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Software To Flatten a Photographed Book?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the shadows-in-the-gutter dept.

Input Devices 172

davidy writes "I have photographed some pages of a book for reading on my PDA. This is much faster than scanning and I don't have to carry the heavy books. However, the photographed books are not as nice: curved, skewed, and shadowed, as opposed to the much flatter, cleaner scanned books. I have searched for software that can flatten the pages for better reading on the PDA. So far I have come across Unpaper and Scan Tailor. Unpaper doesn't seem to have a windows GUI, and Scan Tailor doesn't unskew well. I remember reading about Google's technique of converting books to e-books with a camera and a laser overlay. Is there any home user software that can do a similar job without the need for a laser overlay or other sophisticated (and patented) technology?"

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172 comments

Snapter (4, Informative)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559045)

Snapter [atiz.com] is a bit cumbersome but that's what it does.

Re:Snapter (2, Informative)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559403)

Okay, as per my previous post, I'm trying Snapter. It might have crashed, for alll I know. I'm at 3 bars (out of about 20) on the left side of the first page, and one processor is pegged. We'll see if it comes out.

Re:Snapter (3, Informative)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559831)

restarted. 30 minutes later, it threw a fatal exception.

My short review: FAIL.

Try a heavy piece of non-glare glass (2, Insightful)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559755)

Try a heavy piece of non-glare glass

Re:Try a heavy piece of non-glare glass (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29561165)

or try a flatbed scanner instead of a camera

Re:Snapter (1)

Heymoe (774463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29561071)

Narrowly defined, Snapter works as advertised. It really does take the warp out of images, and it will also take out fingers on the sides if you need to hold the book open while photographing. The pdf files it saves are just images, not OCR'd text. That's a big drawback.

sooo.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559053)

after photographing your book you have these huge image files that are barely readable, and now you want to spend MORE time trying to make em legible, wouldn`t it just be faster to scan em?, after OCR they would be much smaller and you could edit em/annotate to your hearts delight too.

seems like you made a problem looking for a solution rather than just scanning em in the first place

Re:sooo.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559119)

Aye, this Ask Slashdot sounds more like "Doctor, it hurts whenever I do this." The traditional response to such nonsense is, "well, then don't do that!"

Next question?

No it wouldn't be faster (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559137)

Seriously, have you ever compared the time photographing a book vs. scanning it? The fastest scanners run like photocopiers. With a book, all you need is to set up a decent or ghetto rig for the camera and turn the pages. Until now, I've been shooting with a DSLR at the same lighting/camera settings for each shot, and applying a batch transform process followed by a universal levels setting, finishing up with a PDF assembly. But I'll report back on how Snapter works on the same files.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559307)

Seriously, have you ever compared the time photographing a book vs. scanning it? The fastest scanners run like photocopiers. With a book, all you need is to set up a decent or ghetto rig for the camera and turn the pages. Until now, I've been shooting with a DSLR at the same lighting/camera settings for each shot, and applying a batch transform process followed by a universal levels setting, finishing up with a PDF assembly. But I'll report back on how Snapter works on the same files.

Exactly, the document scanners used in libraries and archives are pretty much high resolution cameras on an adjustable stand. They don't work like flatbed desktop scanners where you have to squash the book flat on a plate of glass. As a result they are much faster, easier on the books and you get better quality scans for OCR processing.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559377)

Flat bed scanners - well slow. So slow it's not even worth bothering with

Orbital/Planetary scanners - much faster, essentially the same as your DSLR hanging above the page. Less than a second for a 'scan', rate limited by speed of turning the pages. A 5 secs to turn an scan that's 12 images a min or 720 an hour.

What the GP was talking about: Duplex feeder scanners. If you can cut the spine of the book and feed in into one of these then your laughing. Some of them will do 2-300 full colour pages a minute with no sweat. That's 10,000 scans per hour..... Orders of magnitude faster.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559431)

Yeah. Totally sweet. We have tons of them where I work too. Only thing is, the IT department decided that scanning to PDF would be impossible to bill and invite copyright abuse, so they disabled any action that didn't result directly in printing to paper.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559737)

sounds like its time to find a place where the legal department doesn't run IT?

when you leave tell them their tools are "defective by design" and you won't support them.

