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Old 09-21-2010, 11:34 AM   #1
feelfine
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Scanner for academic books

Hello,
I have got an Iliad and plan to buy some 9x Serie Pocketbook e-reader. I use my Iliad mostly for recreational reading but I am planning on taking more profesional approach and read on them more books for my studies. I have no problem with getting the books at beginning of semster from the library but I must give them back after 2-3 weeks and later on before the exam there is no chance for getting them from the library. Until now I just copied all of the essential parts so that I could repeat reading it later. I would love to scan those parts and have them in electronic form on my reader. Have you got any experience with scanning technical documents (I study computer science) and reading them. I could spend on a good scanner with good software about 200 - 300 Euro (I live in Germany). I need relatively speedy one, that could scan the books without much correctures afterwards and software that would create one pdf document that is not huge. The creation of small "one pdf" documents is essential as most of the scanners that I see make those huge pdfs for each size separately. I know that is the problem with software and I could get some pricey software for any scanner but I would love the one with good software already on board.
Maybe that is not the best section for this questions, but it is somehow related more with "which one should I buy" then "workshop" part. I would be grateful for any suggestions.
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Old 09-21-2010, 02:28 PM   #2
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Hello

I advise you the Plustek Opticbook 3600 for the scanner and Finereader Pro 10 for the software.
Probably it will get you (quite?) above your budge.

The Opticbook comes with an old version of Finereader that some find enough or that can help you get version 10 as an upgrade cheaper…

Ha… and not having much work done and small PDF files… forget it… even with Finereader sometimes intense proofreading is necessary to get a good, small size pdf.
A half/half solution is to do OCR on the scanned images and save as a PDF, image on top and ocred text under and skip the proof reading part…
Still, even with good compression on the final pdf, expect big files.

One more tip… check this forum because you get lots of posts with similar doubts as yours.

Best regards,
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:16 PM   #3
feelfine
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Thanks for your post. I read some posts about scanners but there was always the discussion about big files that are created at the end that I thought that maybe someone has some solution for me. I saw some documents on net that are scanned 500 pages + books and they are not bigger than 20 MB. How does it work with those ? What does one need to get results like that ? And one question more - what do you understand under big documents ? Opticbook 3600 is not that expensive and with finereader is just about my budget.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:55 PM   #4
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Hello (again)

The thing with size and speed of reading pdf scanned files in a eBook reader has to do with: resolution of the scanning, if it has been done in black and white, grey or colour, and if one does do ocr on it or not and if so if the resulting pdf file is a text and images only file or an images with text under or over it file.

Now let’s say you scan a A4 text page in black and white, 300 dpi, the resulting tiff file with lossless compression should be around 1 Mbyte in size and the resulting image pdf file should be in the best lossless compression on acrobat 9 something less than 100 Kbytes. Multiply this by 100 pages and let some 10 to 15 increase on compression from the “together” of the individual pages in the final unique pdf one.

Then think on a full colour A4 page, still at 300 dpi, the resulting file tiff file is around 20 times bigger (20 Megs), then interpolate the rest.
(btw: grey sits around 1/3 in size, or around 6 to 8 Mbyte in size…)

So…

Get some 10 to 20 pages of what you think is a book that represents 80% of the ones you will want to get in your eBook reader…
Decide if it can be done in black and white - you will be wanting to do it that way as long as you can - , scan it and convert it to pdf with the software you have available now and with the best lossless compression you manage (never let it go below 300 dpi in black and white even if it lets you get smaller files, and 200 dpi in colour or grey).
Put it in your actual eBook reader and test it - the legibility, the speed of turning pages…

You do know now what is big or not and being so if it works or not with your eBook reader in a way you fell (or not) comfortable.

Hope I managed to help.

Best regards,
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:24 AM   #5
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if you have a DSLR or can borrow one when needed maybe a nice used copy stand with a nice flat-field lense mounted to your camera is a better option and faster. You can shoot RAW, batch adjust the white balance, sharpen and correct any perspective issues then batch convert to TIFF for your OCR software to grind on...then the fun begins in cleaning up the text...and the issue of graphic content in your images. Or you can just create a set of images and print to a PDF which won't be searchable but will maybe be enough.

BTW, flat field lenses are designed for shooting 2D stuff like books, paintings and such and are pretty much distortion free in their design...the copy stand holds the camera and lens in the same position and you just put the book or pages you are copying on the tray of the stand which is made so you put everything in the same position so after the first page is setup it's just a boat race to get it done...it's a very, very fast process for books, especially when compared to consumer grade scanners. You can even get by with a point and shoot digital camera is it has a good macro mode, some can even shoot RAW or TIFF natively. I would try and use DNG format for RAW not because it's better but more software reads that format compared to some RAW formats out there.

While I would use Lightroom to do the file adjusting and editing in batches in preparation for the OCR conversion, Photoshop can create PDF files in case you did not know. I've only tried it a few times and obviously did not really have much of a clue if you look at the results, but it worked well enough for my needs.

I just mention this to point out using a slow scanner is not the only, or maybe not always the best option/method...
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Old 09-26-2010, 11:18 AM   #6
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You might like to have a look at http://www.diybookscanner.org/ where they discuss fast homemade bookscanners made using digital cameras.
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:19 PM   #7
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Unless you can cut apart the books (which you can't if getting them from the library), and scan the pages with a fast ADF (Automatic Document Feed) scanner, you will spend quite a bit of time just scanning the books. The big bugaboo, however, is what to do with the scans.

If you have a way of reading the scans full sized (for example, a large reader or a large screen laptop or desktop computer), you could skip OCR and just keep the scans as an image only PDF (you can use OCR to make them searchable). With most e-book readers, however, the pages will be too small to read easily unless you read from a window in landscape. OCR will be needed to convert your scans to reflowable text that can be enlarged at will and that will require a huge amount of time to edit the scanning errors. Images often do not translate well to an e-book format and may wind up too small to read. Charts will get corrupted unless treated like images (more work to do).

This doesn't mean it can't be done but present e-reader technology makes it impractical to do for an e-reader without compromises you may be unable to accept. I would suggest full page scans put into a searchable image only PDF (Adobe Acrobat Standard would be best suited for this) and read them using a laptop or desktop computer screen and a standard PDF viewer (such as Acrobat Reader, Foxit Reader, etc.). You might get away with a large tablet.
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