Derek Dahlsad is a technical wizard and sharp designer. Self taught in most respects, he pulls a formal theatrical design education and part-time computer science courses into a skill-set that is neither purely artistic nor limited by technicality.

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Book Scanning For The Masses
22 Feb 2006, 9:50:25 pm

An innovative person has developed, with the ubiquitously useful LEGO system, an automated book scanner. The article is translated from Japanese, so there's some lovely broken english to read, but the pictures do well.

Book scanning is heavy in the news, mostly about businesses scanning texts and making portions available for free, but if Dover has taught the book world anything, it's that reprints are good money. Lightning Source is a POD printer who, for a fee, will scan your book and prepare it for printing -- with no effort whatsoever. Their market seems primarily to be the reprint market (long-tail sales without the overhead of on-hand stock), but they require cutting off the spines -- something terrible to do if the book is rare or valuable. The pro book scanners that operate without damaging the book (we hope) are quite expensive, but as the Lego project above shows, an innovative person can do well. One huge shortcoming of the one above is that the pages aren't scanned completely flat or square -- but that's fixable, and no doubt some hacker is working on it right now.

I was disappointed with this month's Electronic Publishing magazine -- it was much thinner than I expected, and the letter from the editor seemed to indicate that there weren't enough advertisers to do a full issue. So, entrepeneur, here's an idea, some improvements, and a place to find customers. The book-world isn't a fading industry -- people are willing to put their Legos and imagination together to build something that they can't easily buy on their own. Mixing technology and books -- but not as the obvious 'e-book' route -- may be a market that is underappreciated but populated by tech-savvy customers with money in their pockets.

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