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This link recently saved by mvuijlst on May 11, 2009
Before Google came on the scene, book scanning was a tedious process that sometimes resulted in the death of a book. The software used to scan books, called Optical Character Recognition software or OCR for short, required each page of the book to be flat. Now anyone who's ever opened a book knows it's next to impossible for a book to lie flat without some sort of device. One solution to the problem was to use glass plates that individually flattened each page, but this method wasn't very efficient. The other solution was to chop off the book's binding, but that method destroyed the book. How was one to go about scanning a book quickly and efficiently without destroying it? It was a problem that vexed book scanners for years until Google came up with this solution
This link recently saved by mvuijlst on April 11, 2007