Using a camera would be MUCH better. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560245)

Also, those scanners are VERY expensive. Using a camera would be MUCH better, if the problems can be solved. It doesn't matter how big the camera images are, since the ABBYY FineReader [abbyy.com] PDF-making software we use OCRs the image and makes searchable PDFs.

The Fujitsu fi-6230 Sheet-Fed and Flatbed Scanner [fujitsu.com] gets good reviews and the flatbed scanner is fast, but it costs $1,200, and the sheet-fed and flatbed scanners are weirdly and unnecessarily connected.

Less expensive Fujitsu scanners lack TWAIN or ISIS driver support. Fujitsu uses proprietary drivers for the less expensive scanners, meaning that it can make them obsolete for some future operating system merely by not providing drivers.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner [fujitsu.com] is excellent for what it does, we have one, but it doesn't do books, of course.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560119)

Flat bed scanners - well slow.

AFAIK "flat bed scanner" simply means a scanner where you place the item to be scanned on a flat plane of glass to be scanned. The technology that actually does the scanning is irrelevant.

In which case, the Xerox printer/scanner in my office does flat bed scanning in the blink of an eye. I ran it with the lid up once to prove to myself it wasn't just a camera - and sure enough a sensor bar whips across the page.

Of course, it's not as practical for scanning bound books as the Google solution.

Re:No it wouldn't be faster (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560259)

Good point.

I suspect that Xerox machine you talk of will actually be moving just a light/mirror which is reflecting into a camera. (or possibly a CCD arrangement, but usually they are in cheaper machines) But either way scanning a book on a 'flatbed' whereby the book has to be placed face down is a major chore. turning the page means lifting the book, turning the page, then turning the book back over and repositioning it etc etc. Even if the scan takes a blink all that manual work will make it tedious at best.

Re:sooo.... (1)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559183)

For one book, this kind of thinking makes sense. If this is a regularly occurring issue, it'd make sense to find a faster way then a flatbed scanner to get through it. I have no idea how feasible this is in real life. Working data entry we'd usually chop the back and put them in a sheet feed, but then you have a destroyed book and also sheet feed scanners aren't exactly commonplace. It's pretty interesting that there are at least some solutions around, I may just be too out of the loop to realize how much things have advanced.

Re:sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559845)

we'd usually chop the back and put them in a sheet feed

Exactly.

you have a destroyed book

Meh. You can always punch a hole and bind 'em together for future use. For non-rare books, it's a small cost and you haven't really destroyed much. Unless you're scanning library books, this is the way to go.

sheet feed scanners aren't exactly commonplace

They're not exactly expensive these days. Maybe $250.

Re:sooo.... (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559247)

He can easily get his tiny 10 megapixels camera into the book store, but he would be stopped immediately if he tried to bring his scanner instead.

Re:sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559559)

I've taken my camera into remote parts of the library to copy things (and it was legal to do so). A few minutes of photography got me a half-dozen articles which took several days to wade through and analyze.

How about a $300 home-built scanner? (5, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559637)

Some guy posted a great instructables [instructables.com] on building your own high speed book scanner [instructables.com] , purposely designed to rapidly photograph book pages without curves. He even includes a software stream that OCRs the contents and sticks them into PDFs.

It's been quite popular -- so much so that he's created an online forum at http://www.diybookscanner.org/ [diybookscanner.org] dedicated to discussions from DIY book scanners all over the place, where they talk about builds, parts, and software.

I've been very tempted to build one myself just to avoid carrying heavy books around in my backpack.

Re:sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560317)

Huge images that are barely readable? You need a camera with a higher resolution. One of my aging cameras has better vision than the human eye, and I can photograph two pages and later zoom in enough to see the dots in non-glossy photos.

Re:sooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560519)

No. Take the picture, image correct, OCR. *Much* faster than scanning/OCR. Scanning is mechanical. A picture is high-enough res and an order of magnitude or two faster.

Anonymous Coward (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559071)

Get a thick, heavy piece of glass and lay it atop the pages to flatten them out before you photograph them. Use ambient light and avoid the flash.

