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The Book Liberator: Taking a Page from Every Book, Literally

You're forgiven if you've never thought of a book as being stuck inside its own covers. A few years ago, TV still lived in a box (which was still...

You're forgiven if you've never thought of a book as being stuck inside its own covers. A few years ago, TV still lived in a box (which was still boxy), and a few decades ago, recorded music existed at 20 minutes a side. Now James Vasile, along with fellow designers Ian Sullivan and Karl Fogel, is looking to do for humble hardbacks what's already been done for other media-extract them, and get them onto laptops. That's the thinking behind their Book Liberator, a scanning rig built out of cheap materials and designed to house the digital camera that, as Vasile says, "you already have in your pocket."


Currently in prototype, the Liberator will be sold as a kit and aimed at college students, at prices far lower than those of high-end book-scanners: think $120 instead of several thousand. And this is where the plan seems particularly clever. The technology has been around for years, but the scaling hasn't, and its creators see the Liberator as simply addressing an odd lag in the system. "Somehow, the digital revolution skipped the book," says Vasile. (Of course, copyright concerns have also slowed things, and it helps that all three work in the open-source legal arena.)Besides, the Liberator's low-rent, low-fuss style-Vasile calls the kits "Ikea-simple"-not only saves critical dollars, it lends an appealing, analog quality to the whole operation, which should convert a few Luddites. "You do have to turn the pages yourself," Vasile admits. And so you should.Learn more: photos, video, and instructions at the Book Liberator Wiki.
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