Monday, March 13, 2006

Article: Checking Out the Machines Behind Book Digitization

If you have been reading this blog consistently, then you won't find anything that is new in this article about Kirtas, but some new information on 4DigitalBooks machines and a bit of who is using what (nothing shocking).

In talking about the Google Book Search, the University of Michigan said:
Some of the books are scanned onsite, with a nondestructive -- but non-robotic -- scanner from German company Zeutschel, or a flatbed scanner from Fujitsu that requires destroying the books' bindings. But most are sent offsite to Google for scanning, says John Wilkin, associate university librarian for library information technology and technical and access services.
4DigitalBooks now has a book scanner that will do 3000 pages per hour, making it the fastest book scanner (if that throughput holds true). The scanner costs $225,000. (Actually, I'm using the word scanning loosely, since 4DigitalBooks reportedly takes very high quality pictures of the pages, which is the same thing Kirtas does.)

4DigitalBooks will rent it equipment to a library and says that the cost per page (even if rented) can be as low as 4 cents/page. However, its equipment is large which can make it prohibitive if space is not available for it.

The article again says that Google is using a proprietary system (as is Amazon). I'm skeptical about that. Why would either company use proprietary systems given the technology that is available in the marketplace? Maybe they have added a proprietary twist to technology that is in the marketplace? Now that I might believe.

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