September 22nd, 2011

coyote Phil

1dollarscan: Part 1

I've been scanning my books into PDFs for about 7 years now. It's tedious. This weekend, I packed up 47 books in a box and mailed them to 1dollarscan, for $156 fees plus $21 shipping.

They won't "scan your books for a dollar", but they will scan them for only a little over 1 cent a page. That's cheap. I have a well-honed book-scanning system, but I couldn't chop, scan, proof, and correct them for under 3 cents a page even if I paid myself minimum wage. I thought about hiring somebody to do it, but don't know anybody who would work cheaply enough whom I would trust with the book chopper. I assume 1dollarscan is relying on the fact that 10,000 people will send them a copy of The DaVinci Code, and they will scan it only once. They're probably losing money on me, since the most popular book I sent them is "Fourier Analysis".

If this works, it will be a great time-saver for me. I'm especially impressed by their willingness to scan color pages. The scanners I've used can only scan about 10,000 sheets before they develop microscopic scratches that ruin color pages; but they can go over 100,000 sheets between sensors and still do black and white fine. Sensors are the biggest problem in scanning books. Scanners are NOT designed properly to protect the sensor glass from scratches. The KV-S2046 is a vast improvement over the KV-S2045 in this respect, but it still SUCKS in an absolute sense. It is very expensive to replace the glass on the sensors - either buy a new sensor for $400, or replace the glass by hand - difficult at best as they are glued on; and usually not possible in America, as scanners are Japanese and have a thickness measured in millimeters, while American glaziers have glass sheets only in 1/16" or 1/32". The wrong thickness will ruin the focus.

The second-biggest problem is the chopper blade. I have found no one who can sharpen one properly; and doing it by hand is dangerous, takes hours of hard physical labor, and gives poor results. It really requires an old-fashioned grindstone. They need a convex edge, not a straight edge.

Lots of people complain that they could never do that to their books. These people think they love books. So I admit - I don't love books. I love what's in books. Loving books is like loving someone for their looks.