My Grandpa's Books Never More! by Windpunk When people think of college, they see dollar signs. Other than the tuition, the most expensive part of the puzzle is the books. Depending on what kind of time frame you have, and what the bookstore allows, it is possible to purchase the books, rip-em, and sell them back for the full-face value. The positives outweigh the negatives (if getting caught is not a negative). When you rip the book properly, you get every word and every picture of the book. The book ripper is easy to make. Google the design you like, all you really need is Plexiglas, two decent cameras, and some scrap wood. Programs to Use When I ripped my textbooks, I used three programs and two of them were open-source or free. Metamorphose is a program for numbering files. It is necessary because when you take the pictures from the cameras, you will have to combine them at some point. Numbering the first cameras files starting with "001" and the second cameras files starting with "001A" is a good idea, so that when you put the images together they will be in order from cover-to-cover. I usually select a three digit filename because most college textbooks don't exceed 2000 pages (999 + 999A = 1998 pages). The next program to use after getting everything in order is Scan Tailor. This is where you're going to spend most of your time telling the program to automatically rotate every other picture and getting everything trimmed and white balanced. The third program is not free unless you get the pirated copy somewhere out there. Adobe Acrobat Pro is where you will be merging multiple files into a single PDF portfolio. Adobe Reader will not help you; you must be able to create a .PDF file. You will also use this program to distinguish text in the pictures you took by using OCR. The Pros The obvious upside is that the digital book will save you money. Most bookstores have a return policy of a couple days. Buying the book on a Friday gives you until Monday and sometimes even longer to return it. You don't have to carry a heavy paper book through a semester to get half or less of the original money you put into it. By making all of your books digital, you can save backpack space, maybe use that space for some Funyuns... mmmm... Funyuns! Save yourself some time flipping through that flipping book; your book is OCR'd! Just press CTRL+F and type in what you're trying to find. The Cons Teachers ask questions when the book that they requested the bookstore to carry ends up on a tablet or laptop when the publisher doesn't even make a digital copy. Usually teachers don't care as long as you can keep up. If you get rambunctious and start buying and selling books every weekend trying to copy the whole bookstore, you're going to raise red flags. Other than getting caught and paying copyright penalties, the worst con is having fuzzy pictures and not being able to read the text, so double check the pages before you sell the book back. You're gonna look kinda stupid buying back the book you just sold. So in the end, you can stop eating Ramen every night and start enjoying the next cheapest meal around.