Project Digitize It All (Announcement)

Our studies and jobs demand mobility, but our library demands stability. I have decided to look into ways to fully digitize my private collection of books.

The proximate cause for this is that I will move to another continent in half a year, which obviously implies that my books, preciously collected, shall be boxed up and remain behind. Therefore, it is now a good time for me to look into ways to simply digitize all I have.

Other reasons also play a part in this. Most importantly, as may be obvious from my posts on this blog, I have developed quite some experience in digitalization and archiving. This means I believe I have the facilities and expertise to deal with the result of such a project. It could be a concentrated effort to once more straighten out my archive, setting it up for many years (decades) of use.

This leads me to another point. I notice that in my daily workflow I rely more and more on these digital materials. Literally getting up from my chair and reaching over to a book shelf has become too much effort. To digitize those books I do not yet have digitally seems therefore to be worth some effort.

In the next months I shall regularly post updates on this project. In the above, I gave the rationale for the project. Now I shall briefly outline the dimensions of the project.


Goal: Have digitally available all hard copies I own, neatly integrated in my already existing digital archive. (Please note that it is completely within the law to make a copy for private use of a book you own).

Scope: Maybe not all books I own. Some selection shall be made. Fiction, for example, will probably be excluded or only a very, very tiny selection will be included in the digitalization project. Deciding on the quantity will be one of my immediate priorities. It is hard to give an exact estimation now, as some books are already in storage and some books I already have digitally. For now I would say this project covers somewhere in between 200 to 600 books.

Output: The standard is a pdf as produced by a typical Xerox Workcentre machine. These machines produce a crisp black/white pdf, with good quality and decent file size. Most top-camera book scanners I have come across have serious issues in producing reasonable files. If possible, I want to avoid having to do post-production editing, as this is time consuming, especially for such a large number of items.

Current options: I consider there to be three options to tackle this project.

  1. By hand, using a good old Xerox Workcentre. It produces a result I know, costs no money, and at 7-8 seconds per page it is reasonable fast. Big downside is that I still have to put in hours, and may contract RSI or something similar.
  2. Outsourcing it to a business. They should be able to get the best top-camera scanners on the market, hence, their result should be good. Also, I would have to invest considerably less time. At the moment, this is a very important factor for me, for which I am willing to pay some money. Which brings me to the costs, which are considerable. Initial research points to €0,10 to €0,17 per page. This quickly becomes expensive for a personal project.
  3. Using my own top-camera book scanner. This only becomes a real option when it can produce similar output as a Xerox machine and when it is faster in use. It seems that this option could cost me anywhere between €50,- and €700,-.

Deadline: August, but with the caveat that I do not have all the time in the world to do this.

That’s it for now. Check back later for updates on this project.

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