Digitizing a book can be almost as tough as writing one. Here's how it's done:
1: Convert each page into a digital image by scanning or photographing it.
This process is often done by hand, usually by low-wage workers in India and China. These workers place pages onto an ordinary computer scanner, one page at a time. At top speed, they can scan about 100 pages an hour.
Automated scanning machines, much like copy machines, do exist. But most require the pages to be cut out, a poor choice for rare books. Recently, start-ups such as Kirtas Technologies of Victor, N.Y., have introduced automated book-scanning machines that can turn pages. Kirtas' book scanner uses a robotic arm to flip pages past a 16-megapixel Canon digital camera.
2: Clean and crop the image
A computer program processes the image. It crops it to the proper size, centers the text on the page, and removes smudges and other errors.
3: Run word-recognition software
Before this step, each page of the book is stored as a picture. The picture can be posted online, but searching through the text is impossible. To do that, the computer must "read" the book using optical character recognition software. This software looks for letters in the image, and turns them into words. When the process works, the text of the book can be turned into an ordinary word-processing document that can be searched, edited, copied and pasted.
4: Store, and post the book
The book is now in its electronic form, and must be stored just like any other computer file. It can be put on a CD or stored on a hard drive.
Source: USA TODAY research