Re:Anonymous Coward (3, Informative)

polymeris (902231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559215)

Also use a zoom lens and take the shot from as far as possible, to reduce curvature. The longer the focal distance, the flatter the picture will appear.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

bazim2 (625704) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559383)

Many zoom lenses curve the field the opposite way when zoomed all the way in. Most lenses have barrel distortion when zoomed out and pincushion distortion when zoomed in. There'll probably be somewhere between where the field is flat. A few experimental shots of a grid will quickly find this out. Here's some examples from SLR lens reviews: http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/426-canon_28300_3556is_5d?start=1 [photozone.de] http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/295-tamron-af-24-135mm-f35-56-ad-aspherical-if-sp-lab-test-report--review?start=1 [photozone.de] (there's many more on that site) Smaller compact cameras lenses often show hugely higher field distortion than decent SLR lenses.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560097)

That's not what polymeris is getting at. Wide angle lenses create strong perspective foreshortening. That's why there is a sweet spot for portrait photography: too wide makes noses look big, too long leaves no perspective. Lens distortion is easily removed because it is inherent to the lens, so you only need to calibrate once and can use the profile for all pictures shot at the same focal length. Perspective distortion depends on the scene, so there is no "calibrate once, correct all" option without creating a repeatable setup.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559457)

Using a zoom also allows you to use a flash. Flashing from too close creates less even illumination and, on the cameras I've tried, overexposure.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560051)

Better yet, avoid zoom lenses and get a dedicated macro lens. Nearly every camera manufacturer makes at least one macro lens, and often two or three of different focal lengths. For books, a ~100mm macro works quite reasonably.

The biggest problem is that a macro lens can be somewhat on the expensive side. If you want to stay cheap, Cosina makes a 100mm f/3.5 macro that looks and feels cheap, but has quite decent quality optics. This is widely available under various other names (Promaster, Quantaray, etc.) In fact, nearly any current, off-brand, 100mm f/3.5 macro lens is likely to be made by Cosina.

Compared to zooms, dedicated macro lenses are nearly always sharper, and (particularly) have extremely low distortion. FWIW, most of them work pretty decently as portrait lenses too.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560583)

If you're doing fixed height/lighting camera photography, you might as well just buy a cheapo screw mount macro lens + screw mount adapter.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560155)

Barrel distortion can be easily fixed in photoshop, and once you get the right settings for your first pic, you can batch process the rest of them.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560573)

Also use a zoom lens and take the shot from as far as possible, to reduce curvature. The longer the focal distance, the flatter the picture will appear.

I'm sure you mean a tele lens. Zoom just means variable focal length. and could even a wide angle one.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559331)

It doesn't have to be glass. Target stores have these nice plexiglass photo boxes. An advantage of them over glass is that the edge of the box helps hold the opposing page up.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559397)

Just rip the book's spine off. At this point, it's probably easier and faster to learn how to re-sew a book than to do all the software voodoo (unskewing, OCR) to get a somewhat usable ebook.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559731)

Yeah, a dumb fucking computer nerd thinks software is the best solution for every fucking problem. sheesh.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560003)

If money isn't an issue and you can rip the book apart, the scansnap series of scanner is nice and fast. Just drop in 50 sheets at a time, and, depending on the settings, a 500 page book will be scanned in under 20 minutes. Pages stay flat, and you'll have an automatic PDF too - no conversion necessary except probably for small devices (iPhone).

I tend to think photographing pages is slow, require either an expensive set-up, or you just get half-assed results that will drive you nuts when you actually sit down and read it.

Contact Scan Tailor Author? (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559157)

At version 0.9.6, perhaps Scan Tailor is 96% of what you want and it's F/OSS. If you *politely* contact the author(s) and lay out your concerns perhaps you can get what you need AND help make a project better. Worth a try.

Re:Contact Scan Tailor Author? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559401)

Whoo, Mod +1 Funny!

Any time I've ever done that I've either gotten crickets or flames.

Re:Contact Scan Tailor Author? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559517)

From the screens on the site it looks like the author does not value Windows very much (the screens are done on Linux).

If you want him to do development for the Windows platform, then you will have to ask nicely with some motivational argument (ask him how much he wants for making it work on the Windows platform, pay half in advance).

Re:Contact Scan Tailor Author? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560063)

Or, you know, if you find that there is a Linux only app that is exactly what you're looking for, you could just use Linux for it. Many of us are stuck with a Windows box, partition, or VM for the same reason. With Linux you can even run it off a CD or USB drive.

