Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scanning and scrubbing not tiresome at all

This book-scanning-and-cleaning-up business isn't as tough as expected. Now that the learning process--not sweaty at all--is done, getting my 1994 book Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America into e-print is going rapidly.

I'm using a 2009 Mac mini and a seven-year-old Epson Perfection 1650 Photo scanner with VueScan scanner software and the ABBYY Finereader Express optical character recognition program. The process is quick and simple: Slap a page from the book (I cannibalized a paperback copy) into the flatbed scanner, then tell VueScan to scan the page and save it as a TIFF file. Once that's done, VueScan automatically fires up ABBYY Finereader, which reads the TIFF and, when prompted, saves the text as a Rich Text Format (.rtf) file.

That takes about 30 seconds for each page.

Once all 16 or 20 pages of a chapter have been scanned, I then open a new Word file, then click on each successive .rtf file, copying and pasting it one by one into the Word file.

In less than a minute Word will reformat the chapter to specs. I'll then read it as carefully as I can, cleaning up the (very) few OCR errors as I go, and finally give it a swift kick with the spell check.

The next step is to e-mail each chapter to the loyal volunteer railfan proofreaders and wait for their responses. (One caught me in an egregious error in the original book, an error that went unmentioned for 18 years.)

The whole process takes about 90 minutes for each chapter, including making notes of items to update for the future Epilogue.

I'm doing just one chapter a day. That prevents me from growing weary and careless. And hey, there's life outside books.

In two weeks all 12 chapters and the Author's Note should be done and the original book completely converted into Word, ready for conversion into e-book formats.

Except maybe for the index. I'll have to research the possibilities of adding an index to the e-book version. That might be the toughest job of all.

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