Posted by: Tony Carson | 13 November, 2009

How Google scans its books

Google, as we all know, is planning to duplicate the Library at Alexandria … in digital form: it is in the process of scanning millions of books for our reading and search pleasure. (Who knows what it’s going to cost us.)

Indeed by November ’08 Google had scanned 7 million books, well on its way to its target of 15 million.

But how in hell does Google do it! Anyone who has scanned a page knows what a pain it is, and how mind-numbingly slow it can be.

Is there a quonset hut in some third-world out-back where near-slave-labourers press pages to flatbed scanners?



They use the Elphel Model 323 camera (apparently it is possible to see thumbs on some of the pages).

Here’s an explanation from dreaming ArtemisJust another blog about photography and things I learned along the way.

Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce the Elphel Model 323 camera. Which is the camera currently being used by Google (yes that GOOGLE!) for their Google book search project which aims to scan in 15 million books and make them accessible to the masses!

It is capable (drumroll please!) of scanning 1000 pages per hour! at 11 megapixel! I must admit the thing looks freaking cool! I mean its using a Nikon 85mm f/1.8 with what looks like an adapter to allow the use of nikon lenses on a Mamiya body?! I would love to see how it works as well as it in action!

This may be more than you want to know about this but at least you don’t have to feel the pain of the guy who is opening and closing that flatbed lid, 50,000 times a day.

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