Re:Contact Scan Tailor Author? (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560131)

The home page says there is both a Windows and Linux version. Just because the screenshots are Linux doesn't mean the author doesn't value Windows; they have to have been made on one platform or the other, whoever made them happens to have done them in Linux.

If the Windows version was broken for some reason it still might be possible to build the Linux version under Cygwin.

You need the proper kit (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559161)

There are perfectly good machines that will do this for you.

They have suction systems to turn the pages of the book, and hold the book partially open so that the pages are more or less flat. There's one camera for each page, and the software that comes with the system deals with the curving, and obviously gets the lighting right to avoid shadowing etc.

OK, so maybe these machines aren't exactly cheap ... ... but at least one publisher is using them to photograph books (ones that are out of copyright, obviously) and put them into a print-on-demand programme. The deal is that if you suggest a book to the publisher, and they take you up on your suggestion, you get a free copy.

Re:You need the proper kit (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559333)

software that comes with the system deals with the curving

This is what the OP is asking about. Plenty of these systems ship with the combined hardware/software pack and cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

It sounds like the OP has taken a few shots of a handy book maybe at a friends house or whatever and would like to just 'sort' them out before finally archiving them on to his system. Kind of like how some people like to tag all the MP3s before 'committing' them to their system. Free, and FOSS options for this type of software are limited, I would be interested in some kind of thing as well.

And you need a GUI why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559169)

Unpaper is great!

I am sure that someone could easily convert it into a web application for all of the windoze software jockey noobs that cannot type a command. Why do all these Windoze users need a GUI to do anything at all? It is really sad that Windows software jockeys cannot type a simple command these days.

Slightly OT but but how many windoze users do know how to type "ipconfig /all", "ipconfig /release", "ipconfig /renew" to deal with IP address problems? Those are entered from the command line and yet no Windows user complains about having to type them out and that there is no GUI available.

Now get off my lawn....

Re:And you need a GUI why? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559219)

Command line!, it looks like you revel in illegal activities...

Re:And you need a GUI why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559555)

What is even sadder is that in 2009, you HAVE to resort to the CLI for anything if you prefer not to. CLI is often faster, granted. I develop under linux every day and could not imagine not having a CLI, but if I prefer not to type to run a program dealing with images, I should not need to. I would expect typing for a GUI, but I should not have to type to resize and distort images. The fact that you complain about the windows jockeys who want the GUI is exactly the reason Linux is an OS for hobbyists, and not a mainstream desktop alternative.

Re:And you need a GUI why? (1)

DragonMantis (1327751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559583)

I happen to like Linux, but GUI's are convenient -- particularly for images, as you said. Personally, I'd like it if a few more of the Windows configs were easily editable plain text. But you are also right, to *need* to use a text edit or a command line is different than choosing to do so.

Re:And you need a GUI why? (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560175)

I don't know; for many purposes ImageMagick is perfect for my needs. Unlike the GIMP (as of 2.6.7), it supports 16-bit channels in images, which are useful for grayscale work on my side (256 grays is too limiting). It's also a lot faster for doing work over a lot of images in sequence.

Allow me to extract the informative part of this.. (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559613)

Unpaper may work for you if you're not afraid to deal with a CLI.

There's no harm in giving it a look. Assuming it's properly designed I can see it being quite elegant.

Rather than photograph or scan each page... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559175)

Cut the binding off and run it through a duplex scanner with a document feeder.

ahhh - book scanning (3, Informative)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559205)

As with most scanning and other things, you can save your self immense amounts of hassle time and money later, by spending a fraction of that time up front sorting out the 'input'. A bit of glass over the book, using a scanner, or even getting a friend to hold a book will mean that your source image will be much better to start with.

Not everyone has 5-10mm thick peices of book sized glass lying around and it can be hard to take that sort of thing about the place in case of requiring to photo a book.

There is software called Book restorer that does this removes curves 'geometrical correction' etc but it's pricy.

i've tried un paper and it's pretty decent for what it does but it does have some limitations and it's not the most convenient to use.

Deskewing, cropping, filling, etc etc are all easily done and I've even written imagemagick batch scripts in windows to do these things. The major trick is the curve removal.

