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November 26, 2008

<< Flat, Fast Turkey | Digital Editions >>

Violence to Books

Sin against the Holy Spirit: I’m debating buying a fast sheet-fed scanner and cutting up my library so I can have it with me all the time as PDFs.

Insane? Genius? Should I just get a Kindle instead?

Posted November 26, 2008 at 8:01 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Briefly Noted


IF you could assure that the scanned-in copies were actually reproduced in a really coherent, readable form -- not just a bunch of off-register PDFs -- then I say GENIUS.

Depends in large part on the software that comes w/ the scanner, I suppose -- how smart & automatic is it?

What I love even more is the idea of a whole cabal of people getting similar machines and establishing a shared darknet of digitized books and documents. Hint, hint...

I actually have a lower-end version of the ScanSnap that I love. I use it for document-scanning (bills, big receipts, tax returns, greeting cards, ticket stubs), and I'm slowly creating a digital archive of my three giant boxes of papers.

But I'd say even with a scanner going twice as fast as mine and carrying 5x the number of pages, as the S510 does, it would take a *lot* of time to scan books. Although you are a more focused, patient, dedicated person than I am, I would worry about burnout setting in circa book 3.

Also, PDFs created via scans ≠ PDFs created from digital sources. Most documents scan cleanly enough for my purposes, but they carry artifacts from the page, even at the best quality settings. (Oddly, the better the quality setting, the more a document resembles a high-quality photo of a page, rather than a digitized version of the page. This means that when screen legibility is my first priority, I often find myself purposely forcing lower-quality scans.)

I've actually scanned a couple of books this way (using the specific machine above). It takes about a half hour per book, give or take, but it's dead simple.

I'd much rather have cheap access to digital copies of my books. Where's the Netflix watch instantly for digital books?

Imagine if, for a fee, not chump change either, Amazon allowed you to browse ALL of their digital copies. It wouldn't be every book in the library, but it would be a lot. What would you pay? I'd peg my upper price at about $40/month, or $500/year.

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