Wednesday, March 05, 2008

BookSnap Personal Book Digitizer

In a recent article in Newsweek, Steven Levy writes about the BookSnap personal book digitizer (or ripper). It aims to be a consumer-ready product to allow people to digitize their collections of printed books. Make that rich people-- it comes with a $1600 price tag.

But it seems well thought out, with a cradle to rest the book in that minimizes pressure on the book's binding, as well as software that can snap the pictures automatically as the pages are turned. The end result can be output as a pdf for viewing in an ebook reader.

Levy doesn't quite see this first model as ready for prime time, and it is easy to see that the segment of the market who might be willing to buy a $1600 BookSnap over a $100 flatbed scanner would be vanishingly small, in spite of the added features and ease of use.

But I looked at this and saw a class of device that might someday replace the venerable library photocopier, were it suitably hardened to survive in the hand-to-hand combat of self-serve library machinery. Do that, and one more link in the research food chain can switch from analog to digital.