There's various ways you can determine the curve from a scanned image. If you have the edge of the page, you can calculate the movement required to straighten that, and then apply it to the whole image. You can use text based curve removal, similar to well known deskew algorithms for text, but takes into account different parts of the text may be 'more' skewed. i.e. rather than a rotational deskew a 'sliced' deskew. This needs to be done from the top to the middle and the bottom to the middle.

If you have a good 'shape' of the page, and know the true size of the page, you can use a kind of morph operator to morph the corners back to th eright position and hope the image follows.

Using a Greyscale/colour source will work better than a black and white source image in general.

the other option is if the scanned / photoed page is actually of reasonaly good quality but if just a bit squint, then OCR it to a PDF and generate a new document using the OCR text, which will be pin sharp accurate, compress a lot better and be easier to use, although may not be ideal if there are too many errors.

Re:ahhh - book scanning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559271)

Re:ahhh - book scanning (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559763)

Yup. They want an email address just to transmit a PDF info sheet (I'd apologize now to the sysadmin at mailer-daemon.styx.hel, but I have a funny feeling it's not going to help me much in the long run), and don't give the price anywhere = either $2k or (more likely) the mission-critical purchase price of $50-100k.

Re:ahhh - book scanning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560693)

$2k is awful cheap for an "if you have to ask..." price. In the cases I have asked the price has always been at least $10k for the most basic version. It was a different niche market, though.

Some cheap cameras can do it (1)

has2k1 (787264) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559257)

I borrowed a simple 5 Mega Pixel camera from a friend 3 years ago and it had a built-in flat picture taking mode. It was one of the common brands probably a cybershot (though not really sure).

Re:Some cheap cameras can do it (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560639)

That's a Nikon CoolPix 5200. p38 in the manual.
"Scene Mode" "Copy"

"Copy provides clear pictures of text or drawings on a white
board or in printed matter such as a business card."

"Colored text and drawings may not show up well in the final picture"

a nifty new program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559259)

There's this nifty new program that just came out that's called Photography Shoppe. It lets you adjust the skew on images, slong with a whole bunch of other things. It's one to watch out for. It'll be really popular some day!

Re:a nifty new program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559789)

Sounds great. One second per page to photograph, one minute to edit. I know an even better way: Print out the photographed pages, bend them until the image looks flat and photograph them again.

Re:a nifty new program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559915)

Guess you aren't aware that many actions can be scripted. Quickly click and define the page borders, run action to fix.

Re:a nifty new program (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560211)

Speaking of which, how do you automate a task in GIMP? In Photoshop it's dead easy: just hit record, type in a name, and you're off.

Re:a nifty new program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29560423)

You have to write it in Script-Fu. Basically you need to learn a mini programming language to get it to work. Fine if you're a programmer. Not good if you're a graphics person. But don't expect them to ever change that.

Viewing images on iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559265)

I scanned my books in so I did not have the page curve problem of davidy, but when I loaded the images up through iPhoto to my iPod they were compressed further and unreadable.
Anyone have any suggestions on what I did wrong?
Sorry for the question hijack, thanks!

Re:Viewing images on iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559663)

Don't use iShit. (bad experience with iunes wiping one of my ipods and automatically starting to convert my files into m4a without asking)

For more helpful advice: I would look at the settings, to try and turn off auto compression, i would hope it is in there, and then try again. Unless it compressed the originals, then you are out of luck, and have to scan them in again.

Re:Viewing images on iPod Touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559691)

You did wrong when you put them in the iPod, apparently. I'm not familiar with iPhoto, but I suspect that it knew the destination was an iPod so it resized the images for an iPod's screen. Hijacking back to the original topic: Perl seems able to do anything; maybe there's a Windows GUI interface which can be used as a front end for a command line tool.

Look at some Google books (3, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559267)

I remember reading about Google's technique of converting books to e-books

My suggestion is that you look at some of the Google books that are on-line. I have, and they show the problems that you mention and more, curved pages, dark areas, and even text that is distorted and harder to read than most captchas. Whatever you have read (and yea, I remember reading it too), it doesn't seem to actually be viable in practice. Sure, photographs are easier than scanning, particularly if you do it fast and cheap, but the result is poorer. If you can scan the book without damaging them I suggest you go back and do that.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559309)

Learn to use the command line.

