A Different Kind of Reading

November 10th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

All week long, we’ve been bringing you stories and glimpses into the wonderful world of the future. Which reminds us, not a single story on a flying cars has crossed our desk this year. What’s up with that? We really want our car to float high above traffic. We’ll work out those pesky, plaguing navigation problems later.

Instead, we’ll bring you an insider’s look at the (legal) book scanning industry. Dark, dusty tomes. Windowless, airless compartments. Not the greatest of pay. Books that simply do not lend themselves to easy imagining.

Ms. Ridolfo scanned her first book — an early 20th century copy of works by William Shakespeare — in about 40 minutes. Then she encountered her toughest assignment of the shift: the book about English authors, which weighed 10 pounds. The most vexing part came between pages 364 and 365, where Ms. Ridolfo found a copy of a lengthy, two-sided letter by Robert Louis Stevenson, written in cursive. Mr. Young, a more experienced scanner, helped Ms. Ridolfo figure out how to position the book on her scanning machine to capture a clear image of the entire letter.

This is not a job for wimps. It is a job for those of us with special hobbies:

She’s long been fascinated by books — and not just for reading. “I like to go into used bookstores and smell the paper and look at the colors,” she said. Her colleagues sometimes chuckle when they catch her sniffing an old text.

This leads us to the more pressing question of the day: how is it possible that the WSJ can manage to make a 25-year old woman look over forty? If ever there was evidence that modern imaging techniques are needed, this is it.

File Under: Our Continuing Fascination With Copyright