During my Christmas Break I acquired a Kindle, about that same time I came across the work of Daniel Reetz
. Daniel created a low budget book scanner capable of digitizing books quickly and efficiently. I really liked this idea and had a vision of myself no longer burdened by a backpack full of textbooks. Further visualization techniques led me to envision a world where I had my entire library collection with me in a small hand held device that could easily search my entire collection when given queries. I took this even further and visualized an entire university with students at this level.
With my thinking done I quickly set to work. I built the cheapest book scanner money could buy costing me approx. $20 for a camera stand and lamp (I already had a digital camera). I also invested in ABBYY Fine Reader for $50 which put some pretty easy to use optical character recognition at my fingertips.
With the acquisition of supplies completed I assembled my scanner and started digitizing my books. I managed to digitize all the text books for all of this semesterâ€™s courses in about one week. I processed all the images, ran the ocr, and generated the mobi-pocket versions of my books (for my kindle) in this time as well. While I might add that it was a total pain to digitize my books it paid off over the semester in significantly lighter backpack loads.
In addition to my personal endeavorer I also started a feasibility study of implementing an e-book reader program on the University of Wyoming campus. This program would consist of every student receiving an e-book reader at a low or no cost through the university. In our study we managed to survey over 800 students and over 100 faculty, with the results showing that a program such as this would be supported by the university culture. Hopefully my teams work on this project will someday result in a system much like the one that I envisioned, an efficient and sustainable system for storing and reading our books.