Book Scanner Kits Now Available

[Daniel Reetz] wants you to be able to scan books. This has been a goal of his for quite some time, and now he’s bringing a kit into play. We’ve always liked book scanners here, many of us have extensive libraries or even peculiar selections we would like to share. [Daniel] is starting off with a short run of these scanners. Once all the bugs are worked out, there should be plenty available for everyone. The kit includes the frame, LED lighting, bicycle levers, and cables. You have to add glass, books, and a camera.

Of course, if you still want to design and build your own, there are TONS of variations available in the forums at

[via Adafruit]



28 thoughts on “Book Scanner Kits Now Available

    1. If you have access to a cutter then you’d save money on making the wood frame yourself from the designs. But if not then you’d have to factor in those production costs. Also note that there are quite a few more components than what you described.

      disclaimer: I hang at the diybookscanner forum but I’m not involved in the work on this new scanner.

      1. There is nothing that could justify this device costing as much as a 3D printer.

        I could buy a CNC kit for less than the cost of this kit and cut my own wood to build it. Something is wrong with that.

      2. Do you know why 3D printers now cost $600?

        Because hundreds of people have been refining and revising the design _for years_ and have managed to bring the cost down.

        This project is not nearly as old as DIY 3D printing, and there are far less people actively working on it.

        If you really think you can put something like this together for less than what he’s asking, THEN DO IT. Until you do, it’s all just talk.

  1. Too bad it’s uber expensive. I have a couple of very rare Automotive books that I would love to share as a PDF to the world. (They are out of copyright) but I am unwilling to destroy a $1200 book to run it through the scanner/copier here at work.

    One is a 1920’s book on Turbocharger design and use on internal combustion engines. It’s incredibly cool and even has some references to the work by Alfred Büchi himself. I know a lot of guys that are gear heads that would LOVE To read the thing.

  2. You’re not paying just for the materials, guys; you’re paying for the design, for support, for the time needed to produce the parts, for the machine used to produce them, and you’re funding continued improvements to the technology.

    You may still not think it’s worth the price, of course, but at least be aware that the price includes a hell of a lot more than “a few pieces of wood” and that material costs alone very seldom dictate the price of _anything_ you go out and buy.

    1. For that price, I could buy the parts to a 3d printer. That includes circuits, chips of all sorts, heavy-ish duty motors, print head.

      Versus some wood, leds (ooooh), bicycle parts, and some cables. Yeah, there’s a whole 50$.

      1. Do you have a CNC router at your disposal large enough to cut the parts? A workshop where you can do the job? How much is your time worth to you and how much of it are you willing to spend to reach the same level of refinement this project has so far? How much of your time will this rig save you over the time you own it?

        If you don’t have the CNC mill or have access to a decent workshop, then lump the cost of having the parts custom cut into your valuation. If you value your time, figure the number of hours it will take you to replicate the design in as well. Now look at the size of the book collection you plan to scan and figure out roughly how much time you are likely to save by having the scanning rig.

        Quit making the mistake of basing a thing’s value solely on the materials that go into it. If you take into account these kinds of other factors and still decide it’s too expensive for you, I cant fault you. But if you whinge about the pricing based on what’s often the smallest contributor to a thing’s cost – its material content – you’re just being plain stupid and disrespecting (by discounting entirely) the work that others have done.

  3. I wonder how many of the “thats too expensive for bunch of parts” crowd have ever developed and built a real project. If you think it’s too expensive – stfu and build one yourself. But you probably are too much of a troll to do that.

  4. I’ll jump in on the “that’s too expensive” bandwagon. My dad and I have been working on a book scanner for awhile now. The book holder and platen are the easiest and cheapest parts of the build. The most expensive and difficult parts are the cameras and a method of powering them and firing them simultaneously. There’s no way this should cost 600 unless they actually included the cameras and electronics.

  5. As others have said, retail costs are not just the material costs.
    1. think of how much money you would make if you were paid for every second you spend on making things or hobbies.
    2. Don’t like the cost make one yourself, if you’ve been to the forum you would know that is what the site is about. Obviously the kits are not intended for those who have the means to build one themselves.
    3. You need to think of it as an initial cost. Time and more efficient means of production will lower costs. Things that are not factory made cost more, end.

  6. You do know professional automated book scanners cost in the high 5 to 6 figures, don’t you? You can’t get a book scanner for less than that, until now. So, it’s unique. You can charge a much higher amount than $600 for a unique product. Say it takes 5 hours to package, gather parts, cut and ship a kit. At $100/hr skilled labor (that’s on the low side) that’s $500, add on another $100 for parts. Apple products have 50% profit margin, so make that $1200, then add on software, which could easily be another $1000. (Silverfast professional photo scanning software is that much, if you want HDR that’s another $850).
    So I’d say the market price could be $2200 w/o electronics, maybe $3000 with cameras, unassembled.
    BTW, hand built products always cost much more. Compare hand made furniture, for example.

  7. Uhh…yes. That is way too much money.

    To the people “but you have to pay him for his time!”

    Okay, that’s…that’s okay. Except he’s framing this as “let’s but one of these in every hackerspace!”

    “Let’s” — as in we’re in on this together.

    My paying you for a couple of pieces of plywood is not “us” putting a book scanner in a hackerspace…it’s *me* putting a book scanner in a hackerspace.

    So “I want *you* to put one of *my* bookscanners in your hackerspace” would be more appropriate.

    1. I think the idea re: getting one into every hacker space is that it’s open hardware, so those that are motivated can put one together for their own hacker space with no impediments.

  8. Wow, after reading all these replies I understand more clearly why the kit isn’t available anymore. While I agree this is a high cost for a plywood kit, I think the problem here is that they are using a low tech/low cost material (wood) and manufacturing it with high tech/high cost (cnc) equipment… There might be a better material that is somewhat equal in cost but that doesn’t require such high cost manufacturing, such as extruded and tubular frame aluminum and cast aluminum connections… If designed to be fabricated with simple square cuts, no cnc equipment would be required. It would also ship at a much lower cost.

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