Depending on the book of course... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559353)

Cut the spine off and run the pages through a scanner's page feeder... OCR if desired, then enjoy...

I'm surprised that Google doesn't do this, it would be SO much faster than scanning each page one at a time.

Another option, see if Amazon sells the book in digital format. Sometimes a few bucks saves a world of headache.

Now if these are expensive textbooks or reference books, or don't belong to you, the above may not apply, just my first thought on the subject.

Re:Depending on the book of course... (1)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559379)

I'm surprised that Google doesn't do this, it would be SO much faster than scanning each page one at a time.

Except that they use high-quality book scanners that can go through a hundred pages in a few seconds flat, and it would cost a fortune for them to do it this way, and no libraries would let them touch any archival materials which is half the point.

Re:Depending on the book of course... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559477)

Cut the spine off and run the pages through a scanner's page feeder... OCR if desired, then enjoy...

I'm surprised that Google doesn't do this, it would be SO much faster than scanning each page one at a time.


Yeah, I don't see why they don't just slice the spine off that one-of-a-kind 16th century book so they can scan it in. That's such an easier way to do it. And I have NO idea why a library would have an issue with that.



Are people around here really this dumb?

Re:Depending on the book of course... (1)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559885)

Cut the spine off and run the pages through a scanner's page feeder... OCR if desired, then enjoy... I'm surprised that Google doesn't do this, it would be SO much faster than scanning each page one at a time.

You just described a major plot point in Vernor Vinge's book "Rainbows End" except that instead of cutting off the spine they actually used paper shredders to cut up the books and then used computers to put the books back together. It was incredibly fast (no need to cut spines and feed pages, just shred the book and suck the results in through a hose and let the computer scan the particles as they fly past.

The downside was that a small subset of people wanted physical books to stay around and were willing to perform sabotage where necessary in order to prevent the destruction of the books.

If google did this they might just have to face a cadre of dangerous rogue librarians!

Casio Exilim digital cameras built-in mode (3, Interesting)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559387)

Digital cameras from Casio (Exilim serie) have a dedicated to take picture of sheets of paper, whiteboards and visit cards. It detects the content boundaries, crops and unskew it. You could also save time (and money since time = money) by looking for and buying the electronic version of the book you want to read.

Use a homemade book scanner. (4, Informative)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559391)

If you have ~$300 to drop on the project, Make has plans for a nice book scanner: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/04/how-to_book_scanner_on_the_cheap.html [makezine.com] It seems to hold the pages at an angle so there's little-to-no distortion on the page.

Why Bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559405)

By the time you've spend all this time digitizing, couldn't you have just read the book?

Decapod project (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559425)

Take a look at decapod-project.org for a complete system. Note that software dewarping is quite a hard problem, but it is part of decapod.

Hugin could help (4, Interesting)

Graemee (524726) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559455)

http://hugin.sourceforge.net/tutorials/scans/en.shtml [sourceforge.net] Here's a tutorial to stitch scans together the slight curve of the page is minimized where the scan joins. Might be what you are looking for.

where are my mod points when I need them ? (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560587)

Hugins certainly can do what's required. But OTOH, it can be painfully slow, so beware. A few seconds of attention when taking the pictures can save hours of struggle with any software later in the post-processing.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559523)

What is this PDA of which you speak?

What does "and patented" have to do with it? (0)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559587)

Really, if you are doing this for yourself and have no intention of selling your product, then you are free to use their method all you want. Patent's protect the original inventor from companies who would profit from that invention. If you are not profiting (in ANY way except knowledge) then you are free to build your own system. There are several instances of this, for example the "balancing scooters" that resemble the Segway. There are even plans and software available on the internet for building your own. Bill

Re:What does "and patented" have to do with it? (1)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559625)

Exactly.

How you stitch together a book doesn't matter if it's for your own personal use.

Now, if you want to go commercial you've got quite a few things to figure out.

Regardless, what you're wanting to do is basically orthorectification. There is an open source package out there that does that. Figuring out how to do so would be left to you, but I'd recommend using some sort of yellow projection grid (or red from a red laser) to map the distortion and correct it by treating it as a DEM.

Poor man method- so long as you only want bw scans :)

Re:What does "and patented" have to do with it? (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559677)

Really, if you are doing this for yourself and have no intention of selling your product, then you are free to use their method all you want.

