Digitizing Books for Fun and Preservation

With the introduction of e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Nobel Nook e-books have finally gained a foothold. In fact it’s been almost one and a half year since Amazon announced that they sold more e-books than hardcover books. It’s easy to see why e-books have taken off, it’s far more convenient to have every book you own on a single device instead of lugging around a handful of books wherever you go. Unfortunately there are some books that still aren’t in electronic format, many of which are very rare. For example, I have a copy of The Black Flag of Anarchy Corinne Jacker. It’s a very interesting title that covers anarchism in the United States but, as far as I can see, no electronic copy exists and no electronic copy is likely to be made. That is, at least, until I follow these instructions for building a do-it-yourself book scanners:

Daniel Reetz, founder of DIYBookScanner.org, had been making kits available for those looking to build their own device. Finding a need for a scanner himself, Reetz built his first book scanner from the trash he found from dumpster diving. He created an Instructable to share his experiences and discovered a diverse group of individuals who also had the need for a book scanner. The group ranged from a man from Indonesia hoping to preserve books from flood damage to a group of engineers looking for a new and interesting project to spark their interests. The DIY Book Scanner had modest beginnings, but over a period of two years it evolved into a movement of individuals using readily available resources to create solutions.

The article primarily discusses the trials and tribulations faced by the ArsTechnica writers who built one of the do-it-yourself scanners. It’s not easy but it is possible and the technology is guarantee to improve and become more accessible. Digitizing books is the most effective way to make rare titles available for everybody’s enjoyment and is currently the most effective way of preventing such titles from disappearing entirely. It is my hope that every piece of written literature will someday be available in electronic format.

2 thoughts on “Digitizing Books for Fun and Preservation”

  1. I have owned a 2nd generation Kindle and have yet to actually purchase an e-book for it. When you buy through Amazon you do not own the book, you merely have a license to view it which can be revoked at any time. They also have a backdoor where they can potentially delete or alter anything on your Kindle as they see fit.

    Of course there is an easy way to defeat their backdoor; simply cut a trace or two to the 3G chip and never connect it to a computer that is online but that seems a tad absurd to simply protect your rights.

    This DIY book scanner is awesome. It’d make it simple to make a backup digital copy of all of your books and put it into a non-proprietary format that is not filled with DRM.

    1. An easier way of dealing with Amazon’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) is to simply use DeDRM to remove it. After you’ve removed the DRM you can make as many copies of the file as you want, load it on any device that accepts .mobi formatted files (or convert the files into ePub using Caliber), and avoid any attempt Amazon makes to revoke the file. Doing so allows you to make purchased from the Kindle Store, not worry about their DRM, and avoid altering the hardware (and therefore voiding the warranty).

Comments are closed.