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From pieces of old book to web document.

Creating the eBook Working in Metals

Purchase the Book

We were alerted to this book by Frank Turley and then searched on for a copy. The first copy we purchased was not very expensive. But when we decided to put the book on line we bought a second copy. In three years the price had tripled! When reprinting a book it is a good idea to have a complete copy as well as a disassembled one so that you can accurately create the reprint.

Disassembling the Book

Old worn hard back books are fairly easy to disassemble. We selected the book that was in the worst condition to take apart. First the point where the book attaches to the cover at the hinges is slit with a knife. The raw book easily is removed. Then the glue and binders cloth is scraped off the back until the signatures (the sewn groups of 24 pages) are loose. The signatures are then separated and the the fold is sheared off. Now you have a loose stack of pages all the same width.

Optionally you can disassemble the signatures and flatten them, scan them while flat, then possibly reassemble the book. Sorting out the pages is a little more work and each scan must be separated into two pages. In this case the cheap paper was in such poor condition that the pages were almost falling apart. So rebinding was not planned.

On paperback or glue bound books it is easiest to saw the spine off using a bandsaw to separate the pages.

Scanning the Pages

We disassembled the book to make it easier to scan. A 400 page book is too thick to fold flat and do a good job of scanning. The pages were each scanned at high resolution and saved as uncompressed bitmap files. Images were saved as their page numbers. We paid a college student (our apprentice blacksmith) to do the scanning and basic image processing.

Processing the Pages

After scanning and the initial processing all 428 pages were then reduced in size, cropped and lightness adjusted. Many of the original pages in this printing had defects (broken type, inc splatter) which we repaired. There were also a few torn pages which had to be repaired.

Watermarks were added to a selection of pages and the images. The reason for this is that many people think that if its on the web its free to take. While we provide these pages free to the public they are NOT free to take. You may link to them, print them, save them for your own use, but do not post them elsewhere on the web.

Setting up the eBook

This took more time than processing the over 400 images. First a replica of the table of contents was created in HTML with links to the pages to make the book convenient to use. Then a dynamic PHP page was designed that loads pages by number as well as keyword files and notes for specific pages. It also produces technically correct HTML for the search engines. All this requires hundreds of edits and tests.

The Keyword Files

Graphic pages are not searchable on a computer or the web. So there has to be text to describe the image or keywords from each scanned page. This is probably the most tedious part of the process. We start with the chapter heading pages and then fill in the rest. These files are a brief synopsis and key (index) words from each page. This requires studying each page, writing and saving the text. Some pages have optional commentary and warning text in separate files. This is such a time consuming task that it will be done over a period of time after the pages are on-line. Yes, it may have been easier to write a book from scratch.

Publishing On-Line

The book needs some place on-line to live, a "home". This required setting up an eBook area and index page for this and future projects. It also required a review or landing page as a place to start. Then the whole must have links added to the various site menus and appropriate reference pages on the site.

eBook II : Hand Forging by Googerty

A Different Situation

Production of our first eBook (above) was much too expensive. For the second eBook we purchased a special book scanner. It is fast and scans within 3/16" of the edge. It also came with OCR software. The scanner let us avoid disassembling the book and its software did a better job than the first.

The improved process

With the new scanner it only took about 6 hours to scan 200 pages. The OCR and corrections was done separately and took a little longer. Full text will improve search engine relevance.

Batch OCR processing was not possible with the software supplied with the scanner which was several versions old. The upgrade to a professional version was a budget breaker but may be considered in the future. Time is money but must be balanced against meager revenues in such as venture.

Image processing was better but every page still needs manual cropping due the right and left shift in the pages. This is often ignored but is a matter of quality. The different yellowing forced us to convert to black and white (grey scale) images of the pages (more work).

Using the same system as the first book with keywords and annotation still requires considerable time and research. Setting up the Table of Contents and List of Illustrations with hot links took over a day.

It is still an expensive process taking us over a week to setup a 200 page eBook.

Future eBooks

We have a collection of rare and very expensive locksmithing books that may be next. We purchased them with the intention of selling them on CD but have backed off that idea. If this book does well and folks appreciate it then we will add others as we can.

Candidate Books

Besides being out of print metalworking books they must be out of copyright. This is not as easy to determine as it would seem. In general books must be Copyright 1926 or earlier. Later books MAY apply but it is very difficult to research OR get permission to legaly reprint. With the author's or publisher's permission later books or books still in copyright could be used. However, this would be an unlikely occurrence. IF you have a possible title let us know. We will see if we can obtain it.

Why On-Line?

There are several reasons. The first is to bring rare hard to find information to our readers. Another is that in the past we have sold copies of books on CD-ROM with very little profit. These pages with Google pay per click ads may pay as well or better. But it will still take several years to pay back our investment on this ONE book. AND another reason is that this is a new trend. Google is putting thousands of books on-line and every blacksmithing book they put on-line takes traffic away from us. On the Internet traffic is the name of the game.

For more see About Working in Metal    Go to Working in Metals

Go to Hand Forging and Wrought-Iron Ornamental Work

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