It is difficult to identify the proportion of participating library contributions in overall LSDI expenses. Moreover, because of varying estimates of digitization costs, it is impossible to forecast the digitization investments of participating commercial partners. A quick review of the literature reveals no consensus on metrics or factors for calculating all the costs involved in digitizing a book. For example, the CIC’s Google Initiative FAQ estimates the costs of digitization for the libraries before joining the Google program at about $100 per volume. The Internet Archive claims that its digitization process costs about 10 cents a page, or $30 for a 300-page book. These are not inclusive totals and may not include several pre- or post-processes.Although digitization services can be like commodity services, there are still too many variables. For these large scale projects, even a slight cost variation per image can be huge when looking at the entire project. But what amazes me is that we haven't agreed on the metrics or factors in calculating costs. Who needs to set that guideline? Cornell? Google? Library of Congress? If we could agree, then real sharing of cost information could occur that would allow us all to compare apples to apples. That could even spark discussions on how to drive costs lower and make digitization a true commodity service.
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