This project originated from the desire to solve a common problem I was facing as a physics student: Owning a lot of smart and equally heavy books, but not wanting to carry them around just to have them handy for reference.
There where laptops and iPads everywhere, but no really convenient and affordable solution for digitizing these books – you know that, if you ever spent hours in front of a copier or scanner!
The key idea of booksorber is based on the fact that
- most people own a digital camera
- taking pictures of a book is MUCH faster than scanning
The problem is, that raw book images need a lot of complicated post-processing to turn them into some nice looking PDF file, let’s say. At first they are distorted due to page curvature, badly aligned and usually suffer from uneven illumination – still, this should be solvable – right!?
Since I accepted the challenge as a side project, a lot of research has gone into booksorber's sophisticated algorithms to solve these problems within an automatic and streamlined workflow. The prototype is ready, working and heavily used by myself and some alpha testers. Now I’d really like to make it commercially available as a polished product, so that others can benefit from it as well. With your help this could happen very soon!
Look up all the details (including output examples) on www.booksorber.com.
What We Need & What You Get
Going from a working prototype to a reliable commercial product incurs a lot of costs, in this case this would be:
- Programming a convenient user interface and further testing
- Licensing third-party libraries like the one for generation of pdf documents
- Building an online distribution platform, including costs for webdesign and server hosting
- Dealing with all the legal stuff and expenses connected to the setup of a business.
- Expenses for marketing
If you support the project now, I will be eternally thankful, and you can get the finished product effectively at a heavily discounted price, aside from being one of the first to digitize their books in minutes!
For the higher-value perks I’ll be returning specially selected components for the hardware part of the project, so you’re ready to go as soon as the software becomes available.
Disclaimer (for perks involving hardware components):
To put all your money to good use, hardware will be efficiently ordered all at once, and therefore shipped to you only after the end of the funding period!
If I don’t reach the funding goal I still intend to realize the project, but it will take much longer, since I would have to source the lacking funds all by myself.
I honestly hope that this software will be useful for many people out there, since up to now no comparable solution is available for the consumer market:
- Industrial book scanners may automate the page-turning process but require multi-thousand-dollar investments.
- Overhead Scanners (which are sometimes available at libraries) are still quite slow and not everybody has access to them (at least not for a sufficient amount of time to scan an entire book).
- Book scanning services usually destroy your book in the process (because the spine is cut off before scanning) which might not be what you want.
I feel very confident about meeting all design goals (not least because the prototype is already working really well)
- Speed: Photographing a 500 pages book takes no more than 5 minutes, followed by approximately 10 minutes of unattended (!) processing by booksorber, right now.
- Ease of Use: I will provide in-depth tips and instructions on the setup of the hardware (camera, tripod, light source, …) required to photograph a book - this is really just a one-minute operation.
- Quality: Results are already very satisfactory, even for challenging color material with a mixture of text and graphics.
- Reliability: Whenever I hear the words “automatic” and “software” in the same sentence – I’m alarmed. This is why I put special emphasis on an efficient “manual mode” should automatic page detection fail on some complex (magazine) material, so that manual intervention in post-processing takes a few minutes in a worst case scenario.
I have an engineering and computer science background, have successfully implemented many hardware and software projects, and can count on the help of enthusiastic friends and colleagues I’ve gathered to support the project through their work and advice.
Other Ways You Can Help
It’s not all about the money – you can help a lot by:
- Telling friends and colleagues about the project
- Writing about it in a related internet forum you're active in or on your blog or homepage. (This really helps a lot! We often can't do it on our own since self-advertisement is considered spam.)
- Spreading the word on social networks using the links at the bottom
- Establishing valuable contacts to individuals or institutions who could be interested in reselling the software with their own products (like cameras, OCR software, or eBook-related devices)
- Writing a short endorsement to be featured on the booksorber homepage