The book cradle is a device that facilitates the digitization, filming or copying of bound originals, for example books, archive files, newspaper volumes or magazines. It ensures that the adjacent pages of bound originals are brought to the same height, regardless of the thickness of the original and regardless of the position at which a bound original is opened. In this way, the same distance to the imaging unit (scanning system) is achieved for both sides, a necessary prerequisite for ensuring optimum scanning results.
In contrast to conventional copiers or flatbed scanners, the book does not lie on a book cradle with the page to be digitized facing downwards, but with the text mirror facing upwards.
There are many different designs of such devices. The decisive factor for selecting the right book cradle is ultimately the material to be processed. Valuable historical materials such as old prints and illuminated manuscripts require a different type of book cradle than modern books, magazines or journals. Likewise, parameters such as condition, state of preservation, binding, or size and weight are often decisive for how far bound materials can be opened at all without causing damage to the binding or spine.
For this reason, a wide variety of book cradles are available to digitize books optimally, also from a conservation point of view. Basically, they can be divided into the following categories:
- Simple book supports made of foam
- Mechanical or motorized book cradles with a 180° opening angle
- Mechanical or motorized V-shaped book cradles that only allow a reduced opening angle <= 110°.
- Mechanical or motorized hybrid systems whose opening angle can be variably adjusted
Depending on the design, professional book cradles also have other additional features that ensure gentle handling of the originals:
Glass plate:As the pages should lie as flat as possible during scanning, book cradles are often equipped with a glass plate that should press the pages of the originals to be scanned as much as possible.
Book spine release: This refers to a special mechanism that is used to set a gap several centimeters wide between the individual support plates of the book cradle, into which the spine can be gently inserted. Modern scanning systems usually allow an adjustment that can be individually adapted to the respective original.
Book spine support: This is a mechanism below the area of the support plates that provides support for the inserted spine and prevents smaller books from slipping through the open gap when the spine is released.