Saturday, July 31, 2010

Scanning Book Covers

Yesterday I mentioned that our vast book holdings resemble a library.

Here's the difference. In a library you have dedicated people who catalog books according to some classification system (e.g., Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress). In my house, the titles sharing the same shelf or box could be as dissimilar as the titles above (all of which were, in fact, on the same shelf).

With a wand scanner and the technique I used on the images above, it takes just 5 seconds to scan a book cover. I bet I can scan 10 book covers in a minute. That's pretty awesome. I guess you could also use a flatbed scanner, but I think it would take a lot more time.

My wand scanner is the Brookstone "iConvert Portable Scanner," one of the many different Brookstone gadgets you can use to that convert old-style media to digital form. The "original" is the Magic Wand Scanner made by Vupoint. I think the only difference is the painted logo.

The bad thing about books is they are thick, and wand scanners use little rollers to figure out how much distance you've traveled. Once the rollers go off the end of the cover, the scanner doesn't know it's still moving over the page, so it stops grabbing information. You can see that the images above stop short of the bottom of the page. J. K. Rowling's name is mostly missing from the picture of the Harry Potter book.


The good thing is books are thick. I have a distinct, square edge to use for aligning my scan, resulting in nicely "justified" pictures. I do lose a tiny bit of upper edge of the cover. Notice how the words "Harry Potter" are partly cut off. Fortunately, most publishers don't put the title above the top 1/2 inch of the book.

Despite missing tiny bits of the covers, this method looks promising. Tomorrow I'll scan covers for a box of books that's been in the basement and play "sort the covers" with my family. Should be fun!

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