Destroying books to save them

Today I came across an article* about an associate professor of communications who is digitising his personal book collection of over 3,000 books – and destroying them to do so:

In a post on his blog, A Thaumaturgical Compendium, Mr. Halavais described what he had done to some 800 of his books so far: “First I cut the boards off, and then slice the bindings. I have tried a table saw, but a cheap stack cutter works better. Then I feed [the pages] into my little page-fed scanner, OCR them (imperfectly) using Acrobat, and back them up to a small networked attached storage device.” (See before-and-after pictures, above.) Many of the scanned books he also stores as image files.

The process is slow and, yes, painful. “I’m over a thousand books in, and even now I get that—especially with hardcovers, for some reason—that gut feeling of ‘Will I be judged by the book gods for doing this?'” Mr. Halavais said in an interview. “Destroying books is very difficult. If I could do this in a nondestructive way, I would.”

Could you do it?


*With all due credit to LibraryThing’s Tim Spalding who tweeted it.


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