode, the fastest flatbed scanner I've been using so far under $250. I've been using Epson 1660 and 1670, which are about the same speed, 11-12 seconds a page for 300dpi A4 b/w. In my experience, Epson 1660 and 1670 are only second to Opticbook 3600 among fast speed low-cost scanners, with an average price below $100 and easy to carry within a backpack. But Opticbook 3600 certainly has the advantage of zero-edge scanning and auto-rotating pages while scanning. I wish Plustek could further improve the speed of their Opticbook models, for example, a speed of 2-3 seconds per A4 page would be perfect. That theoretically means a 300-paged book can be scanned within 10 minutes. For splitting the A4 sized tiff page into two A5 pages automatically, I use Photoshop macro function. I have tried Abbyy Finereader auto dual-page separator, but the problem with it is that it often fails to split the page evenly and it doesn’t split the blank page, which could result in undesired pdf file creation.
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Old 10-10-2006, 01:57 PM   #27
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My Epson scanner is the Perfection 3200 Photo (it's a couple of years old, at least) and does a beautiful job. It's fast - though I've never timed it - with both USB 2.0 and Firewire. The software works well on my Mac, so that's the scanner I usually favor when scanning anything other than books.

I scan mostly as part of a research project so I can have searchable text. My process is a little different: I usually scan in B & W at 300dpi, not greyscale. (I find the smaller files easier to use.) The text comes in clear and crisp and the OCR in Acrobat has no trouble with it. I do occasionally scan greyscale, but that's for photos, illustrations, etc. Very rarely old books will have tipped-in colored images and those, naturally, I scan in color.

I can't speak to scanning paperbacks (entire books) because I haven't done it. I have heard about duplex scanners (Fujitsu?) but have no personal experience with one. In that case, I'd take a book to Kinko's (or equivalent) and have them cut off the spine for a cleaner, more even cut. (I have scanned pages from paperbacks just fine with the Opticbook, both mass market and trade sized with no problems. The margins seem wide enough.)

OCR has limits with dpi (it doesn't like higher resolutions), so I tend to keep it in a 150-300 dpi range, with 300 being my 'default'. (Images I'll do at a higher res so I can study them close up.)

I tend to scan to TIFF because I prefer having a file I can manipulate if I need to, then transfer the files to my Mac using Bluetooth (just because it's easy; wifi works just as well and is probably faster), then pull into Acrobat 7 on my Mac. (I had used Readiris 9 before and while the OCR was quite good, that version at least had filename length issues on the Mac.)

For the odd bits I can't OCR, I'll enter keywords, etc., so the file will have some searchability. (I use a combo of Devonthink and Spotlight to find information.)

(My most frustrating experience was with an old journal that had been rebound more than once and, consequently, had NO gutter whatsoever. I couldn't even open the book more than a third, so my solution in that case was to read it in via "Naturally Speaking." Yeah, crazy, but I got the needed info. )
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:05 PM   #28
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I should clarify re: the Epson software scanning two pages. The software does one scan, but you can specify 'zones' which are then scanned, in order, to separate files. No second step is needed. It's a very nice feature, imo.

Both the Epson 3200 Perfection Photo scanner and the Opticbook scanner are letter sized. The Epson also came with software to match up smaller scans into larger images (primarily aimed at creating panoramas, etc., for images) but I haven't used it.

One other plus, for me, anyway, of the Opticbook is that it opens from the side (the hinge is along one long side, not the 'top') which makes it MUCH easier to scan books, ime.

I hope I've answered all the questions. If I didn't, it's because I missed them, so please ask again.
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Old 10-15-2006, 06:06 PM   #29
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In past jobs, I've worked with Xerox Docutech and Kodak Lionheart digital printers (basically computer-controlled copier-printers), and smaller digital copiers that create a digital image from original content, and accept digital documents from a disk or from a network. Some of those devices interface with a computer, and can be designed to scan the original into the PC for OCR, reorganization, and saving the digital file for future printing needs.

Occasionally we scanned books for printing, and we had to take them apart to do so. Usually, the only catch was feeding it through the scanner... we had scanners that would automatically feed pages, even duplex on-the-fly, but they didn't always handle odd page sizes (a paperback-sized page would never feed well, too small).

Although I'm sure the equipment could be designed to feed odd-sized papers, I'm also sure that the printer companies were sensitive enough to the desire of publishers to avoid making it easy to copy their books--and their own desire not to be sued--that they essentially locked their scanners into handling 8.5x11-and-up sizes only. (This is the same reason they take steps to avoid your making counterfeit money on your color printer...)

The only thing I've ever found to make the process "easy" was to make it a 2-step process: First, use a standard copier to enlarge the smaller book pages into 8.5x11 (or A4, if you're on the other side of the pond) single-sided pages; Then, feed those letter-sized pages through an auto-feeding scanner for digital files and OCR. The benefits here are that the copier work will be faster and easier than hand-scanning individual pages, and the larger type size of the enlarged copies will OCR easier.
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:28 PM   #30
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Hi guys:

Searching for experiences with Plustex's OpticBook and came across this thread.

Couple of questions and suggestions.

1. What is the scanning speed of OpticBook, using 8-bit greyscale, at 300dpi, 400dpi and 600dpi?

2. Does the manual mention the duty-cycle in terms of scans per day, month or life of machine?

Some suggestions.

1. From my experience with xeroxing books, saves time and easy on the eyes and the cover (no need to close it for every scan) if one uses white paper to cover the area of glass not needed. Use scotch tape and make sure it does not touch the glass - leaves some residue.

2. From reading, seems a lossless format is best for storing images. Apparently with jpeg one loses quality with every save. tiff is widely used, png is also good.

3. For shuffling odd and even pages, one can use rotate and Quite Imposing Plus inside Adobe acrobat. Scan all the even pages and then the odd pages - makes it faster since the book need not be rotated.

Best
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