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Old 07-13-2008, 01:18 PM   #1
Joshua
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Help needed moving pBooks to PDFs (jpg) + Snapter Review

Hello everyone,

A newb here, overwhelmed with the task of migrating some books to PDF. I found mobileread through some links about the Opticbook 3600 and Atiz's Snapter software and got lost in the v-cradle threads 0_o The number of book readers (I am using a laptop / Acrobat reader) and acronymns has me a little lost

Here is my "agenda" and hopefully someone else has found a solution for my problem and won't mind spending a minute dropping me a link or two

Goal:

=> Capture the pages of my books (either with a digital camera or scanner; camera is faster)

=> Split, crop the pages

=> Collate them in the right order and save them as a single PDF file (eBook)

=> Happily read my books on my PC, using Zotero (www.zotero.org) to document my notes as I work on my thesis

Snapter targeted my exact needs and almost worked perfectly, but the flaws I found won't cut it right now. I put my "feedback" I sent Atiz below. Anyhow, I believe I can:

* Take pictures of my books (digicam, glass over book) for adequate quality

* Using Fireworks I can crop my pictures and batch convert them

So my big QUESTIONS:


(1) Is there Software to merge 200-400 jpgs into a single PDF file. PDFRead 1.8.2 sounded perfect but it doesn't say it outputs to PDF


(2) Is there a better solution for what I am trying to do that I have overlooked? I am a student on a budget. The Opticbook 360 was a little too expensive and the driver issues people had and slow speed turned me off. I cannot afford a $300 paperweight! $49 for Snapter was a fair price as it did everything from start to finish.


And two bonus questions:


(3) Is there a mobile reader that will display graphic based PDFs? If I am going to go to the work of converting my books to PDFs, is there a mobile reader that will work ok with PDFs of books that are scanned graphics?


(4) Does the commercial Adobe Acrobat mimic Google Books and Amazon in allowing you to OCR a book "in the background" and read the graphic but search the hidden text? I ask because my books have a lot of mixed languages (theology) and I cannot have errors via OCR. But being able to search on an as needed basis would be cool.


Thanks for everyone's time Maybe someone else who has had the same hurdles has a far better solution for me!

Joshua
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Old 07-13-2008, 01:21 PM   #2
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Finally, my Snapter feedback/review in case others use mobileread to look for reviews. I know this is one way I found this forum and the more relevant content that can help others the better. If I knew the handles issues and collation issues with Snapter I would have saved myself a couple of weekends testing the software. Of course, on the positive, as they improve the application and fix the below issues it would be *perfect* for what I was doing as I don't need to OCR my books. So I am still holding out hope for them, especially as their support was fairly responsive to my first request.

Quote:
Dear Atiz/Snapter,

First, I would like to thank you for addressing growing market with innovative tools that are useful, especially for students. As an off campus student getting access to difficult to obtain material at University can be trying at times and Snapter, in this regards, is a blessing. Further, for those of us using tools like Zotero and going a paperless approach the combination of digital copies of our books with documentation programs, like Zotero, is a big boost to productivity.

Further, making Snapter available as a fully functional trial version for users to test has many positives that Atiz should be commended for. Kudos!

Also of note is Snapter's staff has been prompt in responding to my questions! This is very encouraging and motivated me to give some feedback that may be useful in the development of your neat application.

Finally, the tutorial with Do's and Don'ts is especially helpful. Clearly showing (a) a book must be completely in the frame (b) the book must have a solid background behind it (c) your fingers cannot be at the center/spine area of the book, and so forth make getting Snapter up and going a lot quicker.

I have yet to purchase Snapter and I am currently "on the fence" about the direction I will be going to solve my ebook problem. Snapter seems to focus on my specific problem and the idea is great, but the below issues are significant for my use. I wanted to offer up some constructive criticisms (along with the above praise and enthusiasm for work) about your near-amazing product, Snapter, in the hope my comments can be helpful in your future software development.

Here are some of the problems I faced while using Snapter over the last 2 weekends of testing.


