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There are many ways to scan, this is the current state of the art in Calafou.


The amount of work in the postproduction phase depends on how good quality images you can make in the scanning phase!

  1. Setting up the cameras: the most important part.


  • camera should look at right angle on the page
  • all the page should be in the image
  • camera settings: full automatic, perhaps with manual focus
  • back up and empty the SD cards in the cameras
  • most subtle mistake: one camera sees letters bigger than the other camera
  1. Push the big button on the scanner to scan.
  • maybe you have to put your finger to the side of the plexiglass which is closer to you when it is “down”, because the plexiglass is not always exactly the same angle as the book pages
  1. Download the images from the SD cards and put the scanner to sleep.
  • from the camera on the left, copy the images to a folder called “odd”
  • from the camera on the right, copy the images to a folder called “even”
  • upload the two folders now to to ftp://seldon.calafou/HackTheBiblio/scanning/<math>bookname--</math>yourname/ folder
  • remember to delete the pictures from the SD cards and put them back to the cameras, and maybe put the camera batteries to charge


Using an up-to-date Debian operating system, you can install the following programs for the postproduction steps:

  • scantailor
  • gprename
  • pdftk
  • tesseract-ocr
  • tesseract-ocr-eng
  • tesseract-ocr-spa
  • calibre

You can install all these programs with the following invocation:

sudo apt install scantailor gprename pdftk tesseract-ocr /
         tesseract-ocr-eng tesseract-ocr-spa calibre


You start with two folders with files like IMG_1234.JPG

The basic workflow is like this:

  1. [program] ➔ [output]
  2. gprename ➔ 1.jpg, 2.jpg, …
  3. scantailor ➔ 1.tif, 2.tif, …
  4. tesseract ➔ 1.pdf, 2.pdf, …
  5. pdftk ➔ book.pdf
  6. calibre ➔ book.epub
  7. ➔
  8. etc.

There are some bash oneliners which can be useful (on Debian based systems):

  1. FIXME we can probably write a script to rename the files properly… but for now, in gprename select the “numberical” tab, start = 1 for right-pages and 2 for left-pages, always step = 2.

  2. You can rotate the images appropriately (which is called “fix orientation” in scantailor) in the left/right folders before you import them. This is faster than in scantailor I think. However, you can also make the same operation in scantailor in a more user friendly way.

    sudo apt-get install imagemagick
    cd left
    mogrify -verbose -rotate 270 *
    cd ../right
    mogrify -verbose -rotate 90 *
  3. Does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on all images in folder:

    time for i in *tif; do b="basename $i .tif"; tesseract -l spa "$i" “$b” pdf; done
  4. Merges all the pdf files in folder into one single file:

    pdftk *pdf cat output book.pdf
  5. Exports the pdf metadata to a text file, to edit:

    pdftk book.pdf  dump_data output report.txt
  6. Imports the metadata of report.txt back on the pdf:

    pdftk book.pdf update_info report.txt output bookcopy.pdf


Think about how people who would be interested in this book could know about it!


You may consider spreading the word on relevant mailing lists, social media, etc.


About our book scanner



Principal sources

Reading And Leading With One Laptop Per Child