Book scanners

MPOW is struggling towards getting digitization off the ground, and one of the things I’ve been looking at are book scanners. We often scan rare or fragile (Italian) material, so smooshing down a book onto a flatbed isn’t acceptable. I was surprised at how few vendors there are to choose from. There’s Kirtas, which makes a high-end machine that can do up to 2400 pages an hour. I saw one demonstrated at the BookExpo at Javits last week, and they’re very cool. The book is held in a cradle, and the pages are turned by means of a puff of air. It works quite well, and it scores very high on the Neat-O Scale. It’s very expensive, though, and we don’t have the necessary volume of material to be scanned to justify buying one of these. We’ve done some outsourcing to Kirtas, and been pleased with the results, but it’s overkill for us.

Then there’s the Atiz BookDrive DIY. Most book scanners have the same basic setup: a scaffolding encloses a platen for the book along with mounts for 2 digital cameras pointed at either page of the book. Atiz sells you the scaffolding and lets you pick the cameras yourself, thus the DIY. Atiz also makes something called the BookDrive, which supposedly enables fully unattended scanning. It’s a fully enclosed unit (reminded me of a toaster oven) that turns the pages of the book via an arm with a mild adhesive on it. It gives me the willies to even consider that.

I love the Scribe scanners that the Internet Archive is using, at least in part because I agree so strongly with the ideology and goals of the project, but again, we don’t have the volume to qualify for an on-site Scribe, and we will probably be doing some outsourcing to NYPL’s Scribe station later this year.

We already use a Minolta book scanner, and the Indus (ours are branded BookEye,) so I know about those already. But I haven’t really been able to find anything else, and you’d think there’d be more out there. Anyone know of any others?