Book digitization or book scanning is a technique where any physical book or a document is converted into an eBook or digital media like electronic texts, books, and pictures using an image scanner. The benefit of digital books is that they are easily reproduced, distributed and also one can easily read them on screen.
Traditional Book Scanning
Traditional book scanners are used to scan important documents or books. These image/book scanners are either automated/manual. In the ordinary commercial image/book scanner, books/documents are placed on the platen. After that optical array and light move across the document/book just below the glass. In case of manual scanners, the glass plate covers the edge of the book scanner. This helps in lining up the spine of the book. In other scanners, the book is placed in a V-shaped frame, and scanning is done from above. The pages in these scanners are either turned manually or with the help of automated paper transport devices. To flatten the pages plastic/glass sheets are pressed against the page.
If you are low on budget then this is the best scanning method. Here the book/magazine is cut off the binding. The book is then converted into a bunch of loose-leaf pages which are loaded into an automatic document feeder and are scanned with common and inexpensive scanning technology. This method is not suggested for uncommon and rare books. The two technical difficulties with the said process are cutting and scanning.
This is somehow less destructive and more precise than cutting pages with scissors. Here the pages are carefully unbound by hand or by using tools. This method is used effectively for thousands of pages that are made up of fragile and brittle pages. Unbinding is an effective method to preserve physical pages making them accessible to readers and researchers and the pages are less vulnerable to damage when examined subsequently.
The only drawback of this method is that the unbound pages are exposed to oxygen because of being fluffed up and this can cause rapid deterioration. This issue can be resolved by placing heavyweight on the pages and store in air-tight containers.
This is a very laborious method because the method varies greatly with the binding technology. Some pages are bound with nails while others are attached with glue so the process of unbinding in such cases is quite difficult.
The method of cutting a stack of 500-1000 pages in one go was first achieved with the help of a guillotine paper cutter. This paper cutter is a large steel table with a paper-vise that attaches to the stacks and then secures all the stacks before cutting. With a large sharpened steel blade cutting is done. A lever is attached to the blade which allows it to cut in one go by applying several pounds of force.
You cannot expect to cut a thick stack of papers with the help of a traditional paper cutter. These are only used for a few sheets; normally ten sheets are the limit. Large paper stacks offer torsional force on the axis. As a result, the blade is pulled away from the edge of the table. The resultant cut becomes inaccurate as the cut is no more aligned with the hinge and the force for holding the blade increases as it moves away from the axis.
The guillotine cutting process dulls the blade and re-sharpening of it are required over time. Coated and glossy papers like magazines dull the blade quickly than any other plain paper because of the extra clay coating. Removal of the binding of a hardcover book causes additional damage to the blade due to the stiff cover material. Therefore, the outer cover is often removed by hand and only the inner pages are cut with this cutter.
To avoid this, another method of unbinding is employed i.e. using a table saw. This method is quite dangerous and it doesn't leave smooth cutting like the guillotine paper but the good thing is it is readily available to the average person.
Once all the pages/papers are separated from the stack, they can be scanned separately by using an automatic document feeder or traditional scanner. It is pertinent to note that papers that are curved in an arc due to irregular binding are difficult to scan with an automatic document feeder (ADF). The ADF scanners are used to scan pages that are uniform in size and shape. Pages that are irregular in shape and size can lead to poor scanning results. These curved edges are normally guillotined off to make the edges smooth and flat.
The coated pages of bound books and magazines make them quite hard for channels and rollers in ADF to guide and pick up along the paper path. These coated papers may misfeed and jam the rollers of the ADF that are used to flip the pages over. While scanning magazines it is very important to remove fold-out pages and subscription cards because these things offer extra challenges while scanning.
Technology used in Traditional Scanning
The technology used in book scanning has come a long way. The advances in digital cameras have also revolutionized book scanners.
- Flatbed Scanner
Book placement: Face down on a 180º plane
Image capture tech: It has a linear sensor that captures one line at a time
Book centering: For every scan, the book must be positioned correctly
Flattener: Stresses on binding
Capture method: Manual capture button at every scan
Results and drawback: Curved text lines, messed near the binding.
- Planetary Scanners
Book placement: Face up on a 180º plane
Image capture tech: 1 sensor captures spread pages
Book centering: Bookbinding creeps from left to right as pages are turned resulting in marginal crawls.
Flattener: Fingers holding the pages from flapping
Capture method: Manual capture button or foot pedal every scan
Results and drawback: Curved text lines requires software fix.
- V-shaped book scanner
Book placement: Face-up on V-cradle
Image capture tech: 2 sensors individually capture a true left and a true right page.
Book centering: Bookbinding is centered throughput scanning. Further handling is not required
Flattener: V-glass gently engages the pages
Capture method: Automatic capture. Time and automatic sensor
Results: Straight text lines, natively curvature-free.
All these methods of book scanning are quite time consuming because of the technology involved. For large projects where very precise, high quality, and huge page scanning is required these scanners don't offer the required results. That is why despite the hard work the quality is still very low. In these scanners, the lines are either curved or they are messed up near the binding.
Book Scanning Now
Thanks to the evolving technology now we have more efficient, tech-savvy, and time-efficient scanners. Take for example the CZUR scanner E18 model. The scanning by this scanner is now as easy as turning pages.
The ET18 scanner has revolutionized the scanning experience by introducing intelligent, simple, and fast scanning performance. With the help of this scanner all books, magazines, and documents that are within A3 size can be scanned without cutting or unbinding. All the scanned documents are then converted into editable PDF, excel word, and TIFF formats through OCR functionality. Some of the features of this scanner are mentioned below:
- Scan 2 pages in 1.5 seconds
- 16MP HD camera
- Scan within A3 size
- OCR technique
- Anti-reflection to make the contents more readable
- Multiple operating modes
- Visual presenter
The software of the ET18 model has all the intelligent image processing features like:
- Professional trimming
- Auto-flattening and smart paging
- Five color modes
- Batch edit and export
All these features of CZUR ET18 model make scanning a fun task. It is now possible to scan documents efficiently without being worried about the quality.