Last Friday I spent some time with Michael Korntheuer from Hackerspace Brussels in order to digitize two books written by Neel Doff, a Brussels author whose work has been welcomed in the public domain this year and whose work I’m trying to get read by machinal agents during a residency with Olivier Heinry in Variable.
We scanned Keetje, an edition on dusty yellowish paper of 1954 by the Brussels publisher La Renaissance du Livre; and Jours de Famine et de Détresse, an edition on even more fragile paper of 1943 by another Brussels publisher Editions de la Toison d’Or. It caused some problems but in the end it worked and I finally uploaded the books and became a volunteer to the Gutenberg Project! Thanks, Michael.
Michael Korntheuer is interested in the practical side of digitizing your home library. He created an automatic DIY-scanner in Hackerspace Brussels that was put to proof during VJ13. Apart of this beautiful performative machine that respects the book as an object Michael also has the consumer’s version of the home scanning device. In less than three minutes it scans a book, and it takes another three minutes for Adobe to ocr the text and recompose it in a facsimile of the book. It is impressive.
But here are the contradictions:
* You have to cut the spine of the book before the scanning process. This feels like bringing your darling to the slaughterhause.
* It works fluently for contemporary editions, printed on clear white paper with high resolution printing quality. But once you want to digitize old editions it gets into trouble and the scanning process took up to 1,5h.
Every 50 pages the rollers needed to be cleaned with soap because the dust of the book makes them loose grip.
The pages are scanned but need manual help to go through the feeder, and thus, need sorting out again if you want to preserve the book afterwards.