Google Engineer Releases Design For an Automated Vacuum Powered Book Scanner

Scanning your own books is so 2010, but those of you who are living in the past are probably going to get a kick out of the following scanning rig.

An engineer at Google has just released the blueprints for his book scanner. Dany Qumsiyeh started working on this design because he wanted to find a cheaper replacement for the multi-thousand dollar rigs often found in major universities which was at the same time less labor intensive than other DIY designs.

I’ve seen several of the more expensive models but they have always been well outside anything I can afford. Dany’s design, only costs around $1500 in parts (Macbook sold separately). It can scan 2 facing pages at once, and after a pair of pages are scanned the book is pulled over a vent which is designed so the vacuum can grab just one sheet of paper and turn the page.

All in all, it’s a pretty sweet rig. It’s even more fun to watch it in operation.



Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. BillBrewer14 November, 2012

    Brilliant, but have two page turners, one either side of the scanner and scan in both directions.

    1. Nate Hoffelder14 November, 2012

      I’m not sure how much faster that would be or whether the decrease in scan time would be cancelled out by the increase in cost.

      1. Smoley14 November, 2012

        Huh? It would double the throughput and the cost to add another page-turning channel wouldn’t come anywhere near doubling the cost. So it’s well worth it provided the total time to scan a book is important to you.

        1. Nate Hoffelder15 November, 2012

          I think the cost would also nearly double. It looks like the page turn part is designed to only work one way, so if you wanted a scanner on both sides of it you would need a second page turner or a different design.

  2. Sami Nenonen15 November, 2012

    Copyright infringement lawsuit from angry publishers inbound in 5… 4…

    1. Smoley15 November, 2012

      Nah, there are legitimate uses for this as many books are out of copyright and may be copied freely.

      It no more infringes on copyrighted material than does the Canon scanner they disassembled for its scanning sensors and electronics.

      A question that’s yet to be answered by the courts is are you allowed to scan a book that you own as fair use (as you can with copyrighted video and audio content). There are a number of businesses that will scan books for you as a service and they’re still in business so it must be somewhat accepted as fair use.


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