#1 * "Handles" are essentially useless on pages with "wonky" edge detection.

When Snapter cannot detect the edges of a book properly you can often move the handles a small bit to get it right. But when the lines cross over (which I am experiencing quite often) there is no "fixing" the photo because Snapter won't allow two "Handles" to cross paths once Snapter has crossed them during detection. So if an upper "Handle" is down and the lower "Handle" up, if you try to uncross them the result is Snapter "swaps" the handles you're dragging making it **impossible** to fix the page. This is a SERIOUS flaw.

Solution: More robust "Handle" control; for pages Snapter cannot handle allow complete "manual Handle placement" or the like.


#2 * Inability to re-order processed pages (that is pages snapped out of order or added to your processing list cannot be put in the right place).

This is a huge issue for three common scenarios.

In the first case, if I happen to skip a page while photographing my book I cannot go back, take the picture of the missing page, process it, and stick it in the correct place in my finished PDF.

In the second case, if a picture happens to be too blurry and unreadable I cannot recapture the page and put it into the correct place.

In the third case if Snapter cannot interpret a page correctly (handles being uncontrollable as in #1 or human error like taking the picture incorrectly) you cannot recapture your picture, reprocess it, and insert it in the processed que in the correct place for export to PDF.

Solution: Allow users to easy move pages in the "Input" and "Processed" ques up and down.


#3 * Inability to place fingers near the spine of the book.

This is a huge problem for paperbacks as they are difficult to keep open. When taking a photo you only have one hand so a two handed approach isn't possible. On tighter bound books this issue makes keeping a book open nearly impossible. I tried using glass to hold down the book--which gave excellent photograph quality once I got it setup to have no glare from the lights--but Snapter could only resolve about 50% of photos taken with glass over the book.

Solution: Evolve your algorithm so fingers can be used near the spine.

/OR/

Making Snapter friendlier to photos with glass overlaid on the book (minimally through improved handle control--if the handle control was better I would opt for this option, purchase Snapter, and use glass and be on my merry way!!).


#4 * 14001 error.

I am still in the process of getting Snapter to work on my faster PC (laptop, Vista). I just noticed Snapter has a sticky thread on this issue on some steps to resolve this issue. It is worth noting it took me a week to get Snapter to work right on my modest XP system (P4 2.8GHz, 1GB DDR400) as it froze frequently. The issue I was encountering was whenever a photo was opened/processed in Snapter my system was reading my DVD drive. After closing all unnecessary applications, anti-virus, browser windows, etc Snapter worked fine and at a modest pace. Some FYI for others of you who may be having some problems.


My current goals are pretty simple:

=> Capture the pages of my books (either with a digital camera or scanner; camera is faster)

=> Split, crop the pages

=> Collate them in the right order and save them as a single PDF file (eBook)


Snapter is on the brink of being a revolutionary product to do the above quickly. The first two issues (poor handle manipulation control and the ability to add, re-order processed pages) I have yet to find suitable workarounds. Not being able to hold the spine down and/or use glass to hold down the book (which would work fine with better handle control) poses significant hurdles for my personal use of the program. Based on the responsiveness I have seen from Snapter on other forums, blogs, etc and how they continue to develop and evolve their product I have a feeling that these issues are just rough spots that you guys will eventually overcome.

And when you do I think Snapter will play an important role for many of us, especially students, going a paperless route with all the benefits. Until then I will keep an eye on Snapter. Thanks for your time Now I need to get back to preparing for Fall Semester.

Joshua

Ps- I am using Snapter Ice 2 r1.
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
....

(1) Is there Software to merge 200-400 jpgs into a single PDF file. PDFRead 1.8.2 sounded perfect but it doesn't say it outputs to PDF


(2) Is there a better solution for what I am trying to do that I have overlooked? I am a student on a budget. The Opticbook 360 was a little too expensive and the driver issues people had and slow speed turned me off. I cannot afford a $300 paperweight! $49 for Snapter was a fair price as it did everything from start to finish.