35 U.S.C. 271 (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

Yes, it's extremely unlikely that anyone would ever sue you for infringing a patent in the privacy of your own home because the damages would be minuscule and it would be very difficult to prove infringement, but it's still an infringement.

patented tech is teh evil (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560093)

Of course, neither his digital camera nor his PDA use any patented technology.

OCR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559597)

Wouldn't OCR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_character_recognition) be a much more practical option for this?

You could easily put it on your PDA, etc. and wouldn't have to worry about geometrically correct pages or reducing flashes.

Much faster than scanning? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559701)

Does that include the time needed to now fix the artefacts that scanning doesn't get you?

If you have a scanner, then why don't you just use that? And if you do not have a scanner, why even bother with the speed comparison and not settle for "I don't have a scanner"?

There's a reason that scanning takes time compared to just pointing a camera at a book and snapping a picture. You've now found one of those reasons. Congratulations.

Now you just have to find out if the up front time savings are greater than the post processing time costs, and since you're going to spend time reading through Slashdot and trying out the suggestions, I'm going to say "no, the savings aren't bigger". As someone else said, even Google's scanned/photographed books have issues, so don't be surprised when you do as well.

Re:Much faster than scanning? (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560627)

It is, but you need a (possibly home made) reproduction stand, uniform lightening (not necessarily colour corrected, if you intend to go grayscale only in the end, can be home made too) and a V shaped holder for the book. Be sure your CCD plan is mostly parallel to your page plan.

I want I want (2, Insightful)

ethicalBob (1023525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29559747)

I want a solution to my problem that lets me be incredibly lazy, so I don't have to scan the books in (which i know will work VERY well if I just take the time to do it)...

I want software that will do it. For free.

Can I do it without a camera, too?

Actually I'd like it if there were some way I could get paid for using the software.

Can i just put my iPhone/PDA on the book and have it all sucked in via osmosis?

and then have the book read back to me w/ Morgan Freeman as the narrator?

Is there software that will turn the pages for me too? Oh wait - Morgan is going to narrate for me, that's right...

(sigh)

I know I'm probably getting modded Troll for this one; but there isn't always always an easy (magic!) software solution for every little thing. Sometimes you still have to put the work in if you want quality.

i remember and instructable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29559913)

i never built one of these, but if you have time, this might be your answer.

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-High-Speed-Book-Scanner-from-Trash-and-Cheap-C/

Try using one of the Planon Pen Scanners (2, Interesting)

ArcticBirdman (957505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560041)

I went out and got one of the Planon Pen Scanners. Depending on what you want, they can go all the way to 600 dpi in color. Check out their web site. You can also get bargains on refurbished earlier models if you only need B&W and up to 200 dpi. http://www.planonstore.com/SearchResults.asp [planonstore.com]

Re:Try using one of the Planon Pen Scanners (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29561105)

Yes. Forgot about these. They are pretty neat for just getting a couple of pages out a book. Scan quality is pretty good aswell

Low nerd-factor approach (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560579)

Not as fun as figuring out some massive kluge to do the job, but if it's a book that you can easily find used copies of just cut the binding off or remove the pages with a razor blade, and photograph them flat.
Some of the ebook-torrent scans use that method. It destroys the book but makes for cleanly readable scans.

How about putting the book under glass? (1)

jafo (11982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560621)

I would think you could correct for many of these issues by laying down several inches of foam, putting the book in place, and then pressing it down with a sheet of glass. Maybe with one more piece of foam to prop up the short side when you are at the beginning or end of the book. You know, kind of like what a scanner does...

Of course, you'll still have to deal with lens effects like trapezoidal issues, or skew, but these I imagine are much easier to deal with than curl.

Personally, I've switched to mostly reading Gutenberg books, there's a lot of good stuff there. I've finished Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Around The World in 80 Days, and am working on A Study in Scarlet. They are books I can get in the format I want, at 3am when I'm looking for a new book to read before going to bed. I realize you may need books like textbooks that aren't available there, but if you have the option...

Sean

OpenGL (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29560753)

Load your raster files into OpenGL, apply them as a surface, then warp the surface until it appears flat to you. This is nothing more than what Google is doing automatically with lasers.
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