Scanned Guidebooks - Tips
Hello, Andy here from HoboTraveler.com
I have paid to have about 7 guidebooks Scanned. I think Europe, India. South America, Africa, Carribean. I will give you access if you OCR them.? You must promise to not put up on the internet and share with anyone, as I really do not need the Lonely Planet getting angry. I have purchased all the books and paid to scan. I will pay you if you scan. Saving money is not a good reason to use these book, it cost me about 100-200 per book to Scan and tons of storage to store, I have a lot.
I stopped this project because I have not checked if they are proper to be OCR. There is a complete process from A to Z that needs to be know before I go farther. I just look at the pages a a JPEG and read.
I use the Encyclopedia Encarta as a guidebook. It has great maps, better than Google Earth and I can use offline. I have not found any value to googleearth, mostly to me just a toy. The places where I do not need a map, they do good. When I really need a map, there is nothing of good detail. Encarta has all the roads and major cities, and then I can read about the countries, the bigger cities.
When I find a place, and I really want to know. I then go to Wikipedia.org and they have more, and links to maps.
GPRS has gave me the extra guidebook informaiton I need. Most long-term travelers do not use a guidebook, they just go and do not pay for a guidebook or they borrow a guidebook. A guidebook can be borrowed very easy if you go slow, then just go and copy the section you need.
YOU WROTE - Note: (...) Three dashes means I edited the text
My idea about guidebooks was simply to scan them in page by page at home before my trip. Then I would have a scanned image of each page of the book organized into directories, and also run OCR software to create text (for searching, also allows you to reformat text for maximal readability). The device I had in mind was the Nokia n800 Internet Tablet. It runs Linux, has a 4 inch diagonal screen with 800x480 pixels, and weighs 7 ounces, supports Wi-Fi, bluetooth connectivity, fits in your pocket, etc. It costs about $370. You can add bluetooth GPS for $70. There is an open source electronic reader program on the device which supports the guidebook idea (both the scanned images and the OCR'ed text). I have confirmed with current Nokia n800 users who do this scanning procedure with ordinary books, and the experience is good.
I would keep backups of my guidebook scans and the text in my email account in case the device was stolen. I plan to document a workflow for going from paper guidebook to finished ebooks on my handheld device. You could probably have your boy in India do this for you, too. The current generation of devices are just barely there technology and price-wise -- but as time goes in, this will become easier and easier.
I did contact Lonely Planet about ebooks and received a response from the publisher. My conclusion is that the situation is pretty hopeless for the forseeable future if you want to buy ebooks directly from them.
There is an open source mapper program on the Nokia device that integrates with the GPS and uses google maps -- it automatically downloads and caches the correct maps and one can do this city by city during their trip (i.e., download maps for the next city before getting there). And you can use satellite photos from google instead of street maps (only satellite photos are available for most 2nd and 3rd world cities). And of course, all of google maps is free. Like you, I believe that costs must be minimized or I will spend my life worrying about my stuff getting stolen.
Here is a current review (April 1) of the NOkia device with photos (sorry, one single big page):