And two bonus questions:


(3) Is there a mobile reader that will display graphic based PDFs? If I am going to go to the work of converting my books to PDFs, is there a mobile reader that will work ok with PDFs of books that are scanned graphics?


(4) Does the commercial Adobe Acrobat mimic Google Books and Amazon in allowing you to OCR a book "in the background" and read the graphic but search the hidden text? I ask because my books have a lot of mixed languages (theology) and I cannot have errors via OCR. But being able to search on an as needed basis would be cool.


Thanks for everyone's time Maybe someone else who has had the same hurdles has a far better solution for me!

Joshua
(1) Fast Stone Viewer. It's free, and it does an excellent job.
(2) Maybe you can script Gimp and save those 49, also...
(3) Archos does, and maybe some linux-based devices also. Every e-ink reader will, but they're definitely out of budget.
(4) I don't know, sorry.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for the links Format C! The FastStone Image Viewer is simple to use and pretty quick!

Now to fiddle with a script or whatnot to autocrop my pictures. I noticed my scanners AbbyFineReader software can "find" the text outlines just fine, I wounder if there is a similar tool that can find the text area and then crop from there. I will have to take a look.

Thanks again!!
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:39 PM   #5
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Does your scanner have a page feeder on it? I'm thinking of slicing off the binding of my pbooks and feeding them through to make PDF's of the books. Would certainly clear off a lot of bookshelves, and I could save them to CD-ROM's and store all of them in one nice album.
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
(1) Is there Software to merge 200-400 jpgs into a single PDF file. PDFRead 1.8.2 sounded perfect but it doesn't say it outputs to PDF


(2) Is there a better solution for what I am trying to do that I have overlooked?
If you number the page in the sequence in which they should be read, you can use some pdf printing software like CutePDF. You would select the range of files and "print" them as a pdf. See this post for a bit more information and links.

As for something simpler, with the time and effort you'll be going through, it might be easier to purchase the books in eBook format (depending on what type of books they are). 400 jpgs or 400 pages seems like too much work (I'm lazy, so don't mind me ).
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:01 PM   #7
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My scanner doesn't have a feeder, although I am looking to replace my AIO (constant inkjet drying issues). Of course some of my books are very expensive and I would prefer NOT to cut them up! I find studying at the PC easier, though, especially with Zotero for note taking. Being able to take my notes with me, as well as keep them all in one place (and add to them wherever I am reading) is a plus.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
As for something simpler, with the time and effort you'll be going through, it might be easier to purchase the books in eBook format (depending on what type of books they are). 400 jpgs or 400 pages seems like too much work (I'm lazy, so don't mind me ).
The problem is I own the books already and most of the new ones I am buying don't come in an eBook format. Essentially most of them are theology textbooks, some being difficult to obtain and expensive. A decent method for scanning would also be helpful for when I need to reference a chapter from a library book. Sure, a handful of photocopies pages works, but have them digitally is better, especially as I can annotate them in Zotero and get correct bibliographic info when I cite it.

Alas, in a perfect world, I would probably trade all my pBooks for eBooks though. A lot of my software is making some of my reference works redundant and I find the digital versions better as they are tied closely to the software.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:07 PM   #9
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Oh sure, some of my "nicer looking" hardbound books will remain unmolested, but I have a long history of mutilating paperbacks. My hands hurt to hold heavy books for more than just a couple of minutes, so I've always split them into 3 or 4 pieces of a more manageable size. Makes friends and co-workers thing I'm a book abuser when I share out a raggedy mess, all wrapped around with a rubber band to keep it together. Haven't murdered any books since getting my EB11-50!

(OK, I've murdered a few trying out various formatting things, but they are easy to delete and start over again.....)
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:23 PM   #10
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DixieGal... please stay away from my books! :P
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:03 PM   #11
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No promises! I especially remember handing a mess of Pillars of the Earth over to a co-worker. You would've thought I'd mutilated the Bible from the flak she gave me! My professors were always disturbed that I would cut out pics and paragraphs of textbooks. Would tape them to cards and viola! Instant